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Activities / Colorado Livin'

Great Playgrounds In and Around Denver

Kids scale them. Parents covet them. Pop songs romanticize them.

Playgrounds abound in and around Denver. Many of them incorporate whimsical public art works and state-of-the-art equipment.

But it takes more than just those frills to make a great playground. It takes plenty of trees and shade and a little something intangible – a sense of community.

Great playgrounds engage kids’ bodies and minds – often with an imaginative theme – and keep them coming back. The very best have these things and then that something. Maybe it’s a panoramic mountain view or other nearby amenities such as a petting zoo, water park, skate park and sports fields.

With school out and kids looking for places to while away their summer, here are 11 Front Range playgrounds that consistently get high marks.

A. Spring Canyon Community Park

One hundred acres nestled in an idyllic foothills setting are punctuated by Inspiration Playground, which was designed to be universally accessible. It has a play surface that allows for wheelchairs, walkers and support braces, along with sensory- rich structures that encourage interaction between kids with and without disabilities.

B. Fossil Creek Community Park

Learning and play converge on this fossil- themed playground that includes a giant woolly mammoth, a prehistoric climbing wall, Ice Age water feature, Tar Pits Play Area and Adventure Island.

C. Scott Carpenter Park

The rocket-shaped jungle gym and echo chamber set the playground apart at this park named after one of Boulder’s native sons, NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter. Kids love the space-themed equipment. Parents love the park’s Flatirons backdrop and easy access to the Boulder County bike path system.

D. Louisville Community Park

This community deems itself “a crossroads of historical influences,” and that idea framed the 2006 renovation of this municipal epicenter. In addition to improved fields, parking and picnic areas, the playground reflects the town’s mining and railroad history. There’s a sculpted concrete climbing structure that resembles a mineshaft, the Argo, which looks like a wavy slide but is really a rocking tube, and a big spinning bowl.

E. Northglenn Sensory Park

The name says it all at this playground where designers aspired to fuse functional art with stimulating sounds, scents and textures. The result includes sound panels and etched boulders around the equipment, stainless-steel “drum” stools, and a water play area, all of which is intended to lure kids of various ages and abilities into romping around together in the same space.

F. Aviation Park

Located on the historic site of the colorful Broadmoor Country Club and later the Aviation Country Club, this quiet neighborhood gem benefits from mature trees for shade plus a picnic shelter, sports field and horseshoe pit. The airplane- themed playground is accented by five modern kinetic sculptures produced by Colorado artists.

G. Downtown Children’s Playground

Some parents cringe at this new playground’s close proximity to busy Speer Boulevard. But its urbane locale – smack dab in the middle of the Central Platte Valley and steps away from The Pepsi Center, Elitch Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver – is exactly what city dwellers love about it. There are play areas for little kids and big kids. The funky-looking equipment on site now – like the climbable “Space Net” – is only Phase 1 in a plan that includes the addition of a sand play area, shade canopy, more seating along Cherry Creek, water features and more.

H. Stapleton Central Park

Attractions at this oasis in the city include a 30-foot-long, 10-foot-high climbing wall, the Supernova, which is a blue balancing ring, and an outdoor music space that functions as a sensory sound garden.

I. Belleview Park

Look for this playground in the shadow of the towering yellow and orange water slides at Pirates Cove Family Aquatics Center. In addition to cool equipment like a reclining swing and a funky climbing wall, this playground is a stone’s throw away from a miniature train that’s only $1 to ride, and a petting zoo, only $1 to enter.

J. Utah park

Aurora’s largest and most popular park recently underwent a green renovation that includes a spacious 6,800-square-foot playground with swings, saddle spinners, a freeform climbing structure, crow’s nest overlook and a larger playground for big kids. The park’s nautical theme includes a wheelchair-accessible “Galapagos Island science lab” play structure and a raised sand table.

K. Westlands Park

The scene is set for one of the premiere play spaces in Denver’s south suburbs by an artistic steel arch with bird and leaf cutouts. Between the water features, climbing structures – including one that looks like a giant hand – the “treehouse” play area, and three different age-appropriate playgrounds, toddlers to teens can find something to love about Westlands. Parents enjoy its fantastic Rocky Mountain scenery and ample trails.

By: Elana Jefferson
Photo: Central Park from Stapleton Denver

Please weigh-in with your favorite playgrounds in Colorado! If possible, include a link or approximate address.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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14 Comments

  1. We also LOVE the playground at the Arvada Center – there’s a dragon that sprays water when it’s hot and it’s usually not crowded!

  2. Shhhhhhh, Mary-Frances. One of the charms of the dragon is that nobody seems to know about it! 😉 We’ve been many times and usually we are the only ones there.

    It’s one of our kids’ favorite playgrounds, especially when it’s hot. I love all the little nooks and benches. It’s hard to find a decent playground with shade (why is that?) but this one has plenty.

  3. Too many to mention one! Foothills Parks and Rec has the BEST parks!!!

  4. There is an awesome park at Orchard and Quebec, has the greatest playground for all ages.

  5. I’ll probably continue to this list often as various playgrounds come to me. One of my favorites is outside the Children’s Museum of Denver. We love to play and then take a walk along the Platte River.

  6. Eggs, Bacon and Waffles? Not for much longer…
    On those thunderstormy day, there is alway Cherry Creek Mall!
    Come play on the eggs bacon and waffles before they’re changed out to a whole new exicting theme in August 2010!

  7. Adding a new (literally) playground we visited yesterday.

    Westminster just opened an amazing new park and playground on the northeast corner of Sheridan and 92nd (about a block or two east of Sheridan).

    It has a splashground, wading river, padded play area with climbing rocks and slides, hollow logs, a rope bridge, and the city of London. Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!

    The theme is Peter Pan and wouldn’t be complete without a pirate ship and crocodile. It also has nice covered picnic tables and a handy bathroom (uber important).

    We’ve been doing the list and I feel this new playground could easily rank in the top five.

  8. I agree that the playground in Greenwood Village at Orchard and Quebec is awesome, and although I was skeptical about southern suburban living, the Civic Green park in Highlands Ranch is truly amazing! 🙂

  9. Playgrounds equipment allows children to play freely, which helps mental and emotional development. When children are allowed free play in a structured environment like a playground, they are able to use their imagination and be spontaneous, which is an essential tool for developing a strong sense of well being.

    Playground Equipment

  10. I know this is a long shot, but maybe someone has been to my “mysterious park”?

    We went there about 6 years ago with my aunt and her son, for a group she was involved in. I’ve asked her about the park because I don’t remember where it’s at, but she’s never gotten back to me about it! It was a really cool park! We lived in Littleton by Southwest Plaza Mall and I know we took c-470 to the east, but after that I just can’t remember.

    The park was kinda out there it seemed. I want to say the road started with an I or an E? I’m pretty sure there was a rec center in the same parking lot. We walked over a bridge above a creek to from the parking lot, there were trees and lots of plants. The playground was cool. The slide(s) were on the side of a hill. There was a tiered rock wall and above it was a covered table area (that the group we were with rented.) Behind us was a field for soccer or whatever.

    I have searched different counties rec centers, parks, rentals, and have come up with nothing. It has bugged me for years that I can’t remember much about this place.

    Anyway! Thanks for this great list!! We love parks! We’re out in Evergreen, so going to parks in the cities is a day trip for us. And we just didn’t know where some decent ones were. We’ve been to Clement Park a gazillion times. It’s a great park, but I think the kids are bored of it. They like going to the fountain in Englewood by the light rail station, but hubs and I get bored sitting there. And we’ve taken them to Stapleton to play in the fountain by King Sooper. We also like the “sombrero slide” park near 285 and (I think) Kipling. They redid the park and it so much nicer now.

    • Is it Westlands Park? Near Quebec and Orchard. It has everything you mentioned other than the rec. center but it is next to the Colorado Athletic Club.

      • It could be! We will have to check it out. I thought it was a rec center, but maybe I mistook the athletic club for a rec center. Thanks for the reply!

  11. This is a great list but none of these links work for me. I get an error message on all of them. Can you let me know if they are broken or if it is just me?
    Thanks!

  12. We’re very fortunate to live a few blocks from Great Plains Park on Jewel off E-470. Fantastic water park with lots of covered seating for the kids. Playgrounds for toddlers up to big kids. Pavillions, ball park & soccer fields. And, it looks like it’s being expanded, though I have no idea what for. Just keeps getting better! Oh, and you can watch the jets taking off, flying in formation and landing at nearby Buckley AFB. Guaranteed to give you goosesbumps!

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