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Boulder may be small compared to Denver, but parents here live large when it comes to well-maintained, modern playgrounds. There are so many options, “Park Paralysis” (an unscientific term, of course) can set in. Conversations about where to meet can take several rounds of group texting, and your parent-friends are always on the hunt for the next best park. Think you’ve seen them all? These eight playgrounds have something for all ages—yes, even tweens (if you can get them to come along).
If your little one is…
A sand fan
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Visit: Salberg Park
Address: 3045 19th St.
Key features: Three diggers (two sit-ons and one standing) live in a large sandbox. B.Y.O. sand toys for the rest of the giant play area, where there are also two giant bowls of sand to climb into.
Other draws: The “market” booth (which also, curiously, features a joystick) under the main structure is fantastic for imaginary play. There are also rock- and rope-climbing structures that mimic a climbing gym.
A slide fanatic
Visit: Melody Park
Address: 16th Street and Kingwood Pl.
Key features: Various-sized slides for all ages; a rope trapeze you can climb up, over, and across
Other draws: A couple of hard-to-describe ride-on toys that go around-and-around using kids’ bodyweight
Visit: East Boulder Community Park
Address: 5660 Sioux Dr.
Key features: A giant dinosaur—complete with teeth—lying in the sand, lots of footprints, and Colorado-focused dinosaur trivia
Other draws: A unique wooden slide that is reminiscent of a warehouse conveyor belt, and several types of bridges. (Note: Wear shoes when it’s hot—one of the bridges is made of rubber. Ouch!)
Bonus: An adjacent pond allows for boating, and a portion is roped-off for your furry kids to enjoy.
Visit: Foothills Community Park
Address: 800 Cherry Ave.
Key features: Three parks, all within walking distance and connected by paths, make it easy to spend a half-day bouncing from place to place. The main playground, which has everything from a small zipline to built-in musical instruments, is a staircase away from a more fitness-focused structure—and swings with a view to die for. Head southeast down the multi-use path and find yet another park, complete with a kids’ clubhouse, for more fun.
Other draws: Bring your bikes—the trail system winding through this area is expansive. Watch hang-gliders land in the massive field between the two parks. Three shelters, which you can reserve for groups, are perfect for parties.
Bonus: Head to Elks Park (more below) for a much larger zipline that’s even fun for adults (or so we’ve heard).
A tree hugger
Visit: Elks Park
Address: 3995 N. 28th St.
Features: Kids go nuts for this revamped park’s “imitation” log slides, stumps perfect for jumping and balancing, and tree trunks for climbing.
Other draws: Stop under the huge picnic area for a break from the sun and a game of “I Spy” with large-scale mosaics of bugs, flowers, and more on either end of the shelter.
Bonus: Around the fence on the park’s west side is a smaller, nameless neighborhood park with basic features.
A fearless climber
Visit: Dakota Ridge Park
Address: 501 Dakota Blvd.
Key features: An impressive, spider web-like net, rope bridge, and other opportunities to improve balance and coordination abound at this play area. There’s also a small park, owned by the Dakota Ridge HOA, across the street.
Other draws: A map of the U.S. is built into the play structure, as well as an abacus for beginner counters
Bonus: Dakota Ridge is also great for dinosaur fans, featuring fossils and dinosaur footprints both throughout the park and on the surrounding multi-use paths.
A budding spelunker
Visit: Arapahoe Ridge Park (colloquially known as “The Cave Park”)
Address: 1220 Eisenhower Dr.
Key features: This beautiful slew of rocky flagstone tunnels and mazes is sized for kids, who can learn to navigate and explore its narrow tunnels and hidden pockets on their own. A large overhang at the base of the cave lets kids dig in the sand under cover of shade. Note: Long pants are recommended even in the summer, because this playground features real rocks.
Other draws: The nearby Eisenhower Elementary School playground provides a second location for kids who need a change of scenery or are too young for the rock tunnels.
Into the latest and greatest
Visit: Crestview Park
Address: 1897 Sumac Ave., Boulder
Key features: Reopened the last week of July (the website still features a before photo), Crestview Park boasts amazing Flatiron views, a futuristic treehouse-like structure, climbing trapezes, and lots of built-in hills—so bring your play cars and trucks!
Other draws: On the other side of the park’s ample picnic shelter is a rock-enclosed sandbox and playhouse with a faux tree-stump table and chairs. Take the multiuse path around the corner to check out the nearby elementary school’s playground, too.
More: Visit Boulder Parks and Rec for an official list of all city-run parks.