When I hear about a new playground in Renton, I expect great things. This is, after all, the city that gave us showstopper playgrounds at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and Sunset Neighborhood Park. Renton nailed it with those two recent park revamps.
Cascade Park’s new playground isn’t on the same scale as Gene Coulon or Sunset Neighborhood; it’s a smaller neighborhood park, tucked in a quiet residential area filled with ramblers and split-levels.
Quiet neighborhood park
It's so quiet, in fact, that during our visit on a recent beautiful Saturday afternoon, aside from hearing an occasional dog bark, we had the place to ourselves.
When we pulled up, I wasn’t even sure Cascade Park was actually open. Upon closer inspection, it turned out the orange net fence surrounding the park was just protecting the growing grass. The colorful new playground is indeed open. It was just completed last month and landscaping is still in the works.
Fresh new playground
The playground was so new we could still smell the fresh wood chips. A lot of new playgrounds we see these days are installed with artificial turf or rubber surfacing to be wheelchair-friendly. (Side benefit, you don’t end up with splinters poking into your sandals.) It was a little disappointing to see that Cascade Park went with the less-accessible, cheaper surfacing option: wood chips.
Like many other playgrounds, the equipment here features two play forts: one designed for tots ages 2–5, and a bigger one for kids ages 5–12. Unlike many other playgrounds, however, this one isn’t done in the muted green and brown colors meant to resemble "natural" materials. (Plastic rocks and woodsy texture? You’re not fooling anyone.)
Cascade's new playground equipment in super fun bright colors made it easy to spot — and caused my kids to utter “Ooooh!” when they first saw it.
Giant purple people eater (just kidding)
The standout feature of this playground is a giant grooved purple slide, wide enough for at least three kids to slide down together, side by side by side. I will admit that when I tried out the slide, I was nervous. It was unsettling not to have the typical side rails to hold onto. After a few trial runs, my kids loved it.
No playground is complete without swings, and here there are four: two belt swings, one accessible swing and a bucket swing for babies. There’s also a personal-size spinner.
We appreciated that there are different levels of trickiness built into the fort structure, suited to different levels of agility and daring. There are plastic steppers, ladders, monkey bars with metal rungs and a big net climber. Some rungs go straight up and down, others curve and twist for extra thrills.
The hairiest part of the play fort is climbing up a shaky rope ladder, then threading yourself through a blue metal ring to reach the next ladder.
There weren’t any picnic tables or benches in place yet; hopefully such adult comforts will be installed in the next phase. The area next to the playground is walled off with chain-link fencing, and the final part of the project is scheduled for early fall.
Cascade Park's grounds stretch nearly 11 acres behind the playground, with gravel trails and tons of grass to run around on.
We kept our visit short because there are no restrooms at the park, and no nearby amenities where you might sneak in to use the restroom. There is just one parking spot in front of the park, though park-goers will find plenty of street parking in front of houses on the block.
Cascade Park isn’t a park you’re going to stumble into; you have to know what you’re looking for to find it. Blockbuster parks in Renton like Gene Coulon do get crowded and the parking lots fill up on weekends.
If you’re looking for a quieter, smaller and totally fun experience, try out Cascade Park.
If you go ...
Open hours: Renton parks are open sunrise to sunset.
Parking: There is one dedicated parking spot by the front gate. Visitors will find plenty of street parking in the neighborhood.
More new playgrounds to add to your circuit: