Finding Playgrounds When You Travel

When we travel, one of our challenges is finding a great playground close to the major tourist sites. There's nothing better than 30 minutes of running to help a long museum visit go smoothy (or to run to if we need to make a quick escape). City run "Parks and Recreation" websites like this one for Santa Fe can often be helpful, but it's sometimes tough to match the street names up with the neighborhoods you will be visiting.

Swingset at Portland's Washington Park (Rose Garden Children's Park)
Swingset at Portland's Washington Park (Rose Garden Children's Park)

I thought I'd share our latest trick for finding playgrounds when we travel... Google Maps Satellite View.

Before you leave home,

  1. Search Google Maps for a sight you plan to see.
  2. Switch to satellite view, zoom in a step or two, and look for big green patches or sports fields
  3. Sometimes you can even spot a play structure by zooming in!

If you happen to have a phone that supports web browsing, you can even try this while you're on the road.

Here's an example where I search for a park near a local toy store. Zoom in a step and look north - you'll see "Bobby Morris Playfield. If you zoom in enough, you can even see where the playground is!

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  1. SMS Text Messages on January 27, 2009 at 4:06 a.m.

    Nice idea for outing and yes thanks for google maps to help us planning our outdoor vocations
    Happy Traveling

  2. Bridget Smith on January 27, 2009 at 9:28 a.m.

    What a great idea! I try to include playgrounds in my guidebooks because I think they are an essential component of family travel. Kids benefit from the spending time in a familiar setting. Parents get to relax and have a break :).

  3. Catherine Forth on January 27, 2009 at 12:36 p.m.

    No trip with kids is complete without at least one visit to a playground. This is a great tip - much better than the usual "drive around aimlessly until you find one" approach.

  4. wandermom on January 27, 2009 at 10:17 p.m.

    Relevant only for the US, but fiercely handy, don't you think?

  5. Soul TravelersIII on January 30, 2009 at 1:04 a.m.

    Cool! One of the great things about traveling the world by RV, is we ALWAYS have great playgrounds ( & usually pools) where ever we are from Paris to Prague!

    Actually, almost all of them have really nice cottages and/or motorhome rentals for very cheap, so one does not even need the RV or a tent. ;) Europeans tend to do their budget traveling this way, so a great place to meet other families from around the world ( albeit few Americans).

    We will be doing a video soon of some of the fantastic playgrounds that we have run into around the world, many of them in Europe.

    I think EVERY museum should have a playground next to it and I think the one next to the Guggenheim in Bilboa takes the cake for that category!

    Sometimes just a park will do like the one next to the Prado in Madrid where my daughter met a friend, read her new book from the museum store with her and they ran around blowing bubbles together yabbering away in Spanish!

  6. Rodrigo Mattioli on October 28, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.

    Hi all!

    I had a hard time finding playgrounds in London so I created this website:

    The idea is to have a free and super accessible platform to share places we love for our kids.

    You can use it on mobile going straight to the link

    If you know any good playground, please add it there, so it will be easier for everybody to find playgrounds in the future.

    Any feedback welcome :)