Updated: May 14
Surfaces: sand, grass, concrete.
Equipment by Little Tikes.
This is the quintessential "hidden gem" playground; if you’re not looking for Hideaway Park, you won’t find it.
Tucked away in the alleyways of north Leslieville, this one gets by on charm alone. It’s like that weird guy in your group of friends who isn’t particularly good looking, or funny, or pleasant, but he’s really good at magic tricks so everyone likes him anyway.
The climber here is old and decidedly mediocre, and there’s a weird concrete surface that is a bit like a post-apocalyptic basketball half-court…but it doesn’t matter. It’s beautifully shaded, the shared toys abound, and the surrounding houses back onto it, which is unlike most parks in the city.
It feels like a secret. You get the sense that you’re part of some neighbourhood commune, where the residents have torn down all the fences in their backyards to create a kids’ utopia that’s half-Neverland, half-Lord of the Flies.
The full park is L-shaped, with the upper part of the L being an off-leash area for neighbourhood dogs. My daughter spent a good part of her first year obsessed with dogs, so she would often stand by the fence and marvel at these four-legged creatures who drooled as much as she did, but with more teeth.
The last time I visited, there was a porta-potty tucked away in one corner. Not sure if this is permanent, so I couldn’t count it as an official washroom, but it was, without doubt, the best-smelling porta-potty I have ever used. It smelled minty and wonderful, and I almost preferred it to the smell of the rest of the park.
There is a wading pool structure, but on our visit (in the middle of the summer) a sign said that it was closed due to “inclement weather.” I had to shield my eyes from the blazing sun to read the sign, so I don’t know whose definition of “inclement weather” we are using here. Update 2019: The wading pool is back up and running.
I love this playground, and my kids do too. I love it so much that I hate to have to rate it lower than a 90, but I have to be honest about the equipment. Hideaway is best for the under-5 set, but it’s a wonderful, peaceful oasis, and easily worth your time.