EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Playground | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'playground'

Cabrillo Playground

Cabrillo PlaygroundFinding a nice playground for your kids is a bit more difficult today. Kids need more today than the swings and slide that I used to get on what was called a playground. Thankfully there are a few new playgrounds popping up that keep this in mind and today we got to visit the newly renovated Cabrillo Playground.

The main thing with playgrounds is that they have to be fun. That’s pretty much all the kids are interested in while the parents are hoping it will be so much fun that the kids will tire themselves out so they won’t tear up the house when they get home. Well I have to say that our playground tester Rebecca didn’t hesitate when she saw the playground. Autistic children can sometimes have something that sets them off by new places, but there was no problem here.

The second she got inside she was running for the play structures and jumping and sliding around on everything. The biggest thing we noticed was that she was interested in trying everything here. Usually she just focuses on one part of a structure or finds one slide, but here it was everything she had to try out. Granted it was a weekday so it wasn’t super crowded, but there were lots of kids and all of them seemed to understand that running around and crashing into other kids wasn’t what you do in a playground. This was a good thing.

It was fun for Wife and I as well as we got some exercise chasing Rebecca around and the place overall is very nice and kept clean. I’ve often wondered about what thought people put into building playgrounds. Sand just gets everywhere and it seems like other than the occasional boy the sandbox areas are ignored by the kids [I won’t ask how the local feral cats like the sandboxes, but that’s probably part of the reason why you do see many anymore.] Then you have playgrounds shaded by trees. While that’s nice on a hot summer day for some reason they only seem to make playgrounds like that in parts of the City that are normally foggy and cold which causes a large collection of leaves and bark from the tree which break down under foot and create a nice healthy mulch. Well, it would be nice and healthy if anything was supposed to grow there, but it’s a playground, not a forest.

Thankfully, Cabrillo was well thought out since it’s in the middle of a residential block without looking like the old Russian industrial playgrounds as I used to call them. The playgrounds used to have just a depressing look about them and Cabrillo’s redo doesn’t have any of that. There are tennis courts and basketball courts that are separate from the play area along with the brilliant idea of using pavers to form hopscotch areas off to the side. I’m not sure if anyone even plays hopscotch anymore, but it just seemed like an easy addition that might make a retro comeback in the future. There’s also a concrete ping pong table that has very modern look [as opposed to Russian industrial] that I’m surprised no one ever thought of before. The net is made of punctured metal which would let you use it as a table if you were having a party there and afterwards you would just need to hose it off if you spilled anything on it. This would explain the drain holes in the ground around it. Whoever designed this did their thinking.

Around the outside of the playground which is fenced in with about a 20′ high fence are planted areas with lots of annual flowers mixed with a few perennials. It adds a nice touch and is done in such a way that kids would have to work hard to get at them. Inside planting are made up of succulents and other hard to kill plants which also just makes sense in a high traffic area.

If you have a kid, you’ll want to check this place out. The best thing is that it’s free and it’s clean. There’s nice drinking fountains and bathrooms here as well as cans out in front for people walking their dogs to deposit the waste. It’s a big plus for the neighborhood  and if you don’t mind driving to the outer Richmond it’s worth the time. Just be sure to bring some coffee and snacks as you’ll be there for awhile and you’ll have a few blocks walk to get to food and drink. You can see more in the gallery below.

Playgrounds R Us

Since it’s spring break and our daughter is too young to be running around half naked with drunken frat boys we have to find something to entertain her with. Now that we’re having real weather again in San Francisco we’ve been visiting some of the local playgrounds and have found a few surprises.

This week we went to a playground we haven’t been to in over a year. It’s the Junipero Serra Playground that a block away from the Stonestown Galleria. The nice part about this playground is you can’t see it from any major street. This means that it’s hardly ever crowded. At best there was maybe 12 people at the spot. If you’re a parent of an autistic child this place is a real god send because there’s not a ton of kids running around screaming with joy that can overwhelm your child.

The nice thing about playground today is that they aren’t like the ghetto, industrial playgrounds of my youth. Back in my day [christ I can’t believe I used that phrase] playgrounds were steel, concrete and sharp tanbark. They all looked like something built in cold war Russia. Now they are nice and soft with no sharp pointy things to poke your kids eyes out.

The playgrounds we have today are nice, generally peaceful spots where your kid can run around and well, be a kid. They have much more inviting structures with very little chance for injury and the parents don’t have to keep an eye on their kids as much because if a kid falls you don’t have to worry about a broken tooth or arm because they’re filled with soft puffy foam.

Now this could be construed as a bit of molly coddling for kids and a few people could make allusions to the real world isn’t soft and cuddly, but I don’t think we need to make our kids suffer the harsh realities of the world at a young age. They need a place that they can exercise their minds by making stuff up as they go along. I found myself watching my daughter on the structure in the picture above walking around like it could have been a pirate ship running and jumping and climbing in ways that I wished I could of as a kid.

Then there are people who think the opposite. They aren’t the young kids using their imagination they’re the bored teenage few that don’t have home computers with World of Warcraft to waste their time after school, but can find a way to get their hands on a few cans of spray paint and try to ruin it for the others.

Here was a pretty close to pristine playground except for the sand that always overflows the sand box and a couple of kids had to try and ruin it by leaving their names which no one can read because they lacked proper penmanship and they know that the city lacks the funds to clean up their damage after they’ve finished.

This playground has a really nice rec center, but I’ve never seen anyone inside it or any listing of events here. Around the corner is a set of picnic tables under a well constructed pergola that would be a perfect staging point for a small party. Aside from the graffiti the only thing wrong with this playground was that one of the drinking fountains was backed up. I found a few small sticks that I tried to loosen up the drain with, but it didn’t work. I did notice a guy from park and rec walked around taking pictures and making a few phone calls so hopefully this will be changed in the near future.

Perhaps some of the vandalism is due to the high cost of other attractions around San Francisco that can turn kids minds around. While most of the big attractions in San Francisco have a “Po’ people’s day” where they are open to the masses for free, that also makes them crowded and gives our kids less chance to see and learn from them. Luckily not all playgrounds have been hit with graffiti and vandalism. Today we will stop by another spot that will not have the graffiti and our daughter will have another chance to entertain herself.

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The Doelger Center

Since our daughter has two weeks off from pre-school we have to find something to do with her so she doesn’t build up enough energy to explode. So this morning we decided to take her to the California Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately we left a little before noon and the garage was full which means that the Academy would be full as well. Since our little one doesn’t like big crowds too much we made a change in plans.

Now normally I try to focus on San Francisco, but the Doelger Center is almost San Francisco because it’s right over the boarder into Daly City right before you get the Westlake. The Doelger Center is open on Wednesdays from 12pm-2pm and Fridays from 10am-2pm, but this was the last day it would be open before the end of the year.

If you have kids, this is a great place. For only $4 you can stay as long as you like. They have a bouncy house which for the $4 is worth it alone, but they also have lots of other soft play mats and climbing structures for the kids to play with as well as tricycles, slides, hula hoops and a few other things. While the bouncy house is always there some of the slides and climbing structures change depending on whims of the two guys from Daly City Park and Rec who run the place, but they always do a good job.

On my first outing here I was a little horrified to see regulation basketballs for the kids to play with [recommended ages are 5 and under] and then I picked one up and realized it was half flat. All the balls aren’t fully inflated. So I had to do a test. I had the friend I had taken my daughter with hit me in the face with the ball. It hurt, sort of, but I’ve been hit in the head with a fully inflated basketball and that hurt worse.

[mappress mapid=”14″]What I really like about this place is that it encourages the kids to think about how to play. They can use all the “stuff” to create their own play space instead of here’s your playground and this is how you’re supposed to play. One day I had about 6 kids laying down on a giant parachute as I pulled them around the gym. Luckily there was another Dad who helped out and took over for me so we could switch off without having a heart attack. You have your regular groups of Moms there and they all are very friendly and don’t seem to mind if your kids “interact” [that’s the term I like to use for crashing into each other]. They understand that kids are going to be kids. My daughter reached into one woman’s bag of tortilla chips from Chipotle one day to help herself and she laughed it off.

One of the fun things too about the Doelger Center is that around Halloween and Christmas they do a little extra. Halloween has a costumed parade of all the kids and ends with a bag of candy for each of them. Christmas, and this was my first experience of it here, they had a Santa giving out toys to all the kids. I did notice a bit of an Irish brogue as he talked and realized that he was probably a friend of the “Irish Mom’s Club” which is a group of Irish women who tend to sit together and talk while their kids wreak havoc on the place. I tried to keep our daughter away from Santa figuring that he only had enough toys for the kids in that group, but one of the Mom’s told me that they had enough presents for all the kids. Good thinking. You wouldn’t want to have your kid meet Santa only to be told he forgot her present.

Afterwards our daughter decided it was time to visit Chipotle for lunch. We drove down the block to Westlake and split a steak burrito bowl and chips and guacamole between the three of us [after all the burrito bowl gives you more than half your days calories]. Total cost for this outing? under $15. Now that’s a deal to take advantage of.