Monday, July 22, 2013

Playground Review: Wallenberg Park (SJ)

On Curtner between Cherry and Cottle, Willow Glen/Cambrian area
We visited this park on a Sunday afternoon based upon a Google search for "best San Jose playgrounds" and its 5 star rating on Yelp. Here's my review:

  • Play structure is very toddler-friendly (low height, limited places to fall off, but with two slides that even an older toddler would enjoy).
  • Rubberized ground surface. 
  • Nice sand pit with table features (funnels, holes, varying levels) and a propeller that Toddler X enjoyed.
  • Two spring toys and two baby swings.
  • Wide open grassy fields with plenty of shade.
  • Bathrooms, bbq pits and picnic tables available.
  • Busy street is far from play area.
  • Overall, park is clean and well maintained.
  • TERRIBLY inconvenient parking access.
  • No fencing around playground.
  • Baby swings are in direct sunlight.
  • Older kids' playground is just a few feet away from toddler structure (risk of older kids running down toddlers).
Conclusion: Though I really liked the small toddler-friendly play structure and the feature-filled sand pit, it wasn't worth the hassle of parking and getting to the playground area. I may try again during school hours to see if the newly-discovered parking area is accessible and more convenient.

Best for: Group picnics. Running on the field chasing balls or bubbles. Moms who really hate high, heart attack inducing play structures.

Worst for: People who need convenient parking -- in other words, anyone traveling with a toddler and all the attendant gear.

To know if you go: Bring toys for the sandpit and lots of sunblock -- part of the playground is unshaded in the afternoon. Bring a stroller or wagon if you have a toddler who might decide that he or she doesn't want to walk a long distance back to the car. Pack a picnic blanket or plan to use the tables. There is a bathroom, but it's not the cleanest. And, most important, read the parking tip below!

PARKING TIP: Access to this park is ridiculous! The park's only street facing is to Curtner, and there is NO street parking on Curtner in front of the park and no parking lot entrance. My husband and I drove around for several minutes before finding street parking on Cherry, which was far enough from the park that we had to load Toddler X into the stroller to get him and our picnic stuff there. We also had to cross a street -- a big negative for a single toddler tamer alone with a toddler.

Turns out that there is a parking lot with access to the park, but it is not technically associated with Wallenberg, and there are no signs directing you to it. Heading east on Curtner, turn left onto Cottle (first turn past the park), and take a left into a driveway marked "Operations Warehouse". There is parking under the solar panels to your left. Walk along a path next to the community garden to reach the rear corner of Wallenberg Park. Even then, you're still a short walk from the play structure. (Note: I'm not sure if this parking lot is accessible on school days, as it appears to be associated with Willow Glen Middle School. If it's not, then street parking is your only option.)

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