Hmm...what to do today?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Playground Review: Hall Memorial Park (Milpitas)


Toddler X and I decided to try Hall Memorial Park on a weekday afternoon in December, on the advice of one of our readers. Overall, we found it to be a great park. The playground areas are large, modern, clean and well-maintained and offer fun, nicely sized play structures and a few bonus features. The one big negative about our visit to this park: it was downright lonely! Seriously, we didn't see a single other person during our hour there, and only one or two cars even drove by on the neighboring street. Admittedly, we were there mid-afternoon on a school day, but still... Anyhow, here's our review:

Pros
  • Hall Memorial offers two separate play areas/play structures, separated by a short distance. The intent appears to be that one is a "big kid" area and the other a toddler area, but the design of the play structures really isn't that different (in terms of age-appropriateness), and Toddler X preferred the larger one. 
  • The playground area as a whole is large and spread out, and I can't imagine it ever feeling congested. Ground surface in both sections is part squishy stuff and part sand.
  • The larger play structure is huge, very modern and clean, and among the more toddler-friendly I've seen. It includes four slides and has a long, wide open layout (making it easy to see all parts and dart around if necessary to rescue a toddler in peril). Most of the high parts have great, toddler-friendly railings, although there are a few shoulder-high places where a toddler could tumble off.
  • Toddler section of the playground includes a structure that is smaller than the "big kid" structure, but similarly well-spaced and modern. Toddler section also includes a frog-themed sand play area, a darling playhouse with window tables and benches for pretend play, and two baby swings. 
  • Parking is available in a small lot or on the street bordering the park, either option being very close to the playground areas.
  • Park is located in a pleasant, quiet neighborhood.
Cons
  • Larger play area is unfenced, while toddler section is fenced on the street side only.
  • One of the two baby swings (the one on the left when facing the street) is bizarrely wide and seems dangerous -- a baby/toddler could absolutely flip out of it if pushed too high.
  • The toddler structure doesn't look much safer than the big structure -- in fact, some of the railings/openings make it look less safe, particularly across the bridge. It's about chin high at its highest, and it has two openings where a toddler could tumble.
  • The only play feature on the toddler structure is a tic tac toe (a weird, hard metal-ish one), but no steering wheel, bells or gears like you find on most modern structures.
  • Not much shade.
  • Kind of isolated --  not another person in sight, either in the park or in the surrounding neighborhood.
Overall, I highly recommend this park if you're visiting with some friends or perhaps going on a weekend when it's apt to be more crowded, but if you go by yourself mid-week, be prepared for some time in isolation.

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