Welcome to another installment of Best Twin Cities Playgrounds!
A couple of months ago I heard there was a new park being built near the Lake Harriet bandshell in Minneapolis and my immediate thought was that checking it out was the perfect excuse to head west. (Being a Saint Paul girl now I rarely venture “across the river,” but once upon a time I actually lived in South Minneapolis and spent many a weekend walking around the lake.) After spending the afternoon there about three weeks ago I am reminded of how beautiful it is, and I am going to make it a point to visit more often. (Particularly when you can combine a park visit, bike ride or walk AND a beach trip all into one. Why didn’t I think of doing this back in July when it was a million degrees?!)
The newly renovated park is built on a hill overlooking the bandshell–right above the parking lot. We visited the park between 1-3pm, easily the hottest and busiest time of the day. There are some shady areas, particularly near the sand area designed for little ones, but the swings and the bulk of the park (designed for older kids for sure) is in the hot, hot sun. I loved that there were benches all around for parents to sit and by the end of our visit most of them were in the shade which was good. The heat was so bad this day I didn’t have nearly the amount of pictures I had for the Tamarack Nature Center.
Here is a picture of the main piece of equipment, located at the very front of the park. Lots of slides and nets to climb. I loved that the equipment itself provided some shade for kids, and how whoever designed it really used every bit of space to it’s fullest. Underneath the bridges, for example, are picnic tables and more equipment like rings. I have a photo that demonstrates this below.
Like I alluded to above, this is definitely an older kids park. My daughter Holly is getting ready to turn 5 in a few weeks and there was a lot of it, like the crazy ladder above, that were just far too advanced for her. Another piece of equipment she wasn’t able to enjoy was the giant net. If you have kids that are older, I definitely think this would be fun park for them.
Like I mentioned above, there is a sand/play area geared more towards little ones. This section of the park is nicely shaded, and is where most parents were watching their children from. In the picture below you will see that there is a little log that kids loved to crawl in and out of including my Holly. In the background of that photo you will notice one of those sand and water play tables. (The other half of the photo you will also see a happy 9-month old girl completely engrossed with the sticks and the sand. It was Marie’s first time in sand and she LOVED it!)
For us it was pretty easy to find parking on the street nearby, but there is also a (pay) parking lot too. I think there are restrooms in the bandshell (someone confirm for me in the comments if this is still the case), but we did find and use a women’s restroom nearby in an older building. No AC in there, so I am not sure if there is heat either. This might be a building that they only open in summer.
Drinking fountains in the park, and lots of stuff nearby. Definitely worth the trip–just bring your sunscreen! I look forward to going back this fall.