Monday, September 23, 2013

Playground Review: Alvarez Park (Santa Clara)

Alvarez Park is one of our most frequently visited playgrounds, and its play structure tops my toddler list, so it's amazing that I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. Maybe it's a subconscious thing -- I don't want to share this delightful neighborhood park because I don't want to draw crowds. But if my job at SV Toddler is to do anything, it's to share information with our toddler friends.
So here goes for a review of one of our favorite spots in town:

  • Fantastic modern toddler play structure (top two pictures above) -- one of the larger ones I've seen, with long, gently inclined ramps for younger toddlers to climb up (rather than just steps like many structures); medium height to offer excitement to older toddlers without much danger; four good slides; a fun elevated tunnel; and literally EVERY single feature available to playgrounds right now (steering wheels, chimes, tic tac toe, marble maze, gears, you name it!). Toddler X loves this structure, particularly the twisty slide.
  • Toddler structure is separated by area (not barrier) from the large "big kid" structure, which itself features some nice lower ramps but has plenty of dangerous fall spaces (such as a center opening with ladders going down) higher up, so be aware if your toddler heads that way. (Shown in bottom picture above.)
  • Two toddler swings.
  • Cool sand diggers (though the dads seem to enjoy these more than the toddlers do).
  • Ground surface is a mixture of sand and the squishy stuff. I'm not generally a fan of sand, but for some reason it doesn't bother me here. 
  • Bathrooms, benches, shaded picnic tables, grassy area, everything very clean and well-maintained. 
  • Situated in the midst of a pleasant neighborhood.
  • Ample street parking on Los Padres and Rosita, though I recommend parking on Rosita because Los Padres is busier, making for more risky car entrances/exits. 
  • Playground is not fully-fenced. There is a fence along the two sides facing the streets (it's at a corner), but the playground is completely open to the inside of the park. You do need to keep an eye on your kid. 
  • No shade on the play structures themselves.
  • Seriously can't come up with a single other "con," and I'm trying hard. 
Overall, a great neighborhood playground, with a play structure that's exciting for toddlers but feels safe enough that parents can generally relax. 

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