The perfect playground may not exist, but the right combination of size, accessibility, and variety in play structures can get a playground pretty close. These six playgrounds each have their own highlights to offer anyone looking for some outdoor excitement.
1. Anderson Playground
Schenley Park, Panther Hollow Road and Boulevard of the Allies, Oakland
Also known as the “dinosaur playground,” Anderson Playground has two dinosaur-shaped structures, along with more traditionally shaped playground castles. The dinosaurs — a stegosaurus and a brontosaurus — offer two slides, one for younger children and one for older children. The central castle has a hollowed-out space inside perfect for secret kids’ meetings, and the other castle structure has crawl tunnels and a small climbing net.
The swing sets also have a variety of sizes, with three for babies, one for toddlers, and four for larger children. The merry-go-round and twirly bars also give kids the chance to experiment with physics as they play, and the climbing semicircle dome lets kids climb up for a view of surrounding Schenley Park. The playground also has a covered picnic area and plenty of benches and uncovered picnic tables; plus, street parking is available along the cul-de-sac that wraps around the playground. The park is also accessible via the 58, 65, and 93 bus lines.
Reservoir Drive, Highland Park
As the only wooden playground on the list, Super Playground offers a sprawling set of spired structures that makes one feel like they’re truly running through a castle. The winding paths inside the wooden structures also add a sense of mystery and excitement for those who explore them. Between the tire bridge, monkey bars, and balancing platforms, there are many different ways to play, with the wooden structure branching to connect each part of the playground, except for the swing sets.
There are swings for children and adults of all sizes, with a dug-out section below the tallest swings allowing for maximum swinging potential along with a view of Highland Park and the Allegheny River through the trees. The park has a covered picnic area, as well as outdoor fitness equipment next to the playground for those who need a quick warm-up before attempting the monkey bars. Street parking is available, and the playground is also accessible from the 71B bus line.
1803 Cliff St., Hill District
The winding, downhill pathway leading into the playground lets the anticipation build as you descend, and it also offers abundant seating for one of the playground’s best features: the view. The playground overlooks the Allegheny River, with Downtown and the Smithfield Street Bridge visible from the free telescopes that dot the playground, and there’s plenty of room to sit and chat while enjoying the cityscape.
The castle structure has a climbing net and two slides, one of which leads down to a lower section of the playground. There are also horizontal monkey bars and twisting climbing structures, as well as platforms for a balancing challenge, and quotes from the famed Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson line the lower wall of the playground. The half-court and uncovered picnic tables also add some variety for potential playground activities. Street parking is available, and the playground is also accessible via the 81 and 83 bus lines.
2005 Beechwood Blvd., Frick Park, Squirrel Hill
Squirrel Hill’s iconic Blue Slide Playground has play structures for kids of all ages, from a toddler-sized castle with scaled down slides to a larger castle with climbing entrances and the eponymous twisting blue slide. The other blue slides are a little more unique, stretching from a higher part of the playground into the main area, giving people the chance to race down the slides on cardboard sleds. Tunnels that people can walk through cut through the playground, giving the space a larger, more connected feeling.
The playground also has a variety in swingset sizes, and walking further up the hill gets you to a large climbing pyramid that overlooks the rest of the park and out across the surrounding residential Squirrel Hill neighborhood. There is a covered picnic area at the entrance of the playground, and just beyond the playground, outdoor workout equipment along Riverview Trail. Street parking is available, and the park is also accessible via the 65 and 74 bus lines.
5612 Solway St., Wightman Park, Squirrel Hill
After four years of development, Wightman Park reopened in October 2020 with new, accessible play structures. The spacious playground has a variety of structures for play potential, from multiple climbing nets to hollow dodecagons with holes on each side that people can climb through. The largest castle structure has many climbing entrances, along with a long, twisting slide and covered crawling tunnel. There are also two smaller castle structures with their own slides.
The most fun slide is arguably the long slide that leads into the park, which is climbable via stairs and a ramp. The playground’s accessibility extends to its swingsets, too, with a wheelchair-accessible swing along with swings for people of all ages. A covered picnic area is nearby, and benches around the perimeter of the play area offer ample seating and a view of sculptures by local artists Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata. The playground has street parking and is available via the 67, 69, and 74 bus lines.
6. Forbes and Braddock Playground
Forbes Avenue and S. Braddock Avenue, Frick Park, Regent Square
Sitting on the other end of Frick Park from Blue Slide Park, Forbes and Braddock Playground has two sets of structures, one smaller and one larger, welcoming kids of all ages to play. Both have several slides and climbing entrances, and the area with the smaller structure has two sitting pods for those who want a break from playing. The merry-go-round and balancing bridge also give people alternative options for play.
The playground has the most swing sets of any on this list, with six larger swings, five baby swings, and one toddler swing. For those who want a meditative break from playing, there are spiraling labyrinth walking paths near the entrance of the playground, and the covered picnic area and benches scattered throughout the playground offer plenty of seating. Street parking is available, along with a small parking lot past the tennis courts on South Braddock Avenue, and the playground is also accessible via the 61A and 61B bus lines.
Other great Pittsburgh parks to check out:Nelson Mandela Peace Park Playground, N. Evaline Street, between Broad Street and Alhambra Way, Garfield
Dan Cohen Playground, Fifth Avenue and Beechwood Boulevard, Shadyside
Kennard Playground, Kirkpatrick Street and Reed Street, Terrace Village
Chadwick Playground, 1501 Oberlin St., Lincoln-Lemington
Magee Playground, Greenfield Avenue and Ronald Street, Greenfield