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Urban Outdoor Wonderland: Joy Park

Your kid's new favorite outdoor playland doesn't even require a drive outside city limits. 

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A giant sand mound, kid-sized ziplines, an inviting streambed, oh my! Joy Park, a 30,000-square-foot outdoor oasis at the Children’s Museum, opens to the public on Saturday, June 13 following nearly eight years of planning, fund-raising, and building. Situated between the Children’s Museum—which is in the final stages of an indoor expansion wrapping up in November—and the South Platt River, Joy Park integrates multiple landscapes that encourage kids (and parents) to run up and down the hillside to explore.

Start at the sand dunes: You might as well dress in construction orange because trucks, buckets, shovels, and water make these deep dunes a full-on construction zone. (Designers claim that kids won’t ever reach the bottom of the dune’s foundation.) It’s tough to choose a favorite hangout at Joy Park, but the stream certainly that runs through the park certainly ranks high. The waterbed is filled with natural materials for kids to build dams and toy boats with, and foldable stools line the banks for parents to dip their toes in while the little ones play.

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Further up the hillside, kids can explore a natural amphitheater, race on dueling ziplines, and build forts (with over-sized Lincoln Log type beams) at the summit near the flagpole. And when everyone needs a break and some fuel, spread out some beach towels or a blanket to enjoy a picnic lunch, which you can bring from home. Admission to Joy Park is included in normal museum ticket prices, so take a break from the sunshine after lunch to let the kids enjoy their favorite indoor exhibits before heading home.

Follow assistant editor Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter @LindseyRMcK.

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