This Denver dad shares his love of Denver’s best playgrounds
posted by: Mile High Mamas
Denver dad Chris Sekirnjak is a longtime contributor for Mile High Mamas and the author of Denver Playgrounds & Parks: A guide to the best play areas in metro Denver. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked him how he got started.
Tell us a bit about your family.
My wife and I met in California and moved to Denver in 2004 to be near the mountains. We have since moved closer to the foothills and have no plans of ever leaving Colorado! Our family has always preferred to spend our time outdoors rather than indoors. Oftentimes, you could find us hiking, skiing, trail running, swimming, boating, or gardening.
How did you get started on the playground project? What is your ‘why?’
My first book “Run, Stroll, Hike” (a guide to family-friendly trails in & around Denver) was born out of our need to find stroller-friendly routes among the hundreds of trails in the greater Denver area. During my research for that book, I stumbled upon many playgrounds at the beginning or end of trails. At that time, my own kids were outgrowing the toddler phase and had begun to truly appreciate the variety of play structures in our local parks. I started to wonder if someone had assembled a list of all Denver area playgrounds. It turned out that nobody had a comprehensive list; some municipalities I contacted had not even completed an inventory of their playgrounds in years. So I set out to compile an overview of all those play areas and rate each on specific criteria, my two kids in tow. And once we had started, we found it impossible to stop before we had visited every single playground at least once, a project that eventually included around 800 parks in over 15 metro Denver municipalities and districts.
What are some of your favorite memories you’ve made with your kids while touring these playgrounds?
Both kids have long gotten used to the idea of visiting playgrounds on most weekends. In the early phase of the project, we had a long list of parks to explore. I remember my kids complaining when there were “only” 5 or 6 parks to see during a single trip (“Where is the next one, dad?”) Nowadays I feel like I’m still spoiling them because we only get to visit the newest additions to the metro park system, all with shiny, brand-new, state-of-the-art play structures. Even though they are slowly outgrowing the typical playground age, I can always count on at least one of them to come along and test out new equipment or give ratings and review suggestions. Also, my son has struggled with motor coordination and has profited hugely from these 8 years of “playgrounding”: balance beams, climbing structures, boulders, and monkey bars make great tools for improving gross motor skills!
What are some of your other favorite places to play in Denver?
Season passes to Elitch Gardens are a must for the four of us, pretty much every year. In the summer we love to play in the water: kayaking and paddleboarding on a lake, visiting water slides and water parks, or tubing on a river. We also spend a lot of our time in our backyard, where I’ve built zip lines, a treehouse, a sledding hill, and a trampoline for the kids.
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