For families on vacation, a playground provides a welcome break from sightseeing, a chance for little ones to burn off some energy. It can also provide a glimpse into the local culture, from the setup of the park to the ways families interact.
“The world is a truly fantastic, colorful, and thrilling place for kids to grow up,” says Monstrum designer Monique Engelund. “Playgrounds need to be equally inspiring.”
Here are the designs from San Francisco to Santiago to Sydney that live up to that challenge.
MonstroCity, St. Louis
Built from reclaimed materials—including two airplanes and a fire engine—MonstroCity is a four-story interactive sculpture and play space designed to thrill both children and adults. Feel your heart race as you climb through sky-high tunnels, dive down slides, and leap into oversize ball pits. Then head inside the adjacent City Museum to explore enchanted caves, ride in a human-size hamster wheel, and venture into the World Aquarium’s shark tunnel.
Fruit and Scent Park, Stockholm
Have a picky eater on a steady diet of chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese? Perhaps a trip to Sweden’s Fruit and Scent Park will change his or her culinary tune. This produce-themed playground just south of downtown Stockholm features a banana slide, an orange seesaw, pear huts, a watermelon jungle gym, and a pair of cherry swings, all designed by public artist Johan Ferner Ström. Now, who said you can’t play with your food?
Nishi Rokugo Park, Tokyo
Located between central Tokyo and the city of Kawasaki, Nishi Rokugo combines recycled rubber tires with traditional playground equipment (jungle gyms, steep slides). In total, more than 3,000 tires of varying sizes are used to create tunnels, bridges, towering sculptures for climbing—a giant robot and Godzilla are local favorites—and, of course, tire swings. There’s little shade, so stop by in the early morning or late afternoon for the most comfortable weather, and be sure to wear your play clothes; it’s known to get quite dusty.
Bicentennial Children’s Park, Santiago, Chile
Set atop San Cristóbal Hill, the Bicentennial Children’s playground in Metropolitan Park was built to both celebrate 200 years of Chilean independence and improve the lives of Santiago citizens. Dozens of slides are built into the slope, creating a design completely complementary of the surrounding landscape; spherical fountains offer some relief from the sun, and ample seating gives parents a place to relax. Plan to spend a summer afternoon in the park, exploring the play space’s custom jungle gym and the nearby National Zoo.
Jungle Gym, Nashville
Come “swing like a gibbon” at Jungle Gym, a 35-foot-tall tree house, cargo-net climbing area, slide, and giant snake tunnel at the Nashville Zoo. It’s the largest community-built playground in America (perhaps there’s something to that Volunteer State nickname), and a perfect stopover between the African Savannah exhibit—teeming with giraffes, elephants, river hogs—and the Jungle Loop, where leopards, lemurs, and antelopes run wild.
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