Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Jackpot! Wards Berry Farm in Sharon.

Sharon, MA was voted the "Best Small Town in the USA" in 2013 by CNN Money, and the play area at Wards Berry Farm is one of the many, many reasons why it deserves that vote. We hit the jackpot. The play area has an all-natural setting surrounded by farmland on one side, and goodies like coffee, tea and muffins on the otherside. Parents have a place to sit and sip an ice coffee, and kids get their thrills. Everyone is happy.

There are stinky farm animals that the kids will want to pet, picnic tables and a public bathroom. We love the old school horse swings. Creek. Creek. 

The only other farm with a play area that we know of is Lookout Farm in Natick, but supposedly there is an entrance fee that includes other attractions like a kiddie train. Painful. We might miss that train. We want cheap thrills.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mayor Thomas Menino Park, Charlestown @ Spaulding Rehad

For two decades, Mayor Menino understood our natural and essential need for open space and cultivated a city wrapped in gardens, playgrounds, greenways and parks, and like the tangled roots of a bed of Lily of the Valley, the city is cushioned by a beautiful, intoxicating groundcover. Like a gardener who has found the perfect spot for the perfect flower, Mayor Menino looked out his window of the Spaulding Rehad in Charlestown where he was under care, and saw the perfect spot for a park that patients and families could enjoy, and for a time, forget their physical limitations and challenges.

After all, every parent should be able to push their child on a swing or hold their child's hand down a slide, and every child should be able to feel the thrill and pride when rocking a seesaw or spinning on a merry-go-round. At his last and poignant ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor Menino said, "The park here at Spaulding reflects my commitment to build a city that works for all of our people, not just some of our people." There are no limits to the imagination of any child at the Mayor Menino Park.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wake Me When It's Spring

Hard to believe it's been 5 months since we last hopped. Hopefully, some warm Spring weather will thaw the snow, and dry up the mud so we can get out there and tackle our playlist. Rub those rabbit feet for good luck! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Dr. Loesch Family Park in Dorchester

If you build it, they will come. The Dr. Loesch Family Park in Dorchester was an eyesore for years until Rev. Loesch and his team of crusaders dug into the ground and pulled out what is now considered an oasis for the city. Dr. Loesch says, "The whole point is encouraging more people to get out of the house and enjoy nature, and enjoy getting to know your neighbors." 

For Rev. Loesch, building a park is just one of his many  accomplishments. This brave, highly influential, and respected man is a Hopper Hero. As a member of Corporate Accountability International, he fired up a team of Dorchester teens from BOLD, and took on Big Tobacco, ending it's advertising in the The Boston Globe. He was also a Freedom Fighter who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King! I wish I could have bumped into him at the park.

The park's improvements include a cool new playground with lots of features we've never seen before, and wonderful landscaping due in part to the design firm of CBA. Coincidentally, our hopping has landed us a couple of other times in their parks; the Dickerman playground in Somerville, and the Phillips Street playground in Beacon Hill.

When looking to land at a cool playground, us Hoppers have learned to follow the designer. But sometimes, it's not the designer that makes a cool playground. It's where the inspiration came from; a person, a view, or a natural resource.  

It borders Wainwright Street, Brent Street and Melbourne Street. Plenty of parking. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Height of Coolness. The Franklin Park Zoo Playground, Boston.

On top of the highest point of the climbing structure at the Franklin Park Zoo playground, you can see giraffe waltzing by. We've seen some amazing views from playgrounds, but nothing beats the sight of a giraffe making it's way closer to you. Oddly enough, I don't think the kids appreciated it as much as I did. To them the huge slide shaped like the neck of a giraffe was more thrilling. 

Unfortunately, most of the pictures from our day were lost except for these two below of the giraffe and Little Joe. Suffice it to say, the playground was tremendous and perfectly placed along Boston's own little savannah where the giraffe and zebra roam.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mary O'Malley Waterfront Park and Playground - Chelsea

The diamond or spinning spider web is the big draw at the Mary O'Malley Waterfront Park and Playground in Chelsea. There is nothing like it anywhere, ever. The diamond can get up to speeds of 1000 miles an hour, suspending you horizontal and putting you and everyone around you in great danger. Kids start yelling "stop, stop" when they're about to be flung into the Mystic. "Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic." So much fun. 

There is also a nice tot spot, lots of shade and picnic tables. Plenty of parking too. A big thumbs up for yet another park in the tiny city of Chelsea.

After spinning on the diamond, take a peek under the Tobin. Creepy, but also fun.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

College Campus Swings - Major Fun

It should be a prerequisite on all college campuses. Students take relaxing swing breaks between class. You can have great conversations on a swing. Why not give a lecture? A student at Brandeis, Maayan Bar-Yam '12, had the same idea when he created these installments. 

In addition to a regular swing set, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY has the "scramble your brains to mush" contraption. 

 Seton Hill University, Washington DC

Hanging around at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia

Lake Superior University

Wake Forest University

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Play Me, I'm Yours - The Titus Sparrow Park - South End

Not exactly a playground, but definitely a place to play. Play Me, I'm Yours will place 75 pianos throughout Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline for anyone to sit and show off their chopticks. One location is at the South End's Titus Sparrow Park through October 14th.


We recently hopped to the playground at the Titus Sparrow Park, which is positioned within the South End neighborhood on West Newton Street, between Columbus and Huntington Avenue. This playground and park sits between the imposing Greek Revival style, 170 foot grand stone steeple of the Union United Methodist Church and the reflecting glass facade of the Prudential Plaza.


The park was designed by Boston's Halvorson Design Partnership,
who design many parks throughout Boston, including Post Office Square, inside the financial district. They also designed the Esplanade Playspace, another hopper's favorite spot. Once you immerse yourself in all these Halvorson parks and playgrounds, you'll never want to leave. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Children's Museum in Easton - The Wild Place

The Wild Place at the Children's Museum of Easton is every child's fantasy backyard. Mine too. It has a treehouse! And what child wouldn't want a giant white elephant in their backyard. Come on! You can really appreciate this spot sitting inside the secret garden or under the gazebo. Get comfortable in the shade while the kids dig in the sandbox, looking for dinosaur fossils, or drape their treehouse in pretty curtains. It's a great place for kids to explore and use their imaginations.

It reminds me of Hidden Hollow at the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, MA.

This learning landscape was designed by a team of players from the museum, the town and members of COGdesign, a community out-reach group that helps organizations with very little funds redesign their green space. Now, there is an idea for an HGTV show.





Sunday, August 11, 2013

Piers Park - East Boston along the Harborwalk

Traveling to East Boston was a little tricky as I didn't want to end up at the Delta departures. Luckily, we landed safely at Piers Park.  The park has pavilions, promenades, a picture perfect playground with sprinklers and tons of picnic tables. If you want to see Boston from a new, refreshing view, head to Piers Park at sunset. There are designated parking spots, as well as spots along Marginal Street.

East Boston may seem removed to most of us, but don't underestimate it's strong connection to the mainland. It's distance to the city and the beautiful parks and piers that reach out to it, frame the quintessential Boston postcard, and at sunset, a lovely goodnight to a hectic tourist's day. 

While East Boston may have it's eye on the city skyline, I have my eyes on that playground at Constitution Beach, a beach that is on the top 10 list of cleanest beaches in Metro Boston.