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Woodbine Park

Equipment by Elephant Play.

Surfaces: sand, woodchips.

Woodbine Park is built on the site of a former horse racing track, which stood on the site from 1874 to 1993. Some of the original racing grounds became a neighbourhood of townhouses that look like they’re trying just a bit too hard to look “beachy,” while the rest was turned into Woodbine Park.

The playground is perfectly average, but the park itself is pretty impressive, and perhaps a bit underrated. This might be because of its location: more popular family destinations are very close by (Woodbine Beach and Kew Gardens), and despite being close-ish to two popular Toronto neighbourhoods, Leslieville and the Beaches, it manages to feel like it isn’t part of either one.

But anyway, now that you know about it, you can take your family there for a pleasant summer afternoon.

The equipment is a bit old, but still good enough. The spinner, made by Quebec company Elephant Play, is a rare find in Toronto playgrounds. The climbing rock, small climbing structure, and swings are just enough to be satisfactory, and the splash pad features a water-vomiting frog that surprised several unsuspecting parents during our visit with a sudden powerful burst of water. There’s also a weird tunnel that looks like it’s supposed to look like a caterpillar, but has the head of a child, which

But if child/caterpillar hybrids creep you out, the rest of the park is certainly worth exploring: walking paths cut through lightly treed areas, and a small pond, almost a miniature version of Grenadier pond out in High Park, contains a fountain that shoots water a good 50 feet into the air.

The Beaches Skate Park is on the other side of Coxwell, a good long walk from the playground itself, so it’s hard to think of them as really being part of the same park. But if your kid works up a sweat scooting at Toronto’s biggest skatepark, the splash pad can be a good way to cool off.

There isn’t much evidence left of the race track that used to be here; an off-track betting building off Queen is (I think) scheduled to be turned into a live performance venue, and the street that borders the park to the east is named after the famous Canadian racehorse Northern Dancer. If and when the playground ever gets rejuvenated, it would be fun to see some horse-themed play structures here.

Anything to replace caterpillar boy.

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