Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Playground Review: Hester Park (San Jose)


A tiny neighborhood park tucked in next to the Rose Garden Branch Library and Hoover Middle School, Hester Park (Naglee Ave and Dana) is a pleasant place to visit if you live nearby or a fun add-on to a trip to the Rose Garden or library, but is not a destination playground.

Pros
  • Fully fenced, with good latches on the two gates (necessary because one entrance faces busy Naglee Avenue). 
  • Usually abundant shade (with two benches) around the perimeter, though the play structures get full sun much of the day. 
  • Toddler side has play structure, two baby swings, small sandbox (nothing to write home about), steering wheel/chimes feature and the squishy ground surface I like. 
  • Never crowded -- the most I've seen is two other families there. 
  • Street parking is conveniently located right outside the Naglee gate, but Naglee is a moderately busy street, so best not to park there if you're getting your child out on the driver's side of the car. Instead, park on Dana (much quieter) and walk around the library to the park. During library hours (closed Fri-Sun), you can also park in the library garage. 
  • Great location for a multi-stage outing (e.g., picnic, Rose Garden walk, playground) due to it's proximity to the library, the Rose Garden, Starbucks (a block away at Park and Naglee) and Zanotto's (a few blocks the other way). 
  • Nice big kids play structure if you're traveling with an older one. 

Cons
  • I'm not a huge fan of the toddler structure. Though it's not too high off the ground, the steps leading up are spaced too far apart for little toddler legs, and rather than having a semi-solid border along the steps, there are just two high handrails, wide open underneath (see bottom right photo). I don't feel safe stepping back and letting Toddler X climb those steps on his own. 
  • The park as a whole is tiny, with no bathrooms or grassy area
  • Sandbox is small and usually filled with debris from the trees overhead, swings squeak loudly (though I love that they're high enough to push without bending), and slide gets HOT. 
  • Park is sandwiched between a busy street and the middle school's playing fields, so not exactly a serene environment. 
Overall, a perfectly adequate little playground if you're in the Rose Garden area, but I wouldn't make a trip just for this.

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