Friday, September 12, 2014

Shadiest (in a good way) Playgrounds in the South Bay

Plentiful shade at La Rinconada Park in Los Gatos
Best Shade

While the rest of the world envies California's blue skies and bountiful sunshine, sometimes us Californians just want to spend an afternoon in the cool shade of some big trees. While the amount of shade a park gets obviously varies with the time of day and the time of year, here are a few where I've consistently found at least some of the playground features to be shaded.

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Now for the shade report...
  1. La Rinconada Park (Los Gatos) (A ton of shade around play structure and surrounding benches.)
  2. Portal Park (Cupertino) (Toddler area is very shaded, with at least one bench in the shade.)
  3. Greystone Park (San Jose -- Almaden) (Plenty of shade over toddler area and benches from morning through mid-day.)
  4. Cooper Park (Mountain View) (Tons of shade over the whole playground.)
  5. Hamann Park (San Jose) (Not my favorite structure, but a ton of shade.)
  6. Cuesta Park (Mountain View) (Great shade over the sand play area and swings.)
  7. Varian Park (Cupertino) (Tons of shade over toddler structure.)
  8. Creekside Park (Cupertino) (Tons of shade over toddler structure, though big kid structure gets full sun.)
  9. Calero Park (San Jose)(Great morning to midday shade.)
  10. Backesto Park (San Jose -- Downtown) (This playground gets almost complete shade all day, but unfortunately can be "shady" in another way as well.)
  11. Bachman Park (Los Gatos) (A good amount of shade.)
  12. Gardiner Park (Saratoga) (Not the best toddler playground, but the part geared for toddlers has a ton of midday shade)
  13. Rinconada Park (Palo Alto) (Tall trees offer shade to fenced toddler area for much of the day.)
  14. Washington Park (Sunnyvale) (Big kid structure gets tons of shade, though none in toddler area.)
  15. John D. Morgan (Campbell) (Budd entrance playground has shade from tall trees)
  16. Jackson Park (Mountain View) (Toddler area gets great shade, but not a whole lot to do there.)
  17. Houge Park (Cambrian) (Tall trees give a.m. shade to the toddler structures.)
  18. Rainbow Park (West San Jose) (Part of toddler area and surrounding benches get good midday shade.)
  19. Willow/Frank Bramhall Park (Willow Glen) (Half the playground has morning shade, half afternoon.)
  20. River Glen Park (Willow Glen) (Tall trees give the toddler and sand areas shade at various points of the day.)
  21. Serra Park (Sunnyvale) (Tall trees offer shade to different parts of the playground at different times of the day.)
  22. Central Park (Santa Clara) (Tall trees offer shade at various points of the day.)
  23. Three Oaks Park (Cupertino) (A lot more than three oaks offer plentiful shade over swings and part of big kid structure, though the toddler area itself gets lots of sun.)
  24. Jollyman Park (Cupertino) (Tall trees offer shade over the smaller structure at various points in the day.)

Please note that these reviews are based on my observations or experiences on the day(s) I visited the park in question, with my own particular toddler. Park conditions can change, the clientele may vary day to day, and things that are safe and fun for one child may not be for another. I do not vouch for the safety or security of any of the parks or playgrounds listed here, and I recommend that you use your own best judgment when determining whether to visit or stay at a park, and whether that park is appropriate for your toddler.


  1. Jollyman park in Cupertino has decent shade in the toddler area, also Hathaway Park in San Jose has at least partial shade all day.

  2. Going down the list myself with my three kiddos, and wanted to add a note that La Rinconada Park in Los Gatos did not have a bathroom anywhere in site for us to use. Other than that it was a great shaded park.

    1. There are bathrooms outside the pool, just down the path from the toddler area.


Hmm...what to do today?