During a recent weekend getaway to the Half Moon Bay area outside San Francisco, we needed something toddler-friendly to do after we visited a local marine reserve.
So, when no nearby playgrounds came up in a quick Google search, I asked a park ranger at the Marine reserve for a playground recommendation. We then hopped in our car and drove a few minutes to the spot the ranger directed to us. The playground, Moss Beach Park, was a hidden gem, full of wooden fort-like structures, fantasy-inspired play areas, and Little Tikes ride-on toys, as I wrote earlier this week on 510Families.com.
This is why today’s hint is this tip for a free toddler-friendly vacation activity no matter your destination: When you need a break from the beach or pool, or even somewhere to jog to, ask a local to recommend the best nearby playground and go to it. As you quickly realize when you’re the parent of a toddler, there are playgrounds everywhere.
In fact, some of the best playgrounds we’ve visited have been on our vacations. Beyond the great spot we found in Moss Beach outside Half Moon Bay, we’ve discovered scenic playgrounds everywhere from San Jose del Cabo to Palm Springs to Lake Tahoe using my just-ask-a-local approach.
Yes, my daughter is a well-traveled tot and even may go on a toddlermoon soon. But when you splurge on vacations, you need to count your pennies somewhere, and that’s why we opt for free trip activities like local playgrounds. And I’m not the only fan of this vacation activity.
“Nothing makes Tiny Traveler’s face light up than the familiar site of a playground in a new city: they’re often what she remembers most from a trip,” writes Eileen Gunn over at her site, FamiliesGo! She adds that “if you can find a playground that adds to your visitor experience with great views, funky equipment or just a super convenient location, so much the better.” I couldn’t agree more.
Similarly, Nicole Wiltrout notes in a post entitled “Playgrounds Put the Play in Vacation” on her blog Arrows Sent Forth that “I always love finding a good playground” on vacations. I’m with Nicole that “there’s a certain element of discovery” involved in tracking down, and checking out, a vacation spot playground.
In addition, as I’ve mentioned before, playgrounds also make great road trip rest stops. Finally, while there’s no shortage of online and app resources to help you find kid-friendly spots (apps to help you find playgrounds even exist), asking a local is always an easy option. Read more about my Bay Area toddler-friendly weekend getaway picks over at 510Families.com.
What are your favorite playgrounds and your tips for finding toddler-friendly vacation activities? Share your thoughts below.