|No nets or guardrails here!|
While adventure playgrounds abound in Europe, there are less than a handful in the United States. One happens to be right here in Southern California.
At the one-acre Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach, kids can raft on a small pond, navigate a rope bridge, go down a mudslide and build forts with real tools (hammers and saws, plus nails and loose bits of wood). It’s the sort of place you’d imagine Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer would have loved.
Of course, there are a few rules in place to keep everyone safe – and staff on hand to provide reminders when needed. But beyond that, kids are invited to explore, play and build to their hearts’ content.
The Big Explorer and I, along with Michele from Fun Orange County Parks and her two kids, visited the Adventure Playground last week (You can read Michele's write up on the place here.). While we weren’t sure what the kids would think, it turns out they all agreed on one thing: The Adventure Playground was good for a couple hours’ worth of entertainment. But they we eager to see more.
Exploring Nature at Huntington Central Park
After a picnic lunch, we decided to check out the area surrounding the Adventure Playground, which just happens to be Huntington Central Park, the largest city-owned park in Orange County (it’s more than 350 acres!).
We couldn’t cover the entire park in one day, so we stuck to the immediate vicinity. We stopped at a lake for a while, where we saw egrets and baby ducks.
We walked along one of the park’s paved footpaths talking about trees, spotting butterflies and wondering why some of the waterways were full of what The Big Explorer termed "green goop." The kids stopped occasionally to play on the exercise course. And we treated ourselves to the first shave ice of the summer.
- Adventure Playground is open Mon. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; open mid-June through mid-August only (exact dates change yearly, so call to confirm)
- Admission to the Adventure Playground is $3 for kids, free for adults
- Suggested age is 5 to 12, but they don’t turn anyone away
- Everyone must wear closed-toed shoes (you can rent a pair if you don’t bring your own)
- Be prepared to get dirty. There is a shower & changing area, so bring extra clothes & a towel
- Portable potties are on site
- Snacks are available for purchase; best to pack a picnic lunch
- Ample free parking in the Huntington Beach Central Library parking lot
18000 Goldenwest St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 842-7442 or (714) 536-5486 when the playground is closed