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New Salt Air Vista Park Playground: Super Summer Fun Stop

Swings, slides, shade and nearby popsicles

Published on: May 19, 2023

A young boy approaches the play equipment climbing tower at new Salt Air Vista Park playground in Kent, near Seattle
Natasha Dillinger

My ideal summer park includes a thrill-worthy playground feature, swings for DIY air conditioning and some shade for those blinding sunny days we sometimes see in the forecast. As we learned on a recent visit, the freshly unveiled playground at Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park checks all of those boxes — and read on for a bonus warm-weather feature nearby!

A neighborhood park with pizzazz

Hidden in a residential neighborhood just a few blocks from busy Pacific Highway South, you’d never know this petite park existed if you weren’t looking for it. Perhaps that’s why we had the playground to ourselves on a sunny weekday and were able to snag one of the limited street parking spots.

A boy descends a long metal tube slide at newly updated Salt Air Vista Park in Kent, Wash., near Seattle
Riding the zippy metal tube slide. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

The gleaming giant slide caught my 4-year-old’s attention right away. Standing at nearly 20 feet tall, it reminded me of the death-defying structure at Seattle Center’s Artists at Play playground.

After a few exciting runs of his own, my son begged me to take a turn on the slide. Spoiler alert: It’s best used by kids — I tried to rack up cool-mom points, but I gave myself a friction burn on the tunnel portion of the metal slide.

A boy climbs a cargo net to the top of the climber at Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park new playground
Climbing the cargo net to the top. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Safely relegated to “Mom, watch this” duty while nursing my battle wound, I got a running narration of the climber’s cool features from my son. Kompan’s Ocean Giants structure includes access points for all ages — a stairway for smaller children, a semicircular rope climber for more experienced playground-goers and parallel bars for the most coordinated (a group that does not include me).

A young boy plays on the climbing structure tower at the new playground at Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park near Seattle
Navigating the climbing structure. Credit; Natasha Dillinger

Once climbers reach the middle level, they can check out the action on the ground through clear-paneled “rooms” decorated with colorful decals of aquatic-themed visuals, such as an octopus and submarine. Peekaboo just got a lot more fun!

The one drawback of this setup? It gets hot. Between the metal slide and the clear panels’ greenhouse effect, the sun really heats up the climber. As much as it (literally) pains me to say this — parents, you may want to test out the structure’s temperature before sending kids up to play on a hot day.

Looking out from the windows of the ocean themed climbing tower at Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park which has new playground equipment
Looking out the window from Salt Air Vista’s climbing structure. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

Keep on the (shady) side

After a quick stop at the sensory panels near the park’s entrance, my son made a beeline for the swing set on the shady side of the park. Residents emphatically requested this popular playground feature in a 2020 city survey that solicited community input about the park’s renovation.

Swinging in the shade at Salt Air Vista Park playground in Kent, near Seattle
Swinging in the shade. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

A bank of three swings — two belt swings and a toddler swing — sits in the shade of a large conifer tree, making it a perfect place to cool off after a slide marathon.

A picnic-ready grassy lawn spreads out right behind the swings, while a concrete path leads to a small forested nature play area at the southern edge of the clearing.

The grassy picnic area at Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park playground
Credit: Natasha Dillinger

We didn’t test out the trails on our visit, but a few paths meander through the park towards its south-edge boundary at South 248th Street.

One of the challenges in renovating the park was improving storm drainage. The city installed a swale — a lengthy rock-lined channel — to convey water down a concrete ramp towards the woods for better absorption. Listen, I know this thing has a practical purpose, but my son will tell you that it’s obviously meant for rolling rocks down the hill to test gravity. STEM learning in process!

The shady nature seating area in the woods at Salt Air Vista Park in Kent where there’s a fun new playground for kids
Escape to the woods near the playground. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

So, what’s the catch?

Perfection is hard to attain in a playground, even one with this many fun features. We were disheartened to find a significant amount of litter throughout the mulch under the play structure. Definitely do not let babies eat this stuff. And it wasn’t just run-of-the-mill snack wrappers; it was the type and quantity of trash that meant I had to ask my preschooler to sit at the edge of the playground while I spent the first bit of our visit filling a plastic bag from the back of the car.

After hearing similar reports from other park-goers, I contacted the city and they’re looking into it. Trash and feeling unsafe in the park also came up on the 2020 community survey, so resolving issues on a tight park budget may turn into a long-term project. In the meantime, I’d recommend parents and caregivers take a quick tour before setting kids loose on the playground.

A boy part way up the climbing tower at Kent's Salt Air Vista playground peers out the plexiglass windows decorated with sea creatures
Credit: Natasha Dillinger


The other limiting factor? A lack of restrooms. You’ll find a water station at the park entrance, but nowhere but the woods to go after your kid chugs a bottleful of water on a hot day.

Here’s where the proximity to Pacific Highway South actually comes in handy — and takes the surprise delicious turn I promised! A quarter-mile down the road, you’ll find a popsicle paradise at La Michoacana - Tu Favorita. Offering a dizzying array of Mexican paletas, ice cream novelties, aguas frescas and antojitos (snacks), it was so hard to resist ordering one of everything! This spot also has a restroom for customers, so you have an extra excuse to visit.

What’s better than a sunny playground outing to a fun new spot? Up-leveling it with popsicles, of course! Salt Air Vista Park has the potential to welcome lots of neighbors and occasional visitors to play, especially if the city and community can keep it clean.

If you go …

Find it: Salt Air Vista Park is located at 24615 26th Place S. in Kent.

Open Hours: Kent parks are open daily, dawn to dusk.

Parking: Free street parking is available.

Facilities: A water-bottle-filling station is available, but there are no restrooms.

Nearby food: Make sure you add the sweet treats at La Michoacana - Tu Favorita to your itinerary. There’s also a Dick’s Drive-In location down the road if you need lunch or dinner.

More playground fun: String together multiple Kent parks for a full day of action!

  • Colorful West Fenwick Park is a bona fide destination playground. You don’t want to miss it.
  • Brand-new space-themed Kherson Park is small but utterly unique and fascinating.
  • Hillside Chestnut Ridge offers impressive valley views and interesting, climbable public art near the newer playground.

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