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Five Unique Playgrounds for Your Summer Road Trip

While playgrounds are available in almost every neighborhood in the United States, most can be run-of-the-mill. They often offer the same types of structures and attractions. For children whose interests are finicky and whose attention spans can tire of the same old play spaces, unique environments for fun are like a breath of fresh air. Several playgrounds around the United States offer different and interesting ways playgrounds can be perceived and used by both children and adults. When planning your next road trip, consider visiting any of the unique playgrounds and parks listed below. Their emphasis on inclusion and child development put them a step above the average playground with only a slide and a sandbox.

Clemyjontri Park

This inclusive park in Fairfax County, VA, provides a play environment that is accessible to children of all abilities. It has been specifically designed to make its use easy for kids in wheelchairs and with sensory or developmental disabilities. This highly creative play space incorporates Braille, pictures and language into designs and even doubles as a teaching environment. Wheelchair-accessible swings make it possible for children with severe physical disabilities to experience the freedom of fluid motion. Parents or guardians, however, need to sign liability forms before each park visitor can use it. In addition, the park incorporates learning tools into its structures and play spaces. For $1.75, park visitors can ride a wheelchair-accessible carousel. When planning a carousel ride, choose a day with moderate temperatures and clear skies - the carousel doesn't operate in inclement weather or when temperatures dip below 55 degrees.

Powell Barnett Park

Seattle, WA, offers one of the most physical play spaces for children in the United States. With its intricate climbing structures, basketball area, field and pool, it provides a rich opportunity for children to use open spaces for extensive cardiovascular exercise. The play areas, recreation and restrooms are wheelchair-accessible, which give children of all ages and abilities the chance to experience all the fun that the park has to offer. A castle-shaped structure in the park is one of the hallmarks of this area and makes it instantly recognizable to new visitors. Since it is open until 11:30 p.m. every night, families can plan on enjoying the park and its amenities all day long.

Teardrop Park

Nature is the theme of New York, NY's famous Teardrop Park. Sculptures and play areas incorporate the elements into their designs, giving the park an air of simplicity and beauty. Children may enjoy "rock hopping" from one area to the next. Special areas have utilized large rocks as seats to encourage quiet or reading time. Artwork created by Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil makes for a tremendous eye-popping experience. Parents and children can visit this park when they feel the need to get down to basics and connect with nature in a hustle-and-bustle world.


Warwick, RI's imPOSSIBLE DREAM Playground has been billed as the state's first integrated play space. Children of varying levels of physical abilities are welcome to enjoy this playground, as its design was conceived with accessibility in mind. Along with the usual playground features like slides, swings and sandboxes, this playground also boasts a variety of fantasy playhouses, allowing kids to enter entirely new worlds by just traveling a few feet. The park was created to encourage imagination, communication and group play among different types of kids. As a result, cognitive and social development often increases when children are exposed to the park's amenities and its visitors. During the school year, teachers can take advantage of training that the park provides to help children fully engage with all of the learning tools that the park has to offer.

Alexander W. Kemp Playground

After having been redesigned in 2009, Alexander W. Kemp Playground in Cambridge, MA, now has more fun to offer than ever. A large influence on this play space's design was the idea of stimulation. Around the park, you'll find various structures and attractions that are meant to bring out a child's creativity and inquisitive nature. In no time, kids will be using their creative problem-solving skills and exploring builds to determine how and why structures work. Natural materials are incorporated into the structures and can even help teach kids about physics. Multi-directional swings and cascading water attractions, for example, get kids thinking about space and movement with little effort. There is also an accessible merry-go-round for wheelchair users.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart