Who says kids get to have all the fun? Playing outdoors can and should be for all ages, so it’s no surprise to see communities across the city creating new outdoor play spaces, or redesigning existing ones to include features to attract and delight fun-seekers of all ages.
Sometimes called multi-generational playgrounds, these all-purpose recreational areas are popping up throughout Northwest Calgary. In fact, University District will be home to more than 8,300 square feet of interactive age-inclusive play space. Our Northwest Commons urban themed playground, scheduled to open this Fall, will include separate play areas for different age groups and special features like a life-size chess set and community ping pong table.
At University District, staying active at any age is important for a healthy body and mind, and fun. Gone are the days of the cliche image of grandparents sitting idly on a park bench as grandkids frolic, chase, slide and jump. Now there are opportunities for families to enjoy many activities together, like biking or exploring trails by foot, appreciating the natural beauty of the local parks with a camera, sketch pad or a field guide to flora and fauna, as well as making friends at innovative age-inclusive playgrounds.
If you would like to see some of what Northwest Calgary has to offer, here are some great places to start.
Located in the popular Bowness Park, this playground is one of the most widely used in the city with twisty slides, a catwalk, a ladybug bouncer, an Apollo spinner and saucer swings. Complete a fluid design that features a summer-fun spray park and wading pool, it is surrounded by walking trails, huge picnic areas and gazebos. This park is an ideal playground for kids, siblings, parents and grandparents.
Where: 8900 48th Avenue N.W.
The Hawkwood community initiative has pushed forward to diversify play spaces to encourage movement and play for residents of every age group. This multigenerational playground features a balance beam and vault bar that kids can clamber over and explore. Even better, Hawkwood Park is one of 13 parks that the CIty of Calgary has installed outdoor fitness equipment, including a standing jump station, push-up station and more – all to get playground goers hearts pumping.
Where: 95 Hawkwood Hill N.W.
This playground provides great opportunities for imaginative play at any age. The castle-themed climber outfitted with bridges, swings and a twisty slide offers enough variety to keep children occupied for hours. While the kids are at play, adults can get active too! The playground is surrounded by plenty of green space and walking trails, as well as outdoor fitness equipment, featuring several stretching stations, vault bar, bench curl station, and more.
Where: 10370 Hamptons Blvd. N.W.
The Arbour Lake playground has created a play environment for children, friends and family members of all abilities. The surrounding park area is gorgeous, complete with a nearby soccer field, mature trees and includes elements like a seated chest and leg press, sit-up station, cardio and air walker, elliptical, rowing machine and more.
Where: 555 Arbour Lake Drive N.W.
Spend some time at the Edworthy Park, a beautifully landscaped area surrounded by the river, walking and hiking trails, bike trails, shaded picnic spots, four playgrounds and an outdoor fitness park with a stretch station, sit-up station, elliptical and more. This outdoor play space offers something for everyone.
Where: 4075 Bowness Road N.W.
Playgrounds aren’t just for kids anymore. As George Bernard Shaw famously said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Do you have any outdoor play spaces we missed? Let us know your suggestions by connecting with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
It’s best to plan ahead when heading off to the playground. Depending on where you are going, here are seven items worth toting on your outdoor adventure:
1. Health and safety carry-all.
Visit the drugstore or pharmacy shelves for sample-size sunscreen, bug spray and portable wipes. Be sure to apply sunscreen before venturing out for a fun day of outdoor activities and reapply as directed. The same holds true for bug spray. Antiseptic wipes or hand sanitizers are handy before eating or after bathroom breaks. Keeping a small first aid kit with you just in case there’s a mishap — whether self-assembled or ready-made — is a smart safety net.
2. Food and drinks.
Staying hydrated is vital for you, as well as the kids. Packable juice boxes and refillable water bottles offer refreshment as drinking fountains are not always available. Be ready when hunger strikes. And who doesn’t get hungry when playing outdoors? Bring along some fruit, granola or protein bars, chips, crackers and cheese or a sandwich or wrap. With time to plan, a portable grill makes for delicious fun beyond snacking. Hot dogs or hamburgers or grilled corn on the cob require a little extra effort, but can prevent cutting a park visit short. Stop by a local market or to-go restaurant and bring a shwarma, pizza, salad selection or tray of cupcakes to share. Nothing is more fun than a picnic in the park.
3. Cell phone.
Bring your cell phone and make sure you have it programmed with emergency phone numbers. Put its camera to good use and snap a few pictures to make ordinary outdoor adventures last as precious memories! Populate your Facebook or Instagram feed and tag posts #UDLIFE for a chance to be featured on our feed.
4. A blanket, stools or folding chairs.
Parks are popular places and if benches or picnic tables are all occupied, you can make your own space on the grass to gather and lounge with a colourful blanket, camping chairs or stools.
5. Games and sporting gear.
A deck of cards, a jump rope, a frisbee, a ball or badminton set keep you active and allow you to make friends more easily by inviting others to join in and play. A jug of bubble juice and blowers is an affordable, dreamy way to keep kids giggling.
6. A book.
There is something about a trusted stand-by that triggers relaxation and wiles away the time; so bring a book. Whether it’s for you or the kids, to read or to colour, for facts or fiction, for homework or diversion, pop by the library en route to the park or playground.
7. Portable music.
Bluetooth speakers and a playlist of popular tunes can be a fun way to teach kids old-school nursery rhymes or let them teach you the lyrics to their favorite pop tunes. Dial up the fun or cue relaxation with portable music technology. Bring headphones if you’d respectfully rather not entertain the whole playground. Or bring an instrument, like a harmonica or ukulele, to enliven the day for all.
What not to bring? See how well you do entertaining the kids without an iPad or tablet. We hope our tips will help!
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and a closer look at the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.