Friday, August 16, 2013

Playground Review: Gardiner Park (Saratoga)

Stage 2 of the Toddler Tour de Saratoga: Gardiner Park, on Portos Drive (off Allendale, near West Valley College). One of the prettiest playground settings I've ever witnessed and a great place for school age kids, but I can't give it a big thumbs up for the toddler crowd. Here are my thoughts:
  • Gorgeous creekside setting, surrounded by huge oak trees and plenty of shade.
  • Two nice baby swings, both fully shaded, fun sand diggers in the toddler section, and a little play house that Toddler X loved.
  • Saw a few adults walking dogs at the park, but we had the playground all to ourselves.
  • The playground is NOT fenced and is very close to a ravine (small for an adult, but could be a big fall for a toddler) containing a rocky creek bed (currently dry, but fills in winter). I've seen older kids happily playing down there, but a toddler could take a big spill and the proximity is close enough that the toddler-watcher would have to be constantly on guard.
  • There is no toddler play structure, and the big play structure is high, with enough openings that the toddler-watcher would again have to be ready to sprint in for a rescue at any moment.
  • The toddler play area, with its two swings, play house, sand diggers and small tunnel structure, is probably not enough to keep a toddler entertained for a substantial amount of time. Plus it's surrounded by cinder blocks and rocks -- with the sand ground covering, I could see a toddler tripping and ending up with a nasty head bump.
  • No bathrooms
I'm not trying to be neurotic, but the point of this page is to make recommendations specific to the needs/personalities/inclinations of toddlers. While this playground will be GREAT for us in a few years, right now I would be worrying constantly about the creek, the ravine, the rocks and the high play structure, and that's not what a good playground is all about.
Verdict: Save this playground for when your tot hits kindergarten

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