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.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Best Splash Pad South of Boston - Braintree Watson Park!

Going to the Braintree Watson Park splash pad is like a day at the beach, without the sand. Parking can also be like beach parking, with a long death walk in the sun. But persevere, you're kids will worshsip you when you get there and it makes for great leverage. Unfortunately for Mom, Dad, or whoever, it's not going to be much fun on a sunny, hot day. You will fry and become completely annoyed as there is no shade. Hey, life's a beach and stop complaining. You're just the driver and snack lady. Also, needs twice as many seats and trash cans. How about some picnic tables under the shady tree. At many splash pads closer to Boston, I've seen purgolas and canopies for shade...and few little trees can have huge potential later on. 

Just go. It's a blast.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Beacon Hill - Phillips Street Park

Do children live in Beacon Hill? When I lived in Beacon Hill, well before becoming a Playground Hopper, it seemed young, single professionals carrying coffee cups and older couples with pretty gardens ruled Charles Street. The steep hills, brick cobbles and narrow sidewalks gave the Hill charm, not little ones with cute booties sticking out of carriages. What mother in her right mind would want to stroll those hills? Well, turns out, behind those heavy Georgian red painted doorways up and down the hill are lots of little Bostonians, and I found two spots where they play; the Myrtle Street playground and the Phillips Street Park. 

Both are a good stretch of the legs, but once at the top, you will feel fully immersed in the Beacon Hill experience. Having made the climb pass all the beautiful homes with their pretty window boxes and iron-laced front steps, you deserve a nice rest at the Phillips Street Park, a beautifully terraced park perfect for breathing in the atmosphere.


The play structure looks like a giant, twisted, metal spider and wasn't a big hit with the Hoppers. Now that I think about it, the exhausting hike up the hill may have contributed to their lack of enthusiasm. A fabricated hill with a slide or a climbing structure with a gold dome at the top would have been perfect. Where is the context here? For toddlers, your best bet is Myrtle Street.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bradley M. Lessa Memorial Playground - Stoughton

To get to the Bradley M. Lessa Memorial playground in Stoughton, you take a turn off a country road down what seems to be someone's private driveway. It's a perfect gateway for what's to follow. After a short drive down a gravel road and past a little pasture with a couple of cows, you can just make out the red, yellow and green of the playground beyond some trees. This is a nice retreat for nature lovers not interested in Main Street or schoolyard playgrounds. Similar to Endicott Park in Danvers, there are pretty pastures to wander around and pick flowers. Plenty to do for big and small kids, with lots of seating, tables and an ample amount of shade. Located on 1258 West Street in Stoughton.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Endicott Park - Danvers - North of Boston

A double whammy for Playground Hoppers at Endicott Park in Danvers. It has both a playground and a beautiful farm with acres of pastures, trails and a pond. The playground is tucked away and surrounded by a picture perfect pasture, framed by a pretty white fence.

The plastic equipment doesn't exactly blend with the scenery, which is a thorn in the side of some naturalists. As Hoppers, we agree as we've been through the rabbit hole, and we know about natural playgrounds on the other side. We've done our research. Check these out! On the hot, sunny day we visited, it was more of a somersault-in-the-shade kind of day, as the playground equipment was too hot to touch. Oh, and bring $3 for parking. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Winthrop Square and Minot Rose Garden in Brookline - A Slice of Heaven

This slice of heaven is a cozy shelter from the hustle and bustle of Beacon Street, with lots of two hour parking available along the perimeter on St. Paul Street. A canopy of massive trees shelter this wonderful park from the sun. Perfect for babies. If you time it right, you can find shade in every corner of the playground. A water fountain works as a splash pad with four big sprayers. The entrance to the park is a rose garden. Does it get any better than that?  Brookline has many other parks we'd like to check out. Here is a list we will chip away at this summer. They have a great map that will help us navigate the twisted layout of this very cool neighborhood.