ZOE TSENG AND JAKE ZUCKER/SAGAMORE STAFF
Rating playgrounds is no child’s play.
We went to eight playgrounds in Brookline and rated each park, including playgrounds of most of the public schools in Brookline. From as far north as the Rose Garden playground, to as far south as Heath school’s playground, we’ve found the best park to go to.
Rose Garden: 6/10
We started at the Winthrop Square, or Minot Rose Garden playground. The charming park is not far from Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, and it features not just a playground, but also a rose garden and a grassy field.
The park was divided into two playgrounds, with one section for younger kids and another for the older ones. In between the two playgrounds there was a water feature for little kids to run through. And leading up to the playground was a large path that children could ride their bikes on.
It was clear that the Rose Garden gets a lot of use. The park was full of families enjoying the playground, with parents watching their charges closely as they played on the many structures that made up the playground.
We were most impressed by the layout of the park. Half of the space is a serene spot where you could sit down with a book, and the other half is a place for little kids to run around, adding a joyful atmosphere for those who would rather watch the play from a distance.
Lawrence School Playground: 8/10
From the Rose Garden playground, we walked to the Lawrence school. Lawrence had a wide variety of options for the park enthusiast. With basketball, tennis and four square courts, a huge and well-maintained field that included two baseball diamonds, two playgrounds, and a water sprinkler much like the Rose Garden’s, there was plenty to do.
Lawrence’s water sprinkler was being used for a very different purpose at this time of year. A family was playing the Lawrence classic Lawrence school game known as Circle Soccer, in which four people play soccer with one another, with each defending a small goal in one of the four openings in the circular sprinkler area. During recess at Lawrence, you can often find long lines of kids waiting for the chance to play Circle Soccer.
The region for older kids had a variety of structures including a structure where kids could bounce on the sides, monkey bars that spin, and a spider web structure to entice a kid’s mind if they are feeling like being a superhero.
Pierce School Playground: 7/10
The third park we visited was Pierce’s playground, which was recently renovated. Much like the other playgrounds, Pierce had a basketball court, a big field and two playgrounds for different age groups. But the most eye catching feature of the park was a big, bright yellow slide that cascaded down onto the otherwise plain field.
And of course we can’t forget the huge diamond-like spinning structure made out of ropes. This structure is perfect for kids of all ages since the ropes allow for people to climb on the “walls” while the structure is spinning, or for the less daring, to sit on the bottom.
The architecture of the spinning structure was similar to that of the rest of the park. One of them being an elaborate mesh tower for kids to climb: reminiscent of Rapunzel’s tower if you imagine hard enough. The park also had artificial diamond rocks for kids to climb.
Brookline High School Playground: 3/10
The next place we went to was Brookline High School’s park. Brookline High School had a smaller park that featured the typical setup with swings, slides and a basketball court. You could say it was a lunchbox let down. But hey, you might encounter some teenagers with free time on their hands.
Lincoln School Playground: 5/10
After Brookline High School, we went to Lincoln school’s park. Lincoln had one park that was elevated above the circular driveway, and another that was next to the driveway. The one next to the driveway had basketball courts and a huge empty pit that may have once been made up of grass. Why, you might ask? We don’t know.
The park above the paved entrance had monkey bars, slides, and other classic park structures.
Heath School Playground: 4/10
From Lincoln, we made the 30 minute trek along Route 9 to Heath school and were quite disappointed by what the park had to offer– although we may have been biased after the long walk.
Heath had two parks, one on a hill, and another next to the school. The one on the hill was quite small and made up of just one structure, while the one on the bottom had tire swings, four square courts, a gaga pit, basketball courts and a field.
Dean Park: 8/10
After Heath we walked to Jean B Waldstein, or Dean Park. Dean’s park had eight tennis courts (which are always in use despite the large number of them), basketball courts, a very large baseball field, a playground, and an elaborate water park with structures that dump water onto a splash pad.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Dean was the variety of age groups. Whereas most of the other parks were clearly geared towards little kids, Dean’s park had a large grassy field for kids and adults to play games, tennis courts that appeal to all ages, and picnic tables for those simply wanting to enjoy nature.
Runkle School Playground: 10/10
Our favorite park was Runkle, which you may be able to tell from how many photos we ended up taking. Runkle, which was renovated fairly recently, had the best structures, including a caterpillar ring like structure and a huge pyramid made out of ropes. Runkle’s park seemed to be surrounded by ropes and would probably be the best park for a game of “the floor is lava”.
As if the main park wasn’t enough, Runkle also had a smaller park for little kids that was just as adventurous as the older kid park. Some might conclude Runkle kids were spoiled. We’re not judging.
Driscoll School Playground: 6/10
Our second to last stop was Driscoll’s park. Driscoll had a long dragon, representing the school mascot, that stretched across the front fence.
Like many of the other schools, Driscoll also had tennis courts, a field, a gaga pit, basketball courts, and a younger and older kid section. The younger kid section featured a SwayFun glider and a rolling slide. The older kid section had slides, monkey bars and rings.
Coolidge Corner School Playground: 7/10
The last stop was the Coolidge Corner School’s playground, which had to be visited on a separate day since by the time we would have reviewed it on our first day the sun had set. And yes, the pictures of the Coolidge Corner School park are covered in snow while the others aren’t.
The renovation of the Coolidge Corner School made some great changes, and it also eliminated the infamous three play structures the school used to have. In a departure from the typical green color scheme that we had seen throughout Brookline, the dominant color at the Coolidge Corner School was a pleasing navy blue complemented by a lime green and an orange.
Some highlights included a tall structure for kids to climb, as well as a charming place for kids to sit on either side of a table underneath a section of one of the parts of the playground.
So, to the babysitters, parents, and errant teenagers of Brookline: we hope that we’ve helped you on your journey to find a playground that suits your needs.