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Trace Manes Park

Equipment by Landscape Structures.

Surfaces: rubber, sand.

Hidden in the heart of Leaside, Trace Manes Park has the best playground in East York by a pretty wide margin.

Given that it’s not a huge space, it’s impressive just how much equipment they’ve managed to fit here: shoe-horned between the tennis courts and the library, the playground includes a sandbox, splash pad, swings, climbers for littles and bigs alike, and plenty of shaded seating.

The centrepiece is a huge climber by Landscape Structures which they've dramatically named the Alpha Tower Turbo Twister – a four-level giant with twin slides from the third level and a tube slide from the fourth. It’s the second tower of this type that we’ve found in Toronto, the other being at Stanley Greene Park up near Downsview.

But incredibly, there’s so much other great equipment here – some of which are rarely found anywhere else in the city – that my kids barely spent any time in the tower. They played in the concrete tunnel that sneaks underneath a set of stairs. They played on the face-to-face swing. They played with the built-in digging equipment in the sandbox. They ran around on the hilly rubber surfacing, trying to avoid me catching them before they could reach a designated “safe” colour. There was plenty to do before busting out our picnic lunch.

And we haven’t even mentioned the splash pad yet.

The splash pad isn’t huge or anything (the playground’s small footprint wouldn’t allow it) but again, the use of space is ingenious. The water drains along both sides of the splash pad, creating little channels that the kids played in; much more interesting than a standard drain. Even more fun is the “waterfall” element: two overhangs jutting from the roof of the library, pouring water down below, with benches underneath so that you can feel like you’re at Niagara as you peer through the water to supervise your children.

The surrounding neighbourhood isn’t exactly flush with other things to do – the park is a bit of an island in the quiet post-war residential ocean that is Leaside – but with the library right there, good parking, lots of seating, and a bit of green space on the other side of the tennis courts…this is definitely a gold-star playground.

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