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Six of WNY’s must-visits for kids

Once upon a playground



Photos by Christopher Schobert

 

If there are children living in your household, then there’s a good chance you are literally minutes away from visiting a playground. And that’s a positive thing. After all, playgrounds offer that rare outdoor physical activity site that doesn’t cost any money. A rarity, that.

 

Last summer, my kids and I broke down some of our local favorites in a feature for The Buffalo News: Billy Wilson Park in Williamsville, Buffalo Harbor State Park Playground, Butterfly Athletic Park at Wales Primary School, Charles E. Burchfield Nature & Art Center Playground in West Seneca, Hamburg Community Playground, and Smallwood Drive School in Amherst.

 

But that stellar sextet was just the tip of the teeter-totter. There are many, many more playgrounds worth a walk or drive in this area. Here are six more the Schoberts, especially the five- and nine-year-old Schoberts, adore.

 

Note that all of the options here have the playground staples (slides, climbing apparatuses, etc.) unless otherwise stated. Some elements—like swings—won’t be found everywhere. Let’s get playing.

 

 

Eggert Road Elementary School

3580 Eggert Rd., Orchard Park

The Eggert playground is long. It’s also unique, with a number of cool little details, from a fire truck to some chair swings. Also here: basketball, tennis, and foursquare courts. But it’s the two separate playgrounds that most impress. Full disclosure: Eggert was my elementary school, but the playground of my youth was very different.

Bathrooms on site? No.

Separate play area for little ones? Yes.

Any surprises? Eggert actually has a covered pavilion for shade and snack-eating.

 

 

Hamlin Park Playground

166 South Grove St., East Aurora

Hamlin Park is quite something—a giant space featuring a pavilion, lots of green space, basketball courts, and a playground bearing the Fisher-Price name. It is fitting, then, that the play areas were filled with toy-like red, blue, and yellow pieces. Note that a very nice playground at Parkdale Elementary School is only a five-minute drive away.

Bathrooms on site? Yes.

Separate play area for little ones? Yes.

Any surprises? The Chestnut Ridge-style chair swings are a nice touch and move pretty quickly when mom or dad is pushing.

 

Harris Hill Elementary Playground

4260 Harris Hill Rd., Williamsville

Harris Hill is one of the most unique playgrounds in this area because it’s, well, pleasantly dated. It’s an old-style wood playground from top to bottom, and the sight brings back some memories for adults. Chock-full of places to sit and loaded with nooks and crannies, it’s a maze-like space that offers countless areas to explore.

Bathrooms on site? No.

Separate play area for little ones? No.

Any surprises? There are lots of little hiding places scattered throughout the playground, so the surprise may come when your kids are trying to delay leaving.

 

Mason’s Mission Pendleton Park Playground

6570 Campbell Blvd., Lockport

After I wrote the playgrounds piece for the Buffalo News last summer, I received a message from a reader telling me I missed the area’s best playground: Mason’s Mission Pendleton Park Playground. Guess what? That reader may have been right. It’s a stunningly large, very diverse collection of unique pieces, many swings, and lots of ways to make music. Many of the devices are ideal for children with sensory issues, making it a playground that all kids can enjoy equally. This little-known gem in the Northtowns is absolutely worth the drive.

Bathrooms on site? Yes.

Separate play area for little ones? Yes.

Any surprises? The story of Mason’s Mission is tremendously moving, and it’s part of what makes this playground so special. Read more about the story and find info on other Mason’s Mission playgrounds. https://masonsmissionfoundation.org/our-playgrounds.

 

 

Shoshone Park Playground

1978 Hertel Ave., Buffalo

The playground at Shoshone Park is one of our favorites in the city. It’s simple but nice-sized, offering neat details like a twisty caterpillar and lots of seating. It appeals more to younger children; my young daughter was delighted.

Bathrooms on site? Yes, at the nearby baseball fields.

Separate play area for little ones? Yes.

Any surprises? Even on a rainy day, there was a lot to do here—but maybe bring a towel to dry off the slides.

 

Stiglmeier Park Playground

810 Losson Rd., Cheektowaga

Located in Cheektowaga and just minutes from Lancaster and West Seneca, Stiglmeier Park appeals to kids of many ages. It’s located in direct sun, but there are plenty of shady trees close by. My son’s favorite element was a strange-looking twisting climbing wall; seeing him chilling on the top of the thing was stressful for me, but a joy for him.

Bathrooms on site? Yes.

Separate play area for little ones? Yes.

Any surprises? There are a number of nearby walking paths.

 

Christopher Schobert is a frequent contributor to Buffalo Spree and Forever Young.

 

 

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