The time we went to the best parks ever

The man, little one and I took a much-needed mini vacation over Labour Day weekend, leaving all laptops at home and smartphones turned off. We went camping in the Finger Lakes/Central region of New York State in Bowman Lake State Park and on the Saturday spent the day in Ithaca.

First we drove to Taughannock Falls Sate Park, about 20 minutes north of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake, for a picnic and some beach time. This beach has one of the coolest playgrounds we’ve ever been too. It had some really different and challenging equipment and structures, especially for big kids and adults. The little one is a climber so this place was perfect for her. Even the man and I couldn’t just stand and watch.

Plus, after some playtime and a swim, we got to take a hike in and along a gorge to a huge waterfall!

After Taughannock we headed back into Ithaca for some dinner. Along the way we stopped at the Ithaca Children’s Garden. This place was so neat and so much fun; every city should have something similar.

The best part was the Hands on Nature Anarchy Zone. It was a natural playground where the equipment consisted of trees (with ropes to encourage climbing), a huge tree swing, old tires, logs, boulders, planks of wood, a pile of hay, cardboard, real shovels and rakes, big mounds of dirt and mud! There was also a flower maze, a huge vegetable “tasting” garden, an outdoor classroom, musical instruments, a pop bottle green house, a nursery and even a pet bunny. One of the most incredible feature was Gaia the GIANT turtle. The little one LOVED jumping off her nose. There are a couple good videos on the website that will give you a better sense of what the Ithaca Children’s Garden is all about.

It even offers year-round programming, after-school care and summer camps! I would love to see something like this in Ottawa. There is a small and lovely Children’s Garden at Robert Legget Park in Old Ottawa East, but this takes it to a whole other awesome level. Forget all the fundraising for fancy play structures, this would be so simple, cheap and perhaps more beneficial…

We had such a good time at these parks that I’m considering planning next year’s camping vacation around great parks and playgrounds!

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Where are your favourite places to play?


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