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The Most Summer Friendly Playgrounds in Maryland

A Summer Playground Crawl

by Katrina Kessler

Here are 10 of the most summer friendly playgrounds in Maryland. Summertime is a prime season to be outside and playing. But as the temps rise, sometimes it’s almost too hot to play outside, especially in areas with little-to-no shade or metal playground equipment.

No worries, with this list of the Top 10 Summer Playgrounds, we’ve got you (and the playgrounds) covered! Check out our favorite spots to play in the shade or water to keep you cool all summer long.

Shaded Playgrounds

Parks with Water Features

Playgrounds with Shaded Spots

Kiwanis Wallace Park

3300 Norberts Way Ellicott City MD 21043

Shade: Yes fully covered
Water Features: No
Crowds: Low
Parking: Designated Parking lot
Bathroom: Yes
Quick Eats: Mimi’s Kabob, Sonic, White Oak Tavern, Soft Stuff Ice-Cream


This is one of the best playgrounds to go to if you have a toddler and want shade. This playground is fenced and smaller so it is a really great option for caregivers who want to be able to keep an eye on their child no matter where they stand. Although the playground is small, it is fully covered with a large sunshade. There are also shaded picnic tables under trees next to the playground. There are slides, a “shop” and a dinosaur to sit on! There are no swings at this location, though.

This playground is not crowded on the weekdays but there are sports fields next to it so it could possibly be more crowded on the weekends.

Tire Park

1101 Hilton Avenue, Catonsville

Shade: Yes (lots of trees)
Water Features: NoCrowds: Low crowds in the week, higher crowds on weekends. There are also some days where camps or schools may visit this park.
Parking: Yes, a designated lot
Bathrooms: Yes
Quick Eats: McDonalds (10 mins away)

The Catonsville Tire Park is a large area of the Patapsco State Park which contains 2 playgrounds as well as handfuls of structures made from recycled tires. Imagination can run wild with the open play of the tire structures. The spacious layout of the tire park allows for plenty of families to enjoy at once.

There is a sensory nature trail close to the playground with interactive activities such as instruments to play and plants to smell.

During the summer the trees are in bloom and provide a lot of natural shade which is why this is a summer favorite!

High Ridge

10100 Superior Avenue, Laurel

Shade: Yes, very large shade cover
Water Features: No
Crowds: Usually low
Parking: Yes, large designated lot
Bathroom: Yes
Quick Eats: Taqueria Los Primos


High Ridge had a very large shade cover added to their playground in recent years. It covers almost the whole structure so it is perfect for a summer visit. This playground also is relatively quiet with nearby trails and fields to explore.

The actual playground structure is easily accessible for a toddler or young child. There are many slides, climbing opportunities and bridges to cross. There is also a shaded pavilion and bathroom nearby.

Cabin John

7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda

Shade: Yes (lots of tree)
Water Features: No
Crowds: Medium-High (but can spread out)
Parking: Yes, big parking lot
Bathroom: Yes
Quick Eats: Shake Shack, California Tortilla

Cabin John is a MUST see playground if you want to be surrounded by trees and have a ton of options. It is a popular spot but there are 7 different playgrounds sections so it is extremely easy to spread out and have space. There are also trails to explore nearby. Plus a toddler friendly train to ride nearby as well!

This playground has a lot of shade in the summer when the trees are fully bloomed. It’s a great day trip spot on a hot sunny day because not only are there trees to keep cool but there are just so many different options and structures. Bright colored slides will attract the children, especially the 3 slides next to each other, which is optimal for some slide racing. It will keep children of all ages entertained for hours!

Granville Gude Park

8300 Mulberry Street, Laurel

Shade: Yes (lots of tree)
Water Features: No
Crowds: Low
Parking: Not super clear. You can park at a restaurant parking lot at own risk or street parking and walk down to the playground.
Bathroom: Yes
Quick Eats: Misson BBQ, Nando’s Peri-Peri

Major shade alert! This adorable newly renovated playground is plopped in the middle of the woods so it’s the perfect spot for a sunny afternoon play date. There are also pretty lake views which can all be seen from the playground. There is a paved trail to walk around the lake too. Apparently there are boats to rent on the lake as well!

The playground itself has a lot of exciting climbing opportunities for older toddlers but also fun animal structures like a turtle and frog to play on. There are benches and picnic benches to sit at along with a bathroom in a building right next to the playground.

The only con of this cool playground is the parking. It is unclear the best spot to park but there are restaurant parking lots that don’t seem to be used as much during weekday mornings. Otherwise it may be best to park on the street and walk down the hill!

Playgrounds with Water Features

Bailey Park near Colorburst Park Splash Pad

Bailey Park Address:
10275 Wincopin Circle, Columbia

Colorburst Splash Pad Address:
6100 Merriweather Drive, Columbia

Shade: No (but there are shaded lounge chairs by the splash pad)
Water Features: Yes at Color Burst, splash pad
Crowds: Medium (go earlier or later in day to avoid crowds)
Parking: For Bailey Park- park in designated lot next to Whole Foods. For Colorburst Splash Pad, park in the lot on Dove Sail Lane.
Bathroom: Yes
Eats Nearby: The Charmery (ice-cream shop). Also located in Merriweather Distract is Busboys and Poets, Dok Kaho Tahi and Clove & Cardamom.

Bailey Park is a new park at Lake Kittamaqundi (or the lakefront as the locals call it). This park is geared toward older toddlers with a huge rope-climbing sphere to navigate and play on. The playground is bright with lots of challenging opportunities to climb. There is also an extremely steep hill to climb up to get to a large bright green slide to zip down. Although this playground is not shaded, there is a slight breeze from the lake that can be felt in the right moment. A walk around the lake would be fun as well but keep in mind the lake does not have a barrier and if you have a small child who likes to run, you may want to bring a stroller.

If your family is still feeling hot then it’s time to head over to the new Colorburst Park Splash Pad in Merriweather Distract which is a 15-20 minute walk or a 5 minute drive from Bailey Park. This splash pad is great for little ones as it has over a dozen water fountains on the ground where children can take their own space and pace as they play rather than only being able to go under one large structure that pours water over their heads. This seems to be a good option for those with younger tots who need the more relaxed atmosphere vs a water park.

The splash pad definitely has traffic but it is usually not overly crowded during the off hours. The splash pad is open 10am-10pm daily so it will probably be the least crowded first thing it opens or later in the afternoon when others go back for dinner. Don’t forget to stop at The Charmery for some ice-cream on your way out!

Glenn Dale Splash Pad

11901 Glenn Dale Blvd, Glenn Dale

Shade: Lounge Chairs + picnic tables under umbrellas and shaded areas
Water Features: Water Sensory Area
Crowds: High on weekends, low on weekdays
Parking: Big Parking lot
Bathroom: Yes
Eats Nearby: Milk & Honey Café, McDonalds

For families looking for major water opportunities- look no further! Although this water park cost money, it is well worth it if you have a child who really enjoys water. There are multiple areas to explore when visiting. First there is a pool with a mushroom waterfall and shallow beach area. Next there is a regular splash pad with fountains in the ground squirting water up for children to run over. The last and coolest area is the toddler water park with a wading area, splash fountains, a boat to climb through and slides! Children of all ages can find water fun somewhere at Glenn Dale.

Prices are free for 2 and under, $6/child and $7/adult. Don’t forget it is closed on Mondays!

Millard Park

7872 Cooper Drive, Sykesville MD 21784

Shade: Partially Shaded
Water Features: Yes, splash pad
Crowds: Medium (busier on weekends)
Parking: Small parking lot. May need to park down the street and walk up to the park.
Bathroom: Yes
Quick Eats: Firehouse Creamy and E W Beck’s Pubs on Sykesville’s Main Street

Last Fall 2021 Millard Park officially added a splash pad to their park. This splash pad has multiple fountains shooting water from the ground for the children to run on. It also has various standing structures with a waterfall feature where children can run under to stay cool.

What makes this playground worth the trip is the fact that there are 3 other playgrounds all within walking distance of the splash pad. One of the playgrounds is fairly new with a zip line, a challenging rope climbing structure and a steep hill and slide for children to run up and down.

If you have a younger child they may prefer the older but classic playgrounds up the hill. One of the playgrounds is geared for smaller toddlers and in the shape of a fish, which makes it fun for all. There are also multiple swings behind the older playgrounds.

If your child is still searching for more to do, there is a bridge and very short nature trail to be explored as well. The options are endless plus you are right by Sykesville Main Street with tons of shops to visit!

Walker Mill Regional Park

8840 Walker Mill Road Capitol Heights MD 20747

Shade: Not much (but shaded picnic tables)
Water Features: Misters
Crowds: High
Parking: Big Parking lot
Bathroom: Yes
Eats Nearby: Chick Fil A and Sonic

Walker Mill Regional Park is an amazing playground filled with endless climbing, jumping and exploring opportunities for kids of all ages. It has a woodland theme with animal structures throughout the park (even on your way up to the playground). There is a scavenger hunt of animals to look for during the visit. One of the coolest features are the life-sized ants surrounding a ginormous slide which children love to climb on as they wait for their turn to slide.

The second coolest feature is the water misters in the ground. If you press the misting pads, water will squirt out. This is a great option to cool down in the summer and keep the children entertained.

This playground can get busy because it is top notch so as always would recommend to visit early in the day or late afternoon when people are heading back home.

Chesapeake Sensory Plaza at Rockfield Park

501 E Churchville Road Bel Air MD 21014

Shade: Yes!
Water Features: Water Sensory Area
Crowds: High
Parking: Big Parking lot
Bathroom: Yes
Eats Nearby: Marghertia Pizza of Bel Air, Maria’s Carry Out, Birds Nest BBQ, Greek
Village Restaurant and Lounge

This is a must visit spot for the summer! This new 5,000 square foot water play space was built in 2020. It has so many opportunities for children to cool off in the water while also learning about the Chesapeake Bay by reading different educational signs throughout the park. There are sensory plaza pumps, which can be pumped or pushed by the children to start the water flow. Children can also stop the water and learn how the systems work!

And the best part is there is a large fully fenced fun playground right next to this water spot. The playground is made up of various large structures of wood and has castle towers amongst the tire tunnels, slides, bridges and climbing ropes. There is also a section for the younger tots with a sand box!

Want to find more crazy cool playgrounds? Check out our Playground Directory!

Beaches off the Beaten Path

Let us know if you have any playground suggestions for us to check out in Maryland via our social media or email [email protected].

Written by Katrina Kessler 
Katrina is a Maryland mom of two toddlers and has become an avid playground
explorer since the playgrounds re-opened during the pandemic. You can follow
along with her visits at @marylandkiddos. She enjoys reading, music and walks
outdoors. Recently she has combined her experience as a parent with her
master’s degree in psychology to launch a new page @connectingwithkatrina,
which aims to connect parents and children to nature and their emotional health
through virtual and in-person guides and classes.

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