It’s when I’m driving around a park looking for a rumored “hidden” playground, that I realize my dire need for a night out with adults. Despite this fact, I persevered and finally found the second playground at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro. I was embarrassingly excited to find it. But hey, we’re moms, we have no shame.
Most people know about the main Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins Regional Park. But few people know about the second, more hidden playground.
I tried a few times to drive around and find this other playground. I read about it in the Imagination Playground pamphlet that lists all 25 of these creative, unique playgrounds located throughout Prince George’s County. My kids and I are slowly working our way through the list, visiting all of them. But this particular one, called the Maryland Horse Racing Playground, had eluded me numerous times.
One evening while wasting my life away on social media, I read a post in a local moms’ Facebook group about how a mom stumbled upon this other playground at Watkins Regional Park and how cool it was. She gave specific directions on how to find it. I was so excited I almost woke up my sleeping husband. Luckily I didn’t, because frankly, nobody needs that kind of judgment that late at night.
So the very next day I packed up the kids and headed to Watkins Regional Park, armed with my specific directions for the horse playground. Of course we had to stop at the Wizard of Oz playground first, then we enjoyed lunch at one of the numerous covered pavilions and took a ride on the little train. But since it was a nice summer day, the main playground was soon packed with families and summer camp groups. So we headed to the van and once buckled in, went out in search for the elusive horse playground. We followed signs towards the Nature Center, which we passed on the left. We turned right towards the camping areas and followed the road all the way to the last camping section. Back under a group of trees, we found the hidden playground! It was empty. It was shaded. It was perfect.
The Horse Track theme was cute, and as with all the Imagination Playgrounds, there were many unique whimsical decorations. The playground was smaller, but I liked it. Sometimes I get stressed at larger playgrounds, trying to keep track of both my kids. This one had two separate play structures, one for younger children and one for older kids, but my boys enjoyed playing on both sets. The one for older kids could be a little nerve-racking for kids younger than 3 as it’s pretty tall, but my boys really loved all the different slides. We easily spent almost an hour there and only one other family joined us during that time.
So without shame, I enthusiastically encourage you to check out the other playground at Watkins Regional Park the next time you need a break from the crowds. And when you do, if you see a mom there who’s having a little too much fun riding the spring-mounted racing horses, don’t judge.
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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.