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July 22, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

5 Must-Visit Playgrounds If You’re Traveling the U.S. with Kids

These outstanding play spots for kids show commitment to children and play. And all around the country playgrounds are getting better and better.

Road trips make up the most memorable part of family vacations, including where you stop along the way. Since kids need to blow off steam, here are 5 must-visit playgrounds to explore. Make your road trips fun and adventurous … because that’s how they’ll be that way!

5 Must-See Playgrounds If You’re Traveling the U.S.

The Jungle Gym at the Nashville Zoo.

Thisbe and Noah’s Promise Park at the Nashville Zoo.


OK, OK, start here!

Jungle Gym at the Nashville Zoo

That’s right, start right here at home! The Jungle Gym at the Nashville Zoo is the largest community-built playground in the nation and includes slides, tunnels, a 35-foot-tall tree house, climb-on cargo netting and more. Yes, it costs you the adult price of admission (from $22), but kids 2 – 12 are $4 less than adults and Littles 2 and younger are free. Why not make a day of it and see the animals, too?




Thisbe & Noah’s Promise Park
at the Nashville Zoo

Thisbe & Noah’s Promise Park is the all-inclusive custom designed portion of the Zoo’s playground. The park’s design incorporates pieces of equipment for all types of disabilities and needs.




Now Let’s Hit the Road!


Photo courtesy of Landscape Structures

Watkins Regional Park‘s Wizard of Oz Playground
301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

It’s in a land far, far away β€” and upwards of a 10 hour drive from Nashville. This amazing playground is themed after The Wizard of Oz, and the bright colorful playground sparks young imaginations daily. Included are a yellow brick road, the Kansas farm, Uncle Henry’s tractor, ruby slipper slides, the Emerald City, cute little ride-ons and more. The playground, located in Prince George’s County became part of an initiative to erect 25 Imagination playgrounds for children.



Photo courtesy Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

Located in the heart of Chicago, Maggie Daley Park is an absolute gem split into several different themed play spaces. These include the Play Garden with areas for young kids like “The Sea,” including a large-scale custom built metal play ship. Additionally, there’s “The Watering Hole,” and “The Harbor,” both for little kids all designed with boating and water fun in mind. Older kids will like “Slide Crater,” a space where they can experience wide slides of all kinds. The climbing wall is very popular, and additional unique structures, slides and areas are for assorted ages.



Photo from City Museum’s online gallery

City Museum
750 North 16th St., St. Louis, MO 63103

It’s not a playground, but it IS. The entire museum (nice and cool with A/C) is made of climbing structures, slides, secret passageways and more. Themed rooms keep the surprises coming. There’s a rooftop slide, spinning chairs, and so much to explore you’ll be shouting, “Uncle!”


Photo: Pat Volder

Adventure PlaygroundΒ 
160 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94710

One of the best adventure playgrounds in the country is located in Berkeley, CA. Here, kids are handed tools and supplies and encouraged to think outside the box, get messy, and create their own play environment. Part of the new movement to give kids more to do with themselves when they play β€” and to think outside the box β€” the Adventure Playground includes kid-designed forts, boats, towers, a zip line, hammers, saws, paint and recycled materials. Kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.


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About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.