The impressive Neptun XXL climbing pyramid, the centerpiece of Sunset Neighborhood Park's new playground. Credit: Kate Missine
“Wow!” my 5-year-old son exclaimed when we rounded a corner on a suburban street in Renton. “It’s amazing!”
I could see why he was excited. Towering in front of us, in the middle of the brand-new playground at Sunset Neighborhood Park, stood a 30-foot-high pyramid-shaped climbing structure. We had come to explore this new play area, and right from the outset, it was looking phenomenal.
Berliner Neptun XXL
The giant pyramid my son spotted is the terrifically named Neptun XXL. Made by the play equipment company Berliner, there are just four of these in the United States — and only this one in the Pacific Northwest. To my son, as he ran gleefully towards the playground eager to begin his ascent to the top of the pyramid, it just looked like a squealing-good time.
Completed in late January, Sunset Neighborhood Park's new play area is an awesome addition to the Eastside playground circuit. The revamped park serves as a catalyst for the revitalization of Renton’s ethnically and economically diverse Sunset neighborhood.
The park, a functional community gathering space, replaces the former Sunset Terrace housing project site. Anchored by the Renton Highlands library branch and newly constructed residences, the park features 3.2 acres of walkways, open lawns, rain gardens and an entry plaza with pergolas. But the star of the show is, of course, the awesome playground.
Innovative play structures
The main play structure consists of the giant pyramid with a slide, connected by a suspended bridge to two climbing towers. The two towers reach 19 feet and 25 feet in height, and they're linked by a rope tunnel.
The climbers are huge, with a base that takes a good few minutes to walk around, and aren’t for the faint of heart. My part-monkey youngest child was definitely in his element, though even he hesitated at one point, asking for my help at the rope bridge. If you subscribe to the benefits of risky play, this is your place.
If anyone in your crew is timid or anxious when it comes to heights, they may not love it. That said, as long as kids feel comfortable, parents can rest easy: The structures are safely constructed, with the tallest sections of the towers enclosed in plexiglass for extra peace of mind.
The adjacent toddler section consists of a tot-friendly Kompani play structure along with two bucket swings and see-saws. This space will keep younger siblings occupied, but it’s really the older kiddos who get all the fun here — provided they love climbing.
For the grown-ups
Grown-ups can also get in on the action while youngsters play, with an outdoor adult fitness area set with unusual-looking equipment that I couldn’t quite figure out how to use. There is also seating galore, with benches, a covered picnic area, and a plaza with futuristic shaded tables, as well as restrooms onsite.
Right at the center of the entrance path to the park sits a colorful art installation made up of multicolored glass "wings." Designed by a local artist, the wings pay homage to Renton’s aviation history.
Time your visit
I can see this park being a popular weekend destination, but on our Monday morning visit, it wasn’t busy at all. With only a few younger kids around, my son and his friend had the big-kid area to themselves most of the time we were there.
We stayed and played for close to 90 minutes. For neighborhood and Eastside-area kids, this playground is a gem. And for climbers and risk-takers in your crew, it's definitely worth a trip from farther afield!
Want double the playtime? Cart your crew over to the expansive new playground at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, just a short drive away.
If you go...
Open hours: The park is open daily, dawn to dusk. Keep in mind that restrooms in Renton parks close by 5:30 p.m.
Restrooms: New (and sparkling-clean!) restroom facilities are onsite.
Snack tips: There are some great multicultural food options for grabbing a post-play bite in the area. Try the Taqueria Los Potrillos #5 food truck for tacos or Renton Deli for delicious banh mi sandwiches. (There's also a Subway if your eaters are less than adventurous.)
More great playgrounds: In addition to the huge new playground at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, just a five-minute drive away, fun new playgrounds are opening up around the sound. Check these out: