Surfaces: woodchips, sand.
The other day I had the rare opportunity to spend an afternoon with my second-born. Just the two of us.
I had only been partly aware of how much we generally defer to her older brother; by virtue of birth order and personality, he tends to be the one to make suggestions as to where we should go and what we should do. So she was pretty excited, in that wonderful 3-year-old way, when she got to pick what we would do with a sunny Saturday morning.
Her request: the playground with the paintings.
After much bewilderment and many follow-up questions, I realized she was talking about the Felstead Avenue playground.
It was the perfect choice for a morning without her older brother, because Felstead is one of the few playgrounds I know of that caters to smaller kids. There’s a lot here for kids who are in that 3-to-4-year-old window where they need a challenge but still readily succumb to gravity.
Felstead features a rope pyramid that’s just the right size; small swings; a digging area with a small water element, and a cool spider-like rope climber that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else.
We also found a little path of stones that wound its way around a tree, and made for a good “I’m gonna catch you” game of the type that 3-year-olds can’t quite get enough of. It was pretty, it was laid-back, and it was perfect.
And of course: the paintings.
Felstead is bordered on its eastern edge by a laneway lined with garage doors, all of which are painted with murals in a variety of styles. Butterflies, stars, Winnie the Pooh…it’s like an outdoor art gallery for toddlers. The washroom facility (closed for winter) also features a big “Felstead” tag on its side, written in a decidedly Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air style.
I’m tempted to label this a “hidden gem” – I’ve never seen it very busy, and it’s close to Monarch Park, which is probably a more popular destination despite Monarch’s sub-par playground. But in the end, it didn’t feel quite hidden enough, or good enough, and in all honesty nobody will likely travel very far to visit Felstead.
But if you’ve got a budding pre-school climber, or if you need some time to hang out with a neglected younger child, this is a good bet.