Kids at play at the new Wallingford Playfield play area. Credit; JiaYing Grygiel
The new Wallingford Playfield play area was supposed to be done in the spring, but a couple of delays pushed the opening to July, perfectly timed for summer. The old, well-loved wooden play structure is gone — it was riddled with insects — but it's been replaced by a fantastic new fort.
The $400,000 new play area is located in the northeast corner of the Wallingford Playfield, at Wallingford Avenue North and North 43rd Street. Adjacent to the playground are two tennis courts, a wading pool and a quarter-mile gravel track circling a grassy field. Bring your Frisbee or soccer ball and pack your swim stuff!
Neighborhood gathering spot
The renovated playground is a highly welcome addition to the neighborhood. We visited on the official opening day, and the play structure was surrounded by a ring of parked bikes, strollers and dogs. Families gathered around boxes of doughnuts at the picnic tables for an easy get-together with friends.
I’ve done my time at playgrounds, and I have to say, the design of this one is pretty brilliant. There are two structures, a smaller-scale one for tots ages 2–5, and one designed for more adventurous and independent kids, ages 5–12.
The little kids I observed mostly ignored their designated structure and toddled over to the way-more-fun bigger one. The centerpiece is a two-story fort, with five slides, a fireman’s pole, a suspension bridge, plus lots of ladders and bubble windows.
I liked the surprises tucked inside, such as monkey bars under the bridge. There’s a little sandpit next to some musical equipment pieces: bells and three drums. My kids’ favorite was the jungle gym/merry-go-around, where they could climb a rope web while spinning around.
This playground caters to a broad audience, from super-cautious to daredevils. Choose your own route up the fort, with varying degrees of difficulty: rock-climbing grips, rope ladder or staircase. I noticed a built-in landing spot three-quarters of the way up a metal ladder, and I appreciated that little safety detail. The groundcover is part spongy rubber, part wood chips (so fresh they still had that a nice woodsy aroma). Thank you, playground designers, from this mama of accident-prone kids.
I’m a big chicken, but I really feel like some of the new playgrounds are too dangerous. This one is a happy medium of fun stuff for kids, while still accessible to a wider range of abilities.
The one component that set off my mom radar is a curved rope ladder that reaches the highest point on the fort. There was a similar feature at the new Yesler Terrace Park Playground that was installed for a hot second before it was boarded up and ultimately removed. Perhaps a little too risky?
Because kids need to go when they need to go, there’s your usual, kinda gross park restroom next to the playground, with flush toilets and changing tables.
About that wading pool: look for a sloped entry and several stepping stones. Through Aug. 16, it’s open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon–7 p.m., on sunny days when the temperatures hit 70 degrees and up. Call the wading pool hotline (206-684-7796, updated daily) to check if the wading pool will be open before you head over.
If your kids are garbage truck enthusiasts, the North Transfer Station (1350 N. 34th Street) is a must. It’s even got a play area inside where kids can watch the big trucks at work from the window. There's also a small play structure just to the north.
Wallingford Playfield is just two blocks south of the main drag through Wallingford, North 45th Street, where you’ll find tons of kid-friendly eats: Seattle Pops, Ezell’s, Molly Moon’s, Grand Central Bakery, Dick’s and more. But our neighborhood favorite is Rocking Wok (4301 Interlake Ave. N.), a Taiwanese eatery where the food is delish.
If you go...
Open hours: Daily, 4 a.m.–11:30 p.m.
More new playgrounds! Put these on your route: