Surfaces: rubber, sand, rubberized wood chips.
This is a tough one to rate, especially in the ‘location’ category. Location, as explained on the criteria page, is a combination of the park’s internal traits (landscaping, shade, etc.) and the surrounding area.
The playground at Allan Gardens, considered on its own, is quite lovely; thoughtfully landscaped, surrounded by big trees, and with the glass palace of the Allan Gardens Conservatory as the backdrop. It’s fenced, sightlines to all equipment are good…it’s a well-designed play space.
But it’s a rough neighbourhood. When we went, the equipment was pretty new, but already marked up with graffiti. The Sherbourne side of the park is frequented by people who…probably wouldn’t be your first babysitting choice. I’ve biked past more than and seen people openly smoking crack mid-afternoon. Having said that, it definitely didn’t feel ‘dangerous’ when we were there. There might be people around who are down on their luck, but it’s not as if a kid is going to be summoned into a creepy van or anything. If you live in a city, you’ve got to accept the fact that it takes all types.
And of course, the huge extra to this playground is the Allan Gardens Conservatory. My kids, aged 3 and 1 when we went, loved wandering the dense indoor jungle, watching the fish and the turtles, daring themselves to touch the cacti. They spent the same amount of time in the Conservatory as they did in the playground. And if you’re visiting on a chilly day (as we did) it’s nice that you can pop inside and get tropically warm for a while.
There are also bathrooms in the conservatory, but I didn’t include them as a feature of the playground, since they’re not within emergency running distance.
This is a solid playground with good equipment, and it's right next door to an under-appreciated Toronto attraction. A good bet.