Playground or Adventure Course?
We love the playgrounds in Europe. I daily have to shove all the feelings of danger that (a) being American and (b) having taken a few tort classes has instilled in me.
The Dutch way is to let kids experience some danger and if they get hurt then they learn from it. You won’t find many helicopter parents here and perhaps that is why Dutch kids are some of the happiest in the world. (Read this Huffington Post article on happy Dutch kids.)
Seriously though, these playgrounds are amazing . . . and terrifying. The kids love them though and often they are so inviting Jeff and I want to join them. We pretty much find a playground every trip but here are some of my favorite fun, and perhaps dangerous, playgrounds we’ve encountered so far.
We previously posted some video of Jeff and the kids demonstrating some new-to-us playground equipment, like a giant hamster wheel for adults. You can watch that video here.
We found this first playground at GoGo in Valkenburg. You have to take a cable car to reach the playground. Additional playground equipment includes a small castle with a bridge and slide, trampolines, bouncing horses and a spinning bowl. The orange and green in the background is a year-round tube run that requires a ticket. (Read more about our trip to Valkenburg.)
Here is a playground outside of Wuppertal, Germany where they converted an old train into a playground by attaching cargo nets to it. The kids can also climb into the engineer’s compartment and pull on rusty levers. I guess the cargo nets will catch you when you fall.
This castle playground is in Trier, Germany. The netting is made more difficult to climb by placing boards over some of the openings, forcing you to go around.
On the other side a set of wobbly monkey bars, like little trapeze bars, hangs more than six feet above the ground.
Trier was also home to this double swing. Jeff and I gave it a try and, as predicted, unless you are in perfect sync you will go all over the place. (Read more about our trip to Trier.)
The Antwerp Zoo had a hidden playground that looked like it was built for the Great Apes. This cargo net enclosed course was a big hit with the kids until they reached this platform. The platform opens to a two-foot drop into this cargo net. (Read about our trip to Antwerp.)
This playground is right here in Delft. It is one of our favorite spots to meet up with Jeff after work to head into town. This cargo net walkway is plenty wide for H to fall right through it. It is 4 feet off the ground. He loves it though, but takes it quite slowly.
Plaswijckpark is full of fun amusements including some great playgrounds. I’m highlighting this one for its incredible metal slide. Unless you use your shoes to slow down, the kids come shooting out of the slide on the far side. H thought it was amazing and even little O took a turn on Jeff’s lap laughing the whole way down. (Read about our visit to Plaswijkpark.)
This playground is one of many small play structures in our neighborhood. The kids love it.
The only way to get up is to climb the ramp or the ladder.
Fort Willem Speeltuin in Maastricht is just super cool. It reminded me of a giant tree house.
It also featured these swings that operate just like the ones you would find at an amusement park. (Read more about our trip to Maastricht.)
The Madurodam playground was amazing and ship-themed, which my boys loved. The “plank” however was suspended logs. H barely made it across on his own, at least his fall would have been into sand. (Read more about our visit to Madurodam.)
The Wolfslaar playground in Breda had a similar bridge, luckily with cargo net sides, over the canal.
Whatever my feelings, the kids do not seem to mind the challenges of European playgrounds. We’ve had a few spectacular falls, a few tears but mostly lots of laughter. These playgrounds are the perfect reason to get outside before the rain starts again.