Contributing post by Justine Burgess
If you’re in Orange County (or nearby), we have a great spot for kids to be…well…kids!
For the mere price of $3 per child (adults are free), your little guys and gals (and you, if you like) can captain a raft, build a fort, navigate a rope bridge, slide down a hill into a mud puddle, and just generally have some rambunctious fun while getting covered in the evidence of it. What place, you ask? Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach, located behind the library.
The park is geared toward kids ages 5- 12, and my little guy is 5 (and one-half, he’ll be sure to tell you), so he was more than ready for a dirty day. When we arrived, we parked in the library lot on the side nearest to the youth shelter- the playground is immediately up the hill and to the left. A huge handmade sign directed us, and thank goodness- it’s well hidden so it would be easy to overlook.
Upon entrance, a counselor greeted us, collected our $3, and gave some very specific instructions that must be followed in the park, such as:
- No running. Absolutely none.
- Everyone (including parents) must be wearing closed-toed tennis shoes
- No dropping or throwing things from tree houses. Kids will get a warning and a time out.
- Rafters must stand on a raft. No swimming in the shallow pond allowed.
There were a few other rules as well (for a list, see the Adventure Playground website), and the counselors are very observant- any rule breaking is immediately noticed and they get on a bullhorn to give out warnings. I was pretty impressed by how well they watched what the kids were doing. Parents need to be observant as well, and if your kiddos are under 8, you’ll need to help them out in the wood yard and building areas. They get a chance to practice using tools (hammering nails, sawing wood) and have a lot of dirty fun, but it’s the kind of fun where close supervision is ideal.
The first thing my little dude tried out was rafting. The rafts look like something I imagine Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer might have had. Great fun once you get the hang of it. He rafted right over to the rope bridge, hopped on, and made his way across- I’m fairly certain that the three times he fell in the water (that time) were totally intentional. His next conquest was the “mudslide”. It’s essentially a sheet of plastic on a hill that leads directly into a shallow mud puddle. He was a little nervous at first, but after his initial slide, he couldn’t get enough of it. It was worth the $3 just to see the thrilled expression on his face each time he went down and hit that mud. He came out yelling “YEAH! WOO-HOO! I’M GOING AGAIN!” every single time.
We moved on to the building area for a bit- he put together a “space station” at the top of the tree house, but pretty quickly wanted to go back and do the rope bridge and the slide.
We stayed for a total of about three hours, and he loved every minute of it. If you’re up for good clean dirty fun, this is the place to be.
If you go, be sure to bring a towel and a change of clothes. There are changing rooms (they kind of resemble a homemade fort) and there is a shower, Bring light snacks or lunch and water as well, and some hand sanitizer is probably a good idea. And be prepared. Wear old clothes, because it may not be salvageable by the time you are done- but it will be worth it.
Adventure Playground is open only through August 9th, so take advantage of it now! You can head to the library beforehand for some educational time, and then head up the hill for a different kind of fun.
Hours | Monday – Saturday, 10am-4pm. Cleanup starts at 3:40pm.
Address | 7111 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach
Phone | 714 842 7442
Cost | $3 per child, adults free. CASH ONLY.
For more information, details, and rules, see the Adventure Playground city website: http://www.ci.huntington-beach.ca.us/Adventure_Playground