Smith Memorial Playground

Yesterday we finally felt spring make it’s appearance in Pennsylvania and  it was lovely.  Ryan didn’t work until late in the afternoon and we knew we wanted to spend some time outside soaking up the sun  with the kids.  Usually the Philly Zoo is out go-to spot for  warm weekends with the kids, but I convinced Ryan to  revisit one of Isaac’s old favorite spots Smith Memorial Playground.

This is an amazing and free play space, a little gem hidden away in Fairmount Park.  From their official website.

The Playhouse was designed solely as a play space for children by one of Philadelphia’s most prominent late 19th century architects, James H. Windrim. The open layout of the 16,000 square foot three story brick and masonry structure features floor to ceiling windows, porches and room upon room with a variety of play opportunities from riding tricycles to tumbling to putting on a puppet show. The Playhouse is situated on its original landscape — 6 1/2 acres of open fields, wooded terrain, and sloped hills — home to the century old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, a treasured play experience for generations of Philadelphia’s children.

The surfaces around the play equipment are soft and rubbery.  There is ample seating for  parents to supervise children. The play areas are separated by age groups, but there is something for everyone in the 2-7 age group.

In addition to standard playground equipment there is also saucer style swings, wobbly balance  beams, a huge web-like rope structure to climb on and our children’s favorite: the giant wooden slide that you slide down on a burlap sack.

We stopped briefly inside the three story playhouse.  The first two floors had some standard toys and books, a large wooden train for climbing on and some small train tables.

 The highlight of the playhouse for both of  the kids was the basement which has been turned  into a little roadway for tricycles and scooters complete with working traffic lights and parking meters.

Unlike our all time favorite The Please Touch Museum, not everything in the playhouse is shiny and new.  However, our kids didn’t seem  to mind at all.  And for a free admission (suggested donation is five dollars) you really can’t complain.

Some things to note:

– The outside bathrooms are…. rustic.  They are dark and in need of renovation. My stall didn’t really have a locking door and Hannah swung it open at one point,  which was a shock.

– Parking can be sparse, especially on a beautiful day.  You may have to park on the shoulder of the main road and walk in.

– Although there are lots of woods and trees there are no canopies or coverings for shade.  Quite a bit of the play equipment is in full on sun.  I was kicking myself for not bringing a hat and sunscreen for Tyler.

– There is a large grassy area in front of the play area to picnic but no picnic tables, trashcans, etc.

We had a great time at Smith and we will definitely be going again.  It is a must do for  families with toddlers and preschoolers in the Philly area. You can read some of our past stories HERE and make sure you bookmark our new site for future adventures!

Lisa Stephenson-Horne

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