A trip to the park is one of my favorite things. Starting a family, I thought about how much time I wanted to spend at the park letting my children play. Having my first child, all we needed was a slide and a swing. As I added child number two and then a third, I learned that the park was very different for each of them.
The youngest of my family is a fearless little boy that knows the sky is not the limit to his abilities. Next up is the middle child that suffers from allergies, followed by the oldest that no longer enjoys a swing and the slide. I have found that identifying the purpose of the park day is my key to success.
Their different personalities as well as ages created different desires of the park. Learning these differences has been very interesting to me while at the same time taught me to see a trip to the park should meet the need I am looking to fill.
My family has both “Park Days” and “Park Breaks.” A park day is a scheduled and planned trip to the park. However, a park break is a short stop along a road trip, or an add on activity to our day to burn energy and or time.
For a park break, pretty much any area can be a park. If the spot has play equipment or simple swings, the smiles will be a little bigger for my little ones. On the flip side, if we are planning to spend a few hours or more at the park, I will need to make sure I address all three personalities as well as the typical weather and food planning.
The location of the park also plays into my planning. For park breaks, I choose to pick a park close to my location, either home or destination. Typically if we have a shopping day, a short park break would be nearby the shopping location. If I cannot find a park nearby, I would plan for a stop at one of the parks near our house. At times a surprise stop at the park after school is just the ticket to having a great evening!
A park day can be for bike riding, a family picnic, sports training, etc. Having a specific purpose requires finding a park that will meet that particular need.
During the summer months, I like to choose parks with splash pad areas. In the past, parks with splash pads were only on our Park Day lists, which included the Navarre splash pad and park. Carpenter’s Park in Milton recently opened a new splash pad area closer to our home, and we are now able to plan shorter park visits on the fly when the energy level gets a little too high at home.
My family loves to ride bikes, but due to medical needs, long trail rides for the whole family are not possible. The Bagdad Mill Site Park is an excellent alternative with the winding path for walking and biking. Picnic tables and grills allow for an extended day to enjoy the river sights as the park sits alongside the river with a small overlook area. This park is also a great option when we are planning to have the dogs join us.
The parks I mentioned are just a few of the fantastic parks open to the public. Finding your favorite parks may be just as much fun as setting the regular park trips.
Be sure to check out the Pensacola Mom Collective Guide to Local Parks and Playgrounds to find a park for the day or just a break!
More information regarding local parks can also be found at the following links:
- Gulf Breeze: https://cityofgulfbreeze.us/parks-and-recreation-department
- Pensacola: https://www.cityofpensacola.com/132/Parks-Recreation
- Escambia County: https://myescambia.com/our-services/parks-and-recreation
- Milton: https://www.miltonfl.org/195/City-Parks
- Santa Rosa County: https://www.santarosa.fl.gov/201/Parks-and-Recreation-Services
- Florida State Parks: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails
What are your favorite local parks and playgrounds?