Kids explore the playgrounds around our towns


Kimberly Houghton, kimhoughton1@comcast.net | July 25. 2013 1:17PM

Avery Houghton, 8, of Bedford tests a climbing structure at the Moore Park playground in Candia. (Kimberly Houghton Photo)







After my daughters spent their school days on the same playground for several months, I took the opportunity this summer to show them all of the amazing and unique playgrounds throughout the area.

To my surprise, the modern and newer playgrounds I thought they would like the most didn’t intrigue their interests as much as the older parks with dated toy structures. It was the old-school, throwback playground equipment from another decade that seemed to thrill them the most.

We set off to find a playground with the most appeal for my 6- and 8-year-old energetic daughters. Using their own interesting method for scoring five local playgrounds, which is definitely not a scientific study by any means, they both agreed that a small, secluded park in Goffstown was by far their favorite.

The Barnard Park playground, located directly behind the town pool, is a small playground with wooden equipment. Forget about the “big toys” found in many newer, plastic-coated playground structures – these kids liked the wood.

Their reasoning for liking the Goffstown playground the best – they could reach all of the apparatus and do everything on their own without help from mommy.

“This zipline is the best one we have seen so far,” said Avery Houghton, 8, my oldest daughter.
We had seen ziplines at other parks, but this structure was lower to the ground, and she was able to reach it and get it started quickly without any assistance.

They were also big fans of a triple slide at the Goffstown playground, not necessarily because it was three connected slides, but because they loved the grooved surfaces that apparently made the ride anything but ordinary.

One of the most interesting features at the small playground was a large, curved standing seesaw structure. While this was a little intimidating for both of them because they were pretty high off the ground, I climbed on and thought it would be a blast with another daring partner.
Also a big plus to the park – the beautiful flower gardens along the trail leading back to the playground equipment.

My youngest daughter, Ella Houghton, 6, was also very excited about an even older park in Candia. When you first enter Moore Park in Candia, you immediately notice that the playground is completely enclosed with fencing, which is ideal for young toddlers and their parents.

Ella was instantly drawn to a mini merry-go-round structure that I remember vividly from playgrounds when I was growing up. Memories of my older brother whipping me around and around made me slightly nauseous just thinking about it.

This merry-go-round was her favorite feature at the park, but definitely takes some grown-up assistance to keep the equipment spinning.

Avery was super psyched about a large zipline structure, but quickly bummed after realizing she couldn’t reach the bar to get it moving. I wasn’t even tall enough to maneuver the hand bar to the start of the line to get her hanging on the equipment.

After several attempts, I was finally able to get Avery on the zipline for one ride, but only after lifting her up and pushing the hand bar simultaneously, which wasn’t an easy task.

There is a stand-alone, arch-shaped climbing apparatus that, despite its simplicity, my girls seemed to really appreciate.

Moore Park had a cozy, comfortable feel that gave off a safe vibe in part because it is located next to the police station.

As expected, Avery and Ella also liked a newer playground housed at the Arthur Donati Memorial Field in Hooksett. This playground has a certain awe appeal to it, as it is large, clean and located on a beautifully manicured lot.

“There are some things here that we’ve never seen before,” said Avery, upon first glance at the park.

Their favorite place at the playground was a wooden spaceship shuttle that had tires for stairs and a slide as an exit.

“This is just like a treehouse. I love it,” Ella shouted from the top of the structure.

They also appreciated the tire swing, which was hung lower than most tire swings, allowing them to push it back and forth on their own. It was also a light tan color as opposed to black, making it cooler to sit on in the hot sun.

The temperature was quite warm the day we visited the Hooksett playground, so many of the slides were too hot to use.

Our next stop was Circle of Fun playground in Auburn, which is also a very large park complete with a gazebo and handicapped accessible play equipment.

Although this playground had a lot of apparatus, there were two birthday parties taking place at the park when we visited, so it was a little overwhelming. This playground also has a fun mini merry-go-round feature, but my kids were more thrilled about a jungle gym dome at the corner of the park.

There was also an enclosed slide that seemed to keep their attention for quite awhile, that is until the bees started circling the playground equipment. Actually, a little girl attending one of the birthday parties was stung by a bee while we were there, which cut our visit short since neither of my kids like anything that stings.

Our last stop was a familiar park for the girls – the Ann DeNicola Memorial Playground in Bedford, located just next to the town pool. For any other children visiting this playground, they may classify it as the best park ever, as it has a lot to offer kids of all ages.

However, since this is our hometown and my children frequent the Bedford playground, it is a well-known treasure to our family already.

The silliest feature for Avery and Ella is what they call the “massaging slide,” which is a short slide that has dozens of connected rollers that spin around as you vibrate down the bumpy equipment.

There is a great toddler area at the Bedford playground, making the experience even better for families with siblings of various ages.

Ella loves the short balance beam at the park, while Avery likes the climbing wall. There is also a standing seesaw apparatus that has become a family favorite since the kids have gotten older.

Overall, they had a blast at each of the parks we visited so far this summer. Whenever your family gets into the same rut of visiting the same playground time after time, take a short drive to a park at a nearby community – you might be surprised at what hidden gems you find.
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