Travel + Leisure: World’s Coolest Playgrounds

Truly innovative playgrounds are a destination all their own. These will make you wish you were a kid again. See more of the world's coolest playgrounds here:
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Fruit and Scent Park

Inside Trekantsparken (Triangle Park), Stockholm, Sweden

Have a picky eater on a steady diet of chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese? Perhaps a trip to Sweden’s Fruit and Scent Park will change his or her culinary tune. This produce-themed playground just south of downtown Stockholm features a banana slide, an orange seesaw, pear huts, a watermelon jungle gym, and a pair of cherry swings, all designed by public artist Johan Ferner Ström. Now, who said you can’t play with your food?

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Nishi Rokugo Park

1 Chome-6-1 Nishirokugō Ōta-ku, Tōkyō-to, Japan

Located between central Tokyo and the city of Kawasaki, Nishi Rokugo combines recycled rubber tires with traditional playground equipment (jungle gyms, steep slides). In total, more than 3,000 tires of varying sizes are used to create tunnels, bridges, towering sculptures for climbing—a giant robot and Godzilla are local favorites—and, of course, tire swings. There’s little shade, so stop by in the early morning or late afternoon for the most comfortable weather, and be sure to wear your play clothes; it’s known to get quite dusty.

Nashville Zoo At Grassmere

3777 Nolensville Road, Nashville, TN 37211

Come “swing like a gibbon” at Jungle Gym, a 35-foot-tall tree house, cargo-net climbing area, slide, and giant snake tunnel at the Nashville Zoo. It’s the largest community-built playground in America (perhaps there’s something to that Volunteer State nickname), and a perfect stopover between the African Savannah exhibit—teeming with giraffes, elephants, river hogs—and the Jungle Loop, where leopards, lemurs, and antelopes run wild.

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Tiong Bahru Park

Bounded by Henderson Rd, Tiong Bahru Road and Lower Delta Road, Singapore

Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine will love navigating Singapore’s Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground, where a tilted train looks like it’s headed off the rails. After steering the runaway locomotive to safety, kids can explore a mini maze and take an old-school merry-go-round for a spin. If your child prefers boats to trains, opt for nearby Sembawang Park’s Playground Docks, a battleship jungle gym set in the sand, complete with rope ladders, slanting decks, and a secret escape hatch.

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Water Playground

Wodny Plac Zabaw, Tychy, Poland

Keeping cool during the summer months in Tychy has been a little easier ever since 2011, when the Water Playground opened near the Gostynia River in southern Poland. Designed to complement the existing park landscape—and avoid cutting down as many trees as possible—this playground was built in a figure-eight shape and filled with LED-lit fountains, faucets, and splash pools, so water play can continue from dawn until dusk.

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Diana Memorial Playground

Broad Walk, London W2 4RU, UK

A fitting tribute to the “people’s princess,” the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens celebrates the innocence of childhood with a Peter Pan–inspired play scape. A wooden pirate ship serves as the memorial’s centerpiece, surrounded by mermaid fountains, tepee forts, and a sensory trail with soothing chimes. Parents will appreciate the plentiful seating, alfresco café, and well-maintained restrooms featuring changing tables.

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Hakone Open Air Museum

1121 Ninotaira, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun 250-0493, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

“Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s crocheted playscapes, which have gone viral, have organic shapes and eye-popping colors; like something out of a Dr. Seuss book,” says Playscapes blogger Paige Johnson. “They are a unique way to experience an artwork...through play.” MacAdam’s Woods of Net at the Open-Air Museum is no exception. Knit entirely by hand, the playground allows children to crawl in, swing on, and jump through the vibrant netting. The work itself is sheltered by a Lincoln Log–esque pavilion, providing visitors a break from both the outdoor elements and the more adult-oriented exhibits at the museum.

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Imagination Playground

2 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038, United States

Designed by David Rockwell, a New York–based architect who also happens to be a father, the Imagination Playground encourages its pint-size visitors to create their own adventures. The South Street Seaport space eschews traditional fixed structures like swings, slides, and monkey bars in favor of sand, water (in the summer months), found objects like wheels, ropes, and crates, and larger-than-life blue building blocks in a variety of shapes. On-site staffers help kids get creative, turning the loose parts into houses, spaceships, cars—the sky’s the limit.

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Shorebird Park Nature Center

160 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

Berkeley’s Adventure Playground doesn’t look like much. It lacks the glossy veneer found on many American play spaces, but that’s why it’s so notable. This dusty half-acre, inspired by the European adventure playgrounds that originated after World War II, encourages kids to paint, work with tools (saws, hammers, and nails), and run wild. Visitors can climb on kid-created boats, forts, and towers, hop on the zipline, or barrel roll down the hill in a piece of culvert pipe. Note that this playground is recommended for ages seven and up and requires both sturdy closed-toe shoes and adult supervision.

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Parque de Belleville

47 Rue des Couronnes, 75020 Paris, France

When designing the playground for Paris’s Belleville Park, architecture firm BASE consulted both children and adults to learn what they really wanted from the space. The result is an abstract structure that, depending on your sight line—and the strength of your imagination—resembles anything from a pirate ship to a flying carpet to a medieval fortress. Built into the slope of the landscape, the playground’s climbing wall is challenging, but its reward is a view of the Eiffel Tower and the entire park.

Last updated at Aug 13, 2016