Hmm...what to do today?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Playground Review: Stojanovich Family Park (Campbell)


It was a fun day of discovery for Toddler X and his buddy as we made our way to Stojanovich Family Park in Campbell for the first time. What a neat spot! Cool, unique playground features, a clean, well-maintained park area, and a great location make this almost the perfect place for toddler fun. But a complete lack of convenient parking and a near-complete lack of shade might make you think twice before you visit, or at least plan well before you make the trip. Here's my review:


Pros
  • Very, very cool (and unique!) playground structures and features, many of which reference Campbell's agricultural past. Beyond the main play structure, there is a fun metal tube/tunnel (meant to be an aluminum fruit can?) big enough for parents to fit in (much to their toddlers' delight!), a wooden springboard platform, a cool tire and hill set-up, and cute little apple features for climbing. It's very visually appealing, partly because it's so different than the cookie-cutter parks we usually go to.
  • The play structure itself is labeled for ages 5-12, but is pretty toddler-friendly. It has two slides (including a twisty slide), some fun features (including both letter and number learning features), and a cute water tower theme (reminiscent of the Campbell water tower down the street). There is only one opening at the chest-high level that could pose a problem for young toddlers, and the stair railings will be too high for some toddlers to grasp, but overall it seems to be a relatively safe structure for youngsters.
  • The park as a whole is new and perfect -- clean, well-maintained, with landscaping that seems to invite toddler interest, and at the same time seems pretty toddler-resistant (Toddler X enjoyed tromping on paths through the wild grasses, and they were no worse for the wear). 
  • A little "stream" (that's being generous -- it probably contained two gallons of water in total) winds through the park, breaking up the landscape and providing the opportunity to add a nice bridge. The banks of the stream aren't steep enough to be very troublesome (a fall could make your toddler muddy, but not much worse).
  • There are large grassy areas for running and playing, benches along the perimeter, and nice picnic tables. The park is enclosed on three sides by a wooden fence, and the pine trees along the fence-line provide nice shade and a fun place for toddler exploration. There are some cool climbing/sitting rocks in that area as well.
  • The bathrooms are spotless and include a changing table.
  • There are two toddler swings (no "big kid" swings), and they are separated by a good distance (and a bridge) from the play area, so no concern about run-ins.
  • The park was bustling on a Monday morning, with a very friendly group of moms, dads and grandmas, and no sensation of over-crowding. 
  • The location is SUPER convenient, just 1/2 mile from the Pruneyard down Union (the stoplight near Outback Steakhouse). The closest playground I previously knew was Campbell Park, which I really don't like, so I'm delighted to have another option to combine with Pruneyard outings.

But, alas, nobody is perfect -- and no park is either. Stojanovich does have some shortcomings.

Cons
  • There is NO parking associated with the park. There is a pull-in area for dropping off/picking up passengers, but that's not a heck of a lot of help if you're arriving alone with your child(ren). ("Hop out of the car and go play, guys -- Mama is going to go park, and will be there in about 10 minutes." Yeah, right.) The park is surrounded on all sides by apartment and condominium complexes, with parking lots restricted to residents only. The best solution we found was street parking on Apricot, about a block away. Our friend pulled up right behind us, so we walked over together, and managing two toddlers while walking on a sidewalk along a busy street is no fun! Worse, when we got there and discovered the lack of shade, we both realized that we'd left the kids' hats in the car, necessitating a trek back for one of us. Convenient parking is SUCH a nice feature, and unless you're a neighbor of Stojanovich Family Park, it's a feature that this playground lacks.
  • There is no shade on the playground areas. It got really, really hot.
  • Tanbark is the ground covering for the primary play structure area. Other areas had the squishy stuff I love.
  • Not fully-fenced, but it's a long, narrow park with most of the play areas at the rear, and it's fenced on three sides, so there's not a big safety risk, even with a relatively busy street outside. A couple of the fun features are located toward the street end of the park, so for those you just have to be sure to keep your toddler close at hand to prevent an escape.
Overall, this is a really, really nice park, with some really, really nice features. I can live without shade, and I can even handle tanbark, but the parking situation is a big issue if you have more than one kid, or if you tend to bring a lot of gear to the park. I do recommend you check this spot out because it's lots of fun, but please plan accordingly.

Happy toddling!

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