The new playground at Skyway Park in the South Seattle area. Credit: Natasha Dillinger
It’s a well-known fact among my friends that I take my kids to the playground largely so I can enjoy five minutes of peace (notice that I did not add “and quiet”) while my energetic children climb, slide and swing to their hearts’ content. Except when I don’t.
Every once in a while, there’s a park that fires up my inner child and I join in on their fun. On our recent visit to test-drive the new South Seattle–area playground at Skyway Park, I found it to be such a one of those places.
A surprisingly engaging park
Hidden in a lowland behind apartment complexes and unveiled without much fanfare, you might not expect this park to be such a crowd-pleaser. The playground footprint is large, but the equipment is fairly limited. I actually think that’s part of its success.
My kids had plenty of room to dart between their favorite play structures, and the simplicity of the design means there are completely clear sightlines for caregivers supervising multiple children.
My almost-7-year-old daughter loved the climbing structure, which has ropes that are just far enough apart to be challenging. I made my way up to join her for a clear view across the park — I’d forgotten how fun it is to be queen of the mountain!
We had the lucky opportunity to bring Grandpa along on this trip. My active dad is grandparent-age, but on the inside he’s 10 years old. He loves nothing better than a good playground visit with his grandkids.
Following his lead, we bounced between riding the bucking bronco (I mean, spring rider), flipping over the trapeze (also known as somersault bars) and making ourselves dizzy on the spinner bowls. We practically had a winter carnival going!
The playground remained pretty deserted for a good chunk of our stay. Having the equipment to ourselves was fun, but the best part of our visit was when another family showed up and stacked themselves on the bucket swing. The other kids’ peals of laughter were contagious as their dad propelled them high in the sky — my 3-year-old ran over to the belt swings and begged us to push him just to be part of the action. Playgrounds are so much more fun when they’re shared!
Active community space
In addition to our fun new friends, we saw a handful of neighbors walking their dogs along the newly paved pathways near the playground. A mini turf soccer arena sits just north of the playground with a softball field on the opposite side, so you might want to bring a ball along in case you want to extend the fun for the day.
We didn’t visit the south end of the park due to some landscaping maintenance going on, but the renovation project plans included new basketball hoops and hockey goals.
The park’s wetland location can create drainage issues and there are no covered spaces that we saw, so it’s worth packing rain gear for puddle stomping if you visit on a rainy day.
Something to keep in mind: The King County Parks project page for Skyway Park has at least six mentions of words like “safety” and “security.” While I kept my “mom sense” on just in case, our visit in the middle of the day never felt unsafe and I wouldn’t hesitate to return. I’ve heard from friends that it may feel less welcoming after dark.
Our hour-long visit on a frosty day flew by more quickly than I expected. The adults finally had to call it quits to go in search of hot beverages, but my hardy Pacific Northwest kids could have stayed longer and are ready to return.
If you go …
Parking: There is a large parking lot adjacent to the playground in addition to easy walk-in access from the surrounding neighborhood.
Facilities: A water fountain with a bottle-refilling station sits conveniently next to the playground. There are two porta-potties nearby, but the parks team has ordered two Portland Loos (a small-footprint standalone restroom with a grate) for delivery in late 2023.
Snack time: Pick up a sweet doughnut treat at Moon Village Bakery (most well-known for its bread subscriptions). If you need a hot drink, drive through local favorite Nevzat’s Espresso. Owned and operated since 1995 by Nevzat Cankaya (who immigrated from coffee-loving Turkey), it will hit the spot!
Nearby: Want to extend the fun? Skyway Park is a mere five-minute drive from marvelous Kubota Garden and recently renovated Lakeridge Playground. You’re also within five miles in either direction of updated Lakewood Playground and the fab newer playground Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. Playground marathon, here we come!