Friday, July 20, 2018

vadnais heights community park

It's far and few in between that we find a park which has a good mix of gross motor challenges for both arms and legs. Playgrounds tend to lean one way or the other. Last week's adventuring brought us to a park with a great balance of both: Vadnais Heights Community Park (661 County Road F East).

We were all impressed with the expanse of climbing equipment and multi-level build of the play structure that accommodated gross motor challenges for legs. We spent what energy we had left (it was a two-park-stop kind of morning) exploring the play area.

Here's what you need to know:
Parking: Lot
Age range (playground): 1+
Sidewalks: Paved to and around park
Seating: Benches around play area
Bathrooms: Inside community center
Picnic tables: Several in picnic shelter
Grills: None
Sports field: Several (see website for complete listing)

My oldest kiddos are at that age where they can climb most playground equipment without help (a big shout out to their bunk bed for its role in teaching them that). So when they see a playground with toddler-friendly monkey bars and netting, they get pretty stoked.

They were so stoked, in fact, that I was just leaving the car with L by the time they reached the playground (but not stoked enough to skip their recharge snack).

Surrounding the playground is ample shade. We parked ourselves here while we snacked. In a nearby building, we could hear a summer kids' program in session. Since they ended without coming to play before we left, my guess is they had visited the park earlier.

The play area is composed of several pieces: a large playground for kids 3+, a smaller playground for kids 1+, and a swing set. There's also a circular climbing wall, balance beam, and tall curved climbing ladder.

The larger playground is in great condition and sits at the forefront of the park. It has a variety of slides, monkey bars, nets, stairs, a ramp, and a bridge. There are also long and wavy horizontal bars that run over the netting. Older kids can turn these into additional ways to cross this playground.

Titus (3) and Madi (4.5) enjoyed making their way across the netting and trying out the slides. Madi also tackled the elevated net while Titus stuck to just the ground-level one. Zoey (18 months) also had fun climbing all the way to the top of the structure and going down the tallest slide.

The smaller playground sits at the back of the park near a wooded area. It's really simple in design: two small slides; a couple steps; and some noisy interactive toys. There's a definite difference in the age of this playground compared to the other: It's much older and the wear is noticeable.

Madi poked her head in to see what there was to see, but didn't find anything here interesting. Titus and Zoey played here for about 10 minutes before finding something more interesting to do.

All of us enjoyed the double swings featured at the swing set. It was my first time riding this type of swing and I found it really fun to be so close to Zoey while we rode. Like the smaller playground, the swing set is in fair condition.

Next to the play area is a grove of trees on mildly hilly terrain. Madi and Titus had a blast running around trees and up and down the gentle slopes. They had so much fun even Zoey ran out to join them.

The picnic shelter sits next to the grove of trees. There are several picnic tables available for use, but no grill, unfortunately. Beyond the picnic shelter and grove of trees is the sports fields.

The major downsides of Vadnais Heights Community Park are the absence of an easy-to-access bathroom and its potential for traffic. Since it's located right next to the city's Commons (an event center) and one of its fire stations, and since it's home to several sports fields, I can imagine it gets busy, especially during the summer months.

An addition downside is the lack of a grill at the picnic shelter. While you can host an event here with plenty of space to entertain and things to do, getting fresh-grilled food isn't an option unless you're planning to bring your own grill.

We loved the different colors this park boasted. The diversity of play equipment available here was a unique and appreciated quality. We highly recommend it as a stop for any parent or guardian with antsy kids who needs to kill a couple hours of the day.