Oct 27

136. Spruce Street Harbor Park

The playgrounds that Zora and I document on this site have a few things in common: (1) they’re all in Philly; (2) they all have playground equipment or otherwise have something interesting that attracts us to them; and (3) they’re all available to the public and free.  But I bend the rules sometimes for really cool places like Bartram’s Gardens which doesn’t really have any playground equipment.  Here’s another exception: the Spruce Street Harbor Park.  Not only didn’t it have any traditional playground equipment, but it was only here for a limited period during the summer 2014.  But it was super amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that drawing a map was just impossible: there was just too much to capture.  Hammocks.  Big Connect Fours and Chess games.  Air hockey.  Lounges selling beer along the Delaware River.  Misters.  And much more.  With luck, this pop-up park will pop up again in summer 2015.

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Website from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Visited: August 2014

Oct 27

135. Three Bears Park

74 three bearsThere are a few playgrounds that, upon hearing about this blog, people inquire about.  The two most common: “Have you been to Jenks Playground?” and “Have you been to Three Bears Park?”  And now that we’ve been to both of these playgrounds, I can understand why they have such a dedicated base of followers.  Three Bears isn’t big or complicated (unlike Jenks), but it’s cozy and charming and–come on!–it has a lovely statute of three bears.  It’s tucked away in Center City and easy to miss.  But if you’re strolling around Center City, it’s worth a stop.  And if you’re fortunate enough to live near this adorable park, well, you’re mighty lucky.

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Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 8/9/2009)

Friends of Three Bears Park community group

Visited: August 2014

Oct 27

134. Starr Garden

75 starr gardensZora and I were delighted to be joined on our trip to the playground at Starr Garden by Susanna.  I think she often wonders where we go when we disappear from the house for hours on our “playground adventures.”  And the Starr Garden was a treat.  Perhaps the basketball game on the nearby court was a bit spirited a times, but otherwise, our visit was perfect.  A family ate a late lunch on the picnic tables.  We talked again for the 100th time about how it’s a shame that we still haven’t been to Blackbird Pizzeria, Philly’s highly recommend vegan pizza joint.  And we played.  There’s two interesting pieces here: first, the fire engine climber.  They’re not unique–they have one of these at Malcolm X Playground in West Philly and at Water Tower Rec Center playground in Mt. Airy–but I still love them.  Second, they have a complete vertical 180 degree climber.  I have never seen one of these before.  And, especially for a park this close to South Philly, they sure have a lot of lovely shade trees.

zoraplays2a zoraplays2b zoraplays2c zoraplays2d zoraplays2e zoraplays2fPhilly Playground Project (reviewed on 8/9/2009)

Facebook page for Starr Garden Neighbors and Friends group

Visited: August 2014

Apr 03

118. McCall Elementary School Playground


If you’re not a McCall Elementary School family, you  might not even know this playground exists.  To get there, you have to come in on Panama Street, a small half-block cobble-stone street between Pine and Spruce.  It’s a new-ish looking playground with no graffiti.  No swings, but they do have one of those new-fangled see-saws.  On the Saturday afternoon we were there, some kids were practicing tricks on their BMX bikes in the sea of asphalt between the playground and building.  And ordinarily, I’d be wistful at the asphalt expanse, but the luscious and green Washington Square park is just a block or two north for all your grassy needs.mccall-3 mccall-4

mccall1 mccall2Philly Playground Project (reviewed: 9/9/2009)

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Visited: March 2014

Aug 29

102. Francisville Rec Center Playground

francisvilleThere’s a lot of awesome in this neighborhood spot.  Let’s start with the maze painted on the asphalt.  We’ve been to over a hundred playgrounds so far in this fair city of ours, and I think this is the first time we’ve seen this.  It’s a simple, low-cost feature, but man, did Zora and I have a lot of fun with that.  There’s also letters and numbers painted on the asphalt (which got second billing to the maze.)  All of the equipment was new and clean, too.  And the “Francisville Playground” mural?  That’s pretty cool, too.

PS.  Be sure to check out the photo of Zora playing hopscotch.  I caught her mid-jump!

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Philadelphia Playground Project review (10/3/09)

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Visited: August 2013

Feb 21

89. Greenfield Elementary School Playground

11 greenfieldHidden behind Greenfield Elementary School on Chestnut Street is this delightful Center City oasis of fun. There’s a retro climber spaceship, two spinners (I’m still dizzy), three padded hills, lots of trees, a world map painted on the blacktop, and it’s all in the shadow of a new skyscraper going up next door.  Zora particularly liked climbing up the hills and spinning around and around.  If you’re in western Center City and  looking for a break from Markward Playground or visiting the nearby Mutter Museum, you ought to stop by here and enjoy.

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Philadelphia Playground Project Review (7/2/11)

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Visited: February 2013

Feb 19

85. Markward Playground at Schuylkill River Park

This is an amazing park.  It’s got two large play structures with loads of cool stuff, including a slide that’s got to be over 12′ tall.  It has a small see saw (on the left; it’s partially cut off on the diagram above.)  It’s got some of the best landscaping–including beautiful flowers–of any park we’ve been to.  All in all, a beautiful place.  Zora loved the slides–especially the two very tall slides in the top middle of the drawing.  Be warned, though, that you can really get up some speed on the tall straight one.  With the completion of the pedestrian bridge over the CSX tracks, you can now go directly from this playground onto the Schuylkill Banks Trail, up to the Art Museum, and beyond.

Markward Playground’s website.

a4a5a3 Philadelphia Playground Project review (8/2/09)

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Visited: February 2013

Feb 11

79. Von Colln Playground

This playground is pretty awesome.  In addition to the usual playground equipment, it’s right next to batting cages.  And on the other side, it seems like there’s always a couple real baseball games going on.  Plus, the beautiful trees provide some needed shade.  And if you visit at the right time, there’s even a kiosk selling snacks and drinks.

Philadelphia Playground Project review (9/5/09)

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Visited: June 2012

Feb 11

68. Eastern State Penitentiary Playground

This is a great neighborhood park, located in the shadow of Eastern State Penitentiary.  It has a gigantic spider web rope climber, plus a sit down booth under the play ground.  It also has a water fountain and a tent that includes a water mister.  The afternoon that Zora and I stopped by, the neighborhood association was holding a small festival on the grassy area to the east of the playground.  It reminded me of my local Cedar Park playground.  Worth the stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.

Philadelphia Playground Project Review (12/10/2009)
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Visited: September 2012

Feb 11

67. Lemon Hill Playground

I can’t say enough good things about Lemon Hill.  It’s a great place to get a view of the Philly skyline.  It’s a great place to watch the annual bike race come whipping down the hill.  It’s a great place to play pick-up football on a Sunday morning.  It’s a great place for a picnic.  And it’s got a great playground.  The playground has that weird rubbery brown pseudo mulch and the usual equipment.  There are three rare playground things here: (1) a small puppet show stage (but no puppets?); (2) a stair & railing climber; and (3) black mushroom-like steppers that will test your balance.

Philadelphia Playground Project (not reviewed)
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Visited: September 2012

Feb 11

45. Franklin Square Park Playground

I remember reading in the newspaper when Franklin Square re-opened awhile back and have been meaning to get here, but when you’re on your bike, it’s a bit hard to get there.  So Zora and I borrowed Hiram’s car and drove over to check it out.  The playground has some cool stuff, but there’s also a carousel (that you have to pay for) and a fountain and a mini-golf course and, on the November day we visited, Santa Claus!  A big hit.  Next time we come, though, we’re going to bring some lunch.

Playground website

Yelp review

Philadelphia Playground Project review (July 2009)

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Visited: December 2012

Feb 11

39. Seger Park Playground

03 segerWe visited this park on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday in January, and the place was packed.  Only when I returned home and looked it up on the internet did I learn that it was the second day this renovated playground was open.  And oh! the renovations are so beautiful.  This quickly became one of my favorite playgrounds.  There’s an amazing rope climb in the middle, three hills in the infant lot, the slides are tall, the landscaping is impeccable, there are plans to put in a sprayground, there are plentiful benches, and there’s an extraordinary rope cone spinner unlike anything thing I’ve ever seen before.

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Friends of Seger Park Playground

Philadelphia Playground Project review (visited 2008/09)

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Visited: January 2013

Feb 11

33. Pennsylvania Avenue Playground

This is a small playground overlooking Kelly Drive behind the Art Museum.  There’s just the one play structure and four swings.  Zora and I ate lunch on the hill watching the bike race.  The playground was almost an after thought.  It’s not worth going out of your way for, but if you’re in the area, why not check it out?

Philadelphia Playground Project review (not yet reviewed)