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Hendon Park

Surface: rubber.

I went to Hendon Park thinking it might get a rating of 90+ and qualify as a Dad’s Pick. A satellite view and a Google image search reveal that this place has many of the things that make a park worth visiting:

  • Trees. Much of the green space is shaded by multiple mature trees, including some beautiful willows that are just begging to be picnicked beneath.

  • Options. Bring a tennis racket for the four public courts, or a ball and glove for the two baseball diamonds, or a soccer ball for the small field, or a bike to take along the Finch Hydro Corridor.

  • Bathrooms. Yes, bathrooms.

  • Convenience. Flanked by a massive parking lot on one side, street parking on the other, and Finch subway station just down the street.

  • Character. I can’t tell whether the grand-looking gates at the entrance are legit old or just faux-old, but they make it seem like you’re stepping into the garden of an old estate.

With all those things going for it I feel a bit stingy not rating it higher than an 84, but there are a couple of small yet frustrating downsides that relate directly to the playground itself, and the playground is, in the end, most of what I’m here to evaluate.

The highlight of the play area has to be the splash pad. Surrounded by the aforementioned trees and with plenty of ways to get soaked, it’s a great place for your kid to cool off this summer. It’s also one of the few splash pads I can think of that has two sections; one for big kids and one clearly designed for much smaller kids, set off to one side and away from the biggest and most intimidating sprayers.

The dry playground equipment is just north of the splash pad, built in a large circular area with a rubberized floor…and here’s where the problems start for me. Despite having a wealth of trees, none of those trees come close to shading the playground. Apart from the obvious downside, the hot surface also makes discarded gum super gooey; something that I discovered the hard way not once but twice on our visit.

The circular area also feels just a bit too large for the amount of equipment in it, which gives the illusion of the playground being just a bit sparse. There’s definitely fun to be had: Apollo climbers are always good, and Landscape Structures’ four-seater teeter totters (which they adorably call the “We Saw”) are great too. But relative to the space, it feels like there should be more than four swings, more than one spinner, maybe a larger climber.

It’s also beginning to show its age. A spinning element on the monkey bars squeaks so loudly you’re likely to turn heads and get annoyed looks if you try to use it, and the grass verge around the rubber circle has gotten so sandy that visitors are starting to use it as a de facto sandbox.

Ultimately, none of these things should stop you from visiting Hendon Park. It’s a very nice spot and the splash pad alone makes it a good summer destination.

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