Adam Kannegieser was looking for something to do with his youngest daughter while his eldest was at a party.
“Since she was just with me, I thought it would be more fun to go to more than one park—like a bar crawl but for kids.” And, he says, “a lot of the parks nearby are small, so to get more variety, we could go to multiple parks.”
Kannegieser and his daughter spent about 15 to 20 minutes (depending how much she liked it or if she found friends) at each park, then hopped in the car and kept moving. It worked out, he says, “because they have different themes or unique equipment to keep her entertained. “Plus, the car rides helped to get her to take a break, get a snack and drink water. We also could talk about the parks and what she liked.”
The playground hop turned out to be a success, and because Kannegieser’s wife, Jess, just so happens to be a graphic designer here at Chesapeake Family Life, the concept has taken off. While his initial park crawl was to local neighborhood parks and their local elementary school, we’ve since kicked the game up a notch. Here are two three-park playground hops that we tested out ourselves ,one in Annapolis and another in northern Anne Arundel County.
For more ideas on great playgrounds near you, visit our “Maryland’s Best Playgrounds” directory!
North County Playground Hop
(15–20 minutes between parks)
These three playgrounds are a bit far apart but they’re all well worth the drive. We started at Downs Park in Pasadena, where the playground entertained the kids for a short while, but we spent more time treasure hunting on the beach and picnicking on the lawn and checking out the raptor cage. Friends joined us at Kinder Farm, where the kids had a great time romping on the luxuriously large playground and visiting the farm’s goats, geese, pigs and sheep. Finally we headed out to the airport loop’s Friendship Park, where the girls played on the relatively new play structure that had a climbing wall, slides and log-hopping. The kids covered their ears every time a plane roared overhead, but they laughed and liked each take off anyway.
8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena
The playground here is nice, with a native plant garden for butterflies in the center of two large structures. There’s not much shade, but the structures include several slides, climbing obstacles and a wide area around them to run. We also spent time along the beach and went along a few trails, one of which led to a raptor cage holding a great horned owl and red-tailed hawk.
Park Pros: Close to the Parking lot and amphitheater (great for concert nights); beach access (no swimming)
Park Cons: Parking is $6, year-long passes cost $30 and also work at Quiet Waters, Kinder Farm and Fort Smallwood.
Kinder Farm Park
1001 Kinder Farm Park Road, Millersville
The playground is awesome. It’s got several different tiers of play areas with slides down to lower levels, a large shaded structure, swings, a rope climbing wall, and shaded benches for
parents to relax. Just a few steps away from the mega playground, there’s a nice indoor bathroom, and the park’s farm animals. The park also has a 2.4-mile bike/walking trail, and disc golf.
Park Pros: Bathrooms nearby, large playground, live animals
Park Cons: Parking is $6, year-long passes cost $30 (in-county residents; $40 out of county) and also work at Quiet Waters, Downs and Fort Smallwood.
1911 Dorsey Road, Glen Burnie
If you or your kids like planes, this is the spot. Just off Dorsey Road on the BWI Airport loop, this tiny park got a new play structure a few years ago and it’s in great shape, with a nice climbing wall, slides, logs to hop across and a nice shady spot for parents to sit. Depending on flight patterns, planes will either be taking off or landing regularly, which is loud and a little scary for the kids at first. The park is also a jumping off point for the airport’s biking trails, so the large parking lot can get full pretty quickly.
Park Pros: Airplanes! Nice, rubber ground covering, close to Route 97.
Park Cons: The only bathrooms are port-a-potties.
Lake Waterford Park
830 Pasadena Rd, Pasadena
With brand-new interactive playground equipment, a lake for duck-watching, tennis courts, basketball courts, and bike trails, it’s a great park.
Annapolis Area Playground Hop
(5 minutes between parks)
Annapolis is rife with excellent neighborhood beach parks, city parks and the county’s lovely Quiet Waters park. Early this summer the girls and I attempted a playground crawl to three in one afternoon, first to PAL park near Bay Ridge, then to Quiet Waters and on to the Newman Street Playground in downtown Annapolis. I had planned the excursion with the intention of stopping for ice cream downtown after playing at Newman Street, but we were derailed from our quest by having too much fun at Quiet Waters and needing to be at an appointment before we could finish, and landed at the Newman Street playground the next week after the Memorial Day parade. Not surprisingly, the playground was packed that day with dozens of families, but it was a fun stop nonetheless.
1025 Bay Ridge Rd, Annapolis
If your kids play sports in Annapolis you probably been to the PAL Park fields, and likely needed to wrestle a toddler or two away from the enticing new playground on the south side of the park. The newly renovated space has swings, lots to climb and hang from, a triple tandem slide, and fun crawl-in structures that resemble an old-school shape sorter and a 1970s spinning egg-pod chair.
Park Pros: Great small playground, small trail in the woods nearby, tennis courts and only crowded during sports practices or games.
Park Cons: Bathrooms not always open, not a lot else to do there.
Quiet Waters Park
600 Quiet Waters Park Rd, Annapolis
This Anne Arundel County Park has miles of wooded trails, beachcombing spots, a dog park, picnic pavilions, canoe and kayak rentals, and several playgrounds scattered throughout the park. Its biggest playground has two swingsets and two play structures—one for tiny tots and a giant set for the bigger kids. Both have soft rubber flooring underneath.
Park Pros: Lots of shade, trails lead to other small playgrounds, picnic spots, plenty of parking
Park Cons: Port-a-potties only by the playground (indoor bathrooms at the Visitor Center), parking is $6, year-long passes cost $30 (in-county residents; $40 out of county) and also work at Downs, Kinder Farm and Fort Smallwood parks.
Newman Street Playground
199 Green St. Annapolis
If you’re in downtown Annapolis and need a play break for the kids, the Newman/Green street playground is it. It’s directly across the street from the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, has lots of shade for the parents, and plenty of climbing opportunities. Big kid/little kid swings are situated close enough to the slides so that parents can push one kid while watching another on the slides. For toddlers there is an enclosed smaller playground next to the elementary school.
Park Pros: Great spot to play in downtown Annapolis, ending the day with lunch or ice cream.
Park Cons: No bathroom on site, public bathrooms are in Market House or Harbormaster’s office. The playground’s mulch will result in kids getting stuff stuck in their shoes repeatedly.
Chester Ave., Eastport
This tiny park tucked into Eastport on the corner of Chester and Third streets has a new pirate ship play structure, swings, a few small smaller pieces for toddlers and a basketball court. Great place to stop along a walk through Eastport or a stop before lunch at Davis’ Pub. No bathrooms.