Date of Visit: 5/6/2010
Time of Day: 11 AM - 12:30 PM
Weather: sunny with a breeze, mid-to-high 80s
Summary of Visit: We live within walking distance of this big park, so we head there a lot on the bikes, trikes, scooter, etc. Today, Elle was really wanting a bike ride to the park, and to be honest, I was a little hesitant, because it was pretty HOT out, and also, this park is VERY hit or miss as far a playmates of Elle's age (3) during the day. But we lucked out, and there was another adorable little girl of 3 that Elle ran around with for an hour or so, and the nice breeze made the heat a non-issue.
Shaded? All of the play equipment has shades. Note--if you go at midday, the shade is only halfway effective, and only some of the equipment will be useable depending on where the shadows hit. The swings are always shaded by a big, gorgeous tree, and there are many spots throughout the park that have shaded picnic tables and benches.
Fenced? The park is not fenced, but the playground is. Note--he gate latches aren't very secure, and both kids and adults at this playground are kind of slack about checking the latch when they enter/leave. The swings are not fenced. Although the park isn't fenced, it is very large, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a spot far enough away from the bordering streets if you want to play ball or run around with the little one. Unfortunately, the playground with the loose gate latches is located a little too close to busy Lejeune Road, so again, make sure your little one doesn't sneak out of the gate and run up the sidewalk towards the traffic if someone leaves the playground gate unlatched.
Surface: The playground has two sections that have the spongy surface,and the sections are surrounded by grass. The swing area is spongy surface.
Parking: There is a gravel lot on Lejeune that accomodates about fifteen cars. Space only gets tight in early evenings during soccer practice, and occasionally on weekends if there are parties in the park. Beware parking along Barbarossa where the "no parking" signs are posted--I've seen tickets being given during soccer practice.
Swings? Yes, set apart a little from the rest of the play area outside the fenced area, but still within sight. There are four swings for "big kids" and two baby swings.
Water fountain: Yes
Bathroom Report: No. I think the closest decent bathroom is probably the Don Pan at Lejeune and US1.
Interesting Equipment:There is a slanted rock wall for younger climbers, taller rock wall for older kids. Low monkey bars for little ones. And while a tree is not "equipment", older kids will LOVE swinging on the sturdy vines that hang from the banyan trees all over the park. These are great for climbing too, especially the ones right by the playground, but watch for broken glass.
Parent Vantage Point: Lots of seating options all over--they installed new benches throughout the park recently.
Snack Attack: Bring your own. There is a well-stocked convenience store at the corner of Lejeune and US1, also a Don Pan at the same intersection.
Picnicability:Excellent. There are a few picnic tables, and plenty of grass to spread your blanket.
Grass: Lots of it.
Animal Activity: Mid-level. In the early evenings, a group does get together in one part of the park with their off-leash dogs, but they are easy enough to avoid. No poop problem that I've noticed. As far as other animals, just your everyday birds, lizards, bugs, etc.
What to pack: Snacks, wipes, water, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, sunscreen, picnic blanket, bug repellent if you go at dusk, a handheld fan mister if you go in the summertime.
Park @ Large: There are tons of trees for shade and climbing, picnic tables, new benches, a playground with separated equipment for the little ones and the older ones, sloping grassy hills for tumbling, shaded swings, shaded play areas, and soccer goals. This park is most popular in the early evenings after the sun has gone down a bit--you'll find parents who have just gotten home from work, soccer practice, and a playground full of all-ages siblings of the young soccer players. Big grassy lawns are great for new walkers and wild running toddlers. On weekends, you'll almost always find a birthday party or two, adult soccer games, and sunbathers. And then there is what I call "the sidewalk to nowhere"--it is a sidewalk that starts in the parking area on a medium-steep hill, and levels out, ending kind of in the middle of the park. It's great for practicing new ride-on equipment, or for more adventurous kids who are jonesing for some kind of incline in our largely flat locale. You'll see bikes, ripsticks, skates, scooters, big wheels, and motorized toy cars running up and down the "road to nowhere."
What I Love: Well, obviously I love the fact that it is within walking distance of my house! But aside from that, there is plenty of shaded seating, the wide open lawns are fun for playing ball, and when Elle was younger, it was really nice to have the play equipment designed for younger munchkins, with their own smaller slides and climbing ladders.
What Bugged Me: No bathrooms are kind of a pain, though since our house is close, it is not a tragedy for me (but it would be otherwise). In the mornings on weekdays, there aren't many preschool kids--it's mostly by babies and young toddlers. After lots of rain, this park gets super-buggy. I wish the latches on the gates in the playground area were a bit more secure.
* Don't park along Barbarossa where the "No Parking" signs are posted. You don't usually see parking tickets being issued in residential areas, but I have seen tickets being written during soccer practice on more than one occasion.
* If you're hitting this park in the early evening, bring mosquito repellent. Especially if we've been having daily rains for a while.
* Remember--no bathrooms!!--so plan ahead. If you need a close-by bathroom, the best bet is probably the Don Pan at US1 and Lejeune.
* If you're going at one of the previously mentioned "busy times", take a beach towel or blanket to sit on in case the benches are taken around the playground.
* Older kids will really love swinging on the vines hanging from the banyan trees, and climbing the trees too.
Corner of Lejeune Road & Barbarossa Ave.
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
photo credit: bcsilva/sxc.hu