I recently started following @1000hoursoutside on Instagram, which encourages outside and nature play for young children. They promote a challenge to get followers to try to spend 1000 hours outside per year.
That breaks down to about 2.7 hours per day which feels like a lot. But on second thought…I really do think it’s entirely doable with some intentionality. I mean, except for the summer, the East Valley has some pretty unbeatable “play outside weather.”
One of the easiest ways I could think of to log some outside hours is to visit one of our many city parks. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite spots for you and your kiddos to enjoy a little sunshine.
Tempe, Rural & Baseline
There’s so much to do in this 125-acre park. Not only is there plenty of space to run and play, but there’s also the rec center, batting cages, and multiple sports fields/courts.
Highlights: Fiesta Playground with some big slides and a zip line, the Cloud splash pad, and pedal boat and surrey bike rentals.
Chandler, Germann & McQueen
Fun for big and little kids, there’s something for everyone here. Pretty centrally located and very easy to access from the 101. There’s a rec center and sports fields here, as well.
Highlights: 2.5 acre Playtopia! Playground which consists of Farm Land, City Land, and Critter Land complete with fossil dig in the sand. Always a winner!
Chandler, Arizona & Warner/Knox
In my opinion, this is Uptown Chandler’s hidden gem. Tucked away behind some bigger industrial areas, this park has surprisingly a lot to offer including a BMX skate park!
Highlights: Skate park, small splash pad, and playground with swings. There’s also some pretty big baseball fields and plenty of room for bikes/scooters.
Tibshraeny Family Park
Chandler, Chandler & Cooper
This is another lesser known but still super fun park. We’ve done many “donut and playground” birthday parties here and it’s just a perfect little park to kill a morning or afternoon.
Highlights: HUGE open fields to run and play, volleyball courts, running/walking trails along the canals, and a really good playground.
Desert Breeze Park
Chandler, McClintock & Ray
The big draw here is definitely the Desert Breeze Express train the takes your around the whole park, but don’t forget about the carousel, too.
Highlights: Great walking loops ranging from a quarter-mile to a mile, beautiful lake and a fairly large playground to complement the train and carousel.
Gilbert Regional Park
Gilbert, Higley & Queen Creek
I mean, what else really needs to be said here? SLIDES! This park is Slide Heaven! The littles can play in the toddler area while your bigger ones just climb and slide All. Day. Long.
Highlights: Slides (duh!), but also a splash pad, zip lines, and a nice half-mile loop around a lake.
Mansel Carter Oasis Park
Queen Creek, Sossaman & Ocotillo
The splash pad here is pretty legit with a pirate ship, but the playground is just up a small hill that doubles as extra play area. (Is no one else’s toddler perfectly content to just run up and down a hill and never touch the playground equipment? Just me? Cool.)
Highlights: Splash pad, playground with swings and a music area, lake with so many ducks, and biking/running loop.
Signal Butte Park
Mesa, Signal Butte & Elliot
My new obsession is this tucked away neighborhood park in East Mesa. It boasts 3 spaceship play structures that accommodate your littles, your bigs, and your mediums.
Highlights: So much climbing equipment, swings, and plenty of space to bring bikes/scooters or to just run around.
Mesa, Dobson & Rio Salado
Right next to the Cub’s spring training field, Sloan Park, Riverview’s big attraction is the giant 60-foot mesh/rope caterpillar climbing structure. Definitely don’t sleep on this one!
Highlights: 2 playground structures suitable for different age groups, giant climbing tower, splash pad, and lake fishing.
Mesa, Main St & Mesa
Great location in Downtown Mesa with a 9,000 square foot play structure and another splash pad.
Highlights: GIGANTIC treehouse-style playground complete with 500 foot suspension bridge, and there’s also a Food truck/Food court area for a nice lunch with the family. Pioneer Park is recognized as a “Great Public Space” by Great Places in America.
Scottsdale, Chaparral & Hayden
100-acres of open air fun, this one even has a Dog Park! Huge greenbelt for multi-use and another lake for boating or fishing.
Highlights: Sand volleyball and basketball courts, playground, and a pool.
Bonus: Chaparral Park is inclusive with accessible swings and wheelchair accessibility on the play structure.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Scottsdale, Indian Bend & Scottsdale
But if trains are really your thing, then this is the park for you! Take a ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad then take a spin on the 1950s vintage carousel. A truly beautiful park that even adults will love.
Highlights: Scottsdale Railroad museum, Western World playground, and they even do holiday lights!
This barely scratches the surface of what our beautiful community has to offer. But here’s to the start of enjoying lots for time outside in 2021!
Happy Playing, East Valley!