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Hillcrest Community School

Equipment by Henderson.

Surface: wood chips.

There aren’t many castle-themed playgrounds in Toronto, but it’s fitting that this one is a 10-minute walk from Casa Loma, Toronto’s famous “real” castle.

Hillcrest Community School borders Bathurst, and I’d driven by many times without noticing this wooden masterpiece. Equipped with multiple slides, climbing nets, and sliding poles, the castle makes a great setting for tag or hide-and-seek. Given the number of wooden slats that have clearly been replaced over the years, it looks like the school is committed to keeping this beauty up and running for the foreseeable future.

Another nod to the local cityscape is a wooden structure that looks like either a streetcar or a subway; I’m going to say it’s a streetcar because the TTC’s Hillcrest complex, where some of the city’s streetcars go to sleep, is just around the corner. It’s not much of a play structure – more of a spot to sit and have a snack – but you’ve got to appreciate the effort.

The school grounds aren’t a spacious as some others, but there’s a bit of open area to run around, and some spots to sit while your kids race around the castle slaying dragons. Oh, and across the street is Craque de Crème, a coffee shop with treats that are just about worth the trip on their own.

This is a great spot to visit on a sunny weekend, especially in combination with the Wells Hill Park just up the street, since that playground has the swings and water play options that you can’t find at most school playgrounds.

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