Playgrounds are a go-to for any parent toting tots, and parks that offer play features geared toward the preschool crowd are a must. And a park that entertains both young kiddos and older siblings? Good as gold. Here are 11 Seattle playgrounds that are perfect for the under-5 crowd (but still fun for older sibs). And if you’re on the Eastside, check out these 14 parks for toddlers.
Loyal Heights Park
This Seattle playground is hot off the presses (it was just finished in early June) and packs a lot into a smaller space. Younger kids will appreciate a turf surface under a tot structure that is anything but boring. Older siblings can scale dual ladders to the top of a tower before sliding back down to enjoy a fun rope climber and challenging monkey bars. Enjoy a playdate snack on the smaller picnic tables or shoot hoops at the adjacent basketball court.
Restrooms: Currently none until the Loyal Heights Community Center reopens.
Snacks: Pick up a delicious Caribbean bowl or sandwiches for lunch at Un Bien (their roast pork is positively succulent), then pop into Frankie and Jo’s for vegan ice cream and gluten-free waffle cones (your meat and potatoes grandpa won’t know what hit him).
7554 22nd Ave. NW
West Woodland Park Playground
Headed to see Dinosaur Discovery at the Woodland Park Zoo? Take your post-visit picnic to the park and get out any last wiggles before the drive home. This expansive space features a sandbox, two sets of swings, challenging rope climbers and a large tot structure. My kids always seem to gravitate toward the spiral maze (which is also wheelchair-friendly) for a view from the top.
Restrooms: None, but there are restrooms before the entry adjacent to the zoo’s ticket office in case of emergency.
Snacks: Pick up a twice-baked almond croissant and coffee from Fresh Flours Bakery for a morning visit. Extend sandbox fun by eating outside at Bongos Cafe — bring a small sand toy or two (or ask for a plastic cup) and let the kids play in the sand while you wait for food (the maduros are delicious!).
Phinney Avenue North and North 59th Street
With a large grassy area and tall shrubs creating a nearly kid-proof fence, this park is perfect for pod playdates. Kids love the double slides and there are enough swings that everyone gets a turn. A classic wooden structure on the upper level entertains toddlers and big kids alike.
Restrooms: Multi-stall restrooms are open adjacent to the playground.
Snacks: Seattle classics Ezell’s Chicken and Dick’s are nearby, but if you’re here for pre-dinner playtime, pick up Afghan takeout from Kabul. This family-run spot offers food that is both sophisticated and kid-friendly — bolani turnovers, chicken kebabs with rice and a spinach stew are family favorites. We’ve had to resort to getting multiple orders of the savory ash (soup) so the kids don’t eat all of it.
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N
This play space has lots of unique features you won’t see elsewhere around Seattle. From a sandbox with musical elements to a curved rope climber and arched bridge that provide paths to the top of the largest play structure, kids and adults will appreciate the novelty. There are also tennis courts, a huge playfield and a wading pool (not open for 2021, but useful for balance bike practice) within the same complex. The whole space is fenced off and in a fairly residential area, so traffic is less of a threat.
Restrooms: Multi-stall restrooms with changing table
Snacks: Pick up a sandwich at Grand Central Bakery or try one of the savory congees at Secret Congee.
4219 Wallingford Ave N.
Kids love this simple park with climbers, spinners and a very tall hillside slide. It’s also the perfect place to spend some time admiring the spectacular city view from its splashier uphill neighbor, Kerry Park.
Snacks: Pick up an azuki doughnut or shokupan bread from the Interbay location of Fuji Bakery. If your visit falls on a Thursday afternoon, head to the Queen Anne Farmers Market for picnic provisions.
270 W. Prospect St.
Discovery Park Playground
Located near the tennis courts, this Seattle playground is closest to the Discovery Park Visitors Center parking lot. However, I like to sneak a short hike into our visits by starting at the South Parking Lot and walking about half a mile to this spectacular playground. Featuring fun wooden climbers reminiscent of mountains, a super-tall climbing structure, swings and a zip line, there is plenty of space to spread out here (although it does get busy on weekends).
Restrooms: The Visitor Center (currently closed) has the closest restrooms, but if you start at the South Parking Lot, you’ll find some relatively clean porta-potties.
Snacks: Pick up a classic cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake from Red Mill Burgers in Interbay. Online ordering is available, but make sure to choose the correct location!
3801 Discovery Park Blvd. (Visitor Center)
This classic wooden playground has a triple slide, hanging rings (rarely seen anymore) and lots of resident ride-on toys for little ones. We parked on the street and combined our visit with an urban hike past Alvin Larkins Park and across a wooden pedestrian bridge with hidden gnomes (around Madrona Drive and East Pine Street).
Restrooms: Multi-stall restrooms are available, but were locked on an early spring visit, so have a back-up plan.
Snacks: Cupcake Royale is right across the street, so it’s hard to resist the call of their delightfully spongey vanilla cake.
3211 E. Spring St.
Yesler Terrace Park
This park truly has it all — all-abilities play structures, a slidable turf hill, plus water and city views. For the vehicle fans in your house, watch for helicopters coming in for a landing at nearby Harborview Medical Center and check out the hefty construction trucks currently down the hill. A splash park on the upper level will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting June 26.
Restrooms: None until the community center reopens.
Snacks: Tougo Coffee is conveniently located across the street. Brian — the owner, barista and baker extraordinaire — will remember your usual drink (mine is the Bitter Housewife Mocha), make your kids giggle and hand out recycled cardboard for better sliding down the playground’s hill.
903 Yesler Way
Sam Smith Playground
This beautiful park honors Seattle’s first Black City Council member. Some Seattle parks feel like carbon copies of the same pieces in brown and green, but this one is uniquely nature-inspired. You’ll find a fun turtle sculpture near the tot area and a unique butterfly climber on the larger play structure. Spin with a friend on the tire swing and trek bridges (with high siding to prevent falls). Ignore the Google Maps directions, which will take you to another part of this expansive park. You’ll find the playground off South Atlantic Street, not far from the tennis courts.
Bonus: A hop, skip and a jump away you’ll find Jimi Hendrix Park and the Children’s PlayGarden (limited public opening hours since it hosts a preschool). Add both to your itinerary to make a day of your visit.
Snacks: Head four minutes up the road toward Little Saigon where you’ll find Hello Em Viet Coffee (the egg coffee, a must-try, tastes like tiramisu in a cup).
29th Ave. S. and S. Atlantic St.
Race up rubber ramps, clamber over rope climbers, ride an elevator down, then do it all over again. With multiple connecting play structures for older kids, a tall zip line and a tot structure that doesn’t leave the littlest kids in the dust, there’s plenty of entertainment here. Be sure to check out the giant metal slide built into the hillside.
Restrooms: Extremely clean multi-stall restrooms available (with relatively low toilets for potty-training little ones).
Snacks: King Philly’s cheesesteak and wings can’t be beat, but they’re messy! Eating outdoors at a picnic table under the trees is a great way to minimize clean-up.
4351 S. Othello St.
Highland Park Playground
With a Jeep-themed spring rider, a climber that looks downright sculptural and play structures with plenty of places to test limits, you should plan on being here a while. There’s also a large playfield and a popular splash park for hot summer days.
Restrooms: Multi-stall restrooms available.
Snacks: Enjoy piping hot pupusas and comforting chicken soup (I can’t resist even on summer days) at the Salvadorean Bakery in nearby White Center. Order a sampler of cookies from their case — mini ones for your minis and a luscious alfajor for you.
1100 SW Cloverdale S.
More from Seattle’s Child:
Strawberry Season: 9 Seattle-area U-pick strawberry farms to check out
On the water: 11 options for Seattle boat rentals and tours
Gone fishing: Gold Creek Trout Farm makes fishing with kids easy
Originally published July 4, 2021