The new blue playground at Meadowdale Playfields. Credit: Natasha Dillinger
Parents, we talk a big game about the importance of inclusivity and cooperation, but how often do we get to show our kids the spectacular results of those virtues?
Here’s the example you need: The cities of Lynnwood and Edmonds, along with the Edmonds School District, worked together to renovate the 1990s-era playground at Meadowdale Playfields. The fantastic, accessible new play area officially opened earlier this month.
We went to check it out and were impressed by lots and lots of inclusive features, which will benefit all playground users.
Batting a thousand on accessibility
You’ll spot this playground’s primary accessible feature right from the parking lot — cushy poured rubber surfacing. It matches the soothing blue color scheme of the play equipment as well as provides a safe surface for mobility devices or toddling legs.
Our first stop was Meadowdale’s new bank of swings, featuring swings of many types! Recline in an accessible swing, sway along with your baby in a friendship swing, push your toddler in a bucket swing, or let the big kids practice pumping on the two belt swings.
That extra-springy surfacing does its duty here, providing a soft landing in case of tumbles from the swings. We noticed one empty swing space, for what I’m guessing is a soon-to-come basket swing. Let’s just say that I spent a lot of time pushing at the swings, because my 4-year-old needed to test them all out, obviously.
On the opposite side of the playground, we took a spin on the inclusive whirl. Featuring a zero-barrier entry and bench seat, this baby really gets going. Make sure you hold on tight! Next, we headed for the main play structure.
Connected play structure for all
Unpopular opinion: I prefer play structures that aren’t segregated by age or ability. Who wants to feel like they’re relegated to the “baby” structure? This playground features one central structure for all, with some natural delineation for different age groups.
On the main blue play structure, we found platforms at various levels, connected by different types of walkways and climbing elements. The highest platform is accessible by skipping the lower platforms, if desired, and climbing straight to the top. Descend on various slides, including a short squiggle slide and roller slide. Blue wobble steps on the periphery tested our balance.
Our weekday morning visit was hopping with toddler playdates, and we noticed this playground definitely has a higher-than-average ratio of little-kid versus big-kid features. Older children will likely appreciate the obstacle course that challenges upper body strength with different types of monkey bars, but I could see my 7-year-old descending into boredom more quickly than her younger brother.
Kids can create a whole concert just with the musical sensory elements positioned at ground level — my son particularly loved the percussion section inspired by African shekere instruments.
When your concert ends and you’re ready for more active play, head back up the ramp and turn left for shorter tot-friendly slides; stronger climbers can tackle more challenging ladders to the tall slide.
If you come with multiple kids, cheer for the clear sightlines! You can let older siblings experience some independence by scooting along the nearby paved paths or dribbling a basketball on the adjacent court, while easily keeping an eye on them.
Facilities in left field
A small duck pond sits invitingly close to the playground. It didn’t look too deep, but it is worth watching runners to make sure they don’t take an unintentional dip in the murky water.
We took a detour on our way to a bathroom break to watch dragonflies and butterflies flit above the aquatic plants. This is also where you’ll find some shade on a sunny day since the playground doesn’t have nearby trees or shade structures.
A tip for playground visitors with young children: Make sure you don’t wait too long before initiating a pit stop. You’ll have a relatively long trek toward the baseball diamond to find the restrooms and water fountain. While there weren’t changing tables, a long bench would do in a pinch.
On weekends, I imagine the well-maintained playfields host a flurry of soccer and baseball games, but our visit coincided with a heartwarming father-son batting practice. We opted to eat a snack while cheering them on for a bit before heading back to the car.
My son has already asked to return to the “blue playground,” so I think you can safely say that Lynnwood and Edmonds’ Meadowdale playground collaboration is an inclusive home run!
If you go …
Find it: The new playground is located at Meadowdale Playfields, also called the Meadowdale Athletic Complex. The address is 16700 66th Ave. W. in Lynnwood. Nearby, there are three schools and two other parks with “Meadowdale” in their names, so check your mapping app carefully.
Hours: Lynnwood parks are open daily, dawn to dusk.
Parking and facilities: A large parking lot located off the main road hosts plenty of cars, but may get busy for weekend games. Plan for a long walk between the playground and the restrooms and water fountain, which are located closer to the baseball diamond.
Nearby fun: Just 10 minutes away, take a hike in Meadowdale Beach Park. This gulch trail has it all: old-growth forest, a babbling stream and a tunnel that leads to a wide-open beach. (Save a little energy for the hike back up the trail.)