Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: Rio Vista Community Park (Peoria, AZ)

Ah, the suburbs.  So very far away.  But also blessed with space and (at least in years past) sufficient tax revenue to meet the desires of their often family-focused residents for play areas.  So as we were planning to head out to Peoria for an unrelated reason recently, we decided to stop by Rio Vista Community Park.

The park is clearly one of Peoria's most important (if not the most important) parks.  It's got a community center, ball fields, a splash pad, ramadas aplenty, and a river running through it all.  Really.

But let's talk about the playground itself.  There's a lot of different types of play equipment, as you can see from the pictures here.  The big primary-colored (and age-segregated) play structures.  The (comparatively) odd Kompan structure next to it.  A small rock-climbing wall next to it.  Swings (four for the big kids, four for the small).  A couple big corkscrew slides.  Stonehenge.  Swinging steering wheels.  A metal rocketship (not pictured).

In other words, there are lots of different play structures.  None that were particularly new to me, but many that I hadn't seen all collected in one play area.

Seriously, who decides that they need Stonehenge (not quite 18 inches in height, but not 18 feet tall, either) right next to the purple balancing mushrooms?  Those spinning wheels would be kinda cool for older kids; the spiral slide was more spirally than most -- you could get multiple static electricity shocks coming down that one.

Now, we were there on an overcast day during the week after K-12 schools had started, so it was a lot less crowded (and perhaps more pleasant) than it would have been otherwise. One of the big drawbacks to the playground is that while the structures are (partially) shaded, there are few trees and places for the parents to sit.  The large number of ramadas would fill that purpose if it's empty, but on spring weekend afternoons, I bet the place is absolutely packed.

In the end, the playground is a really nice (if a bit oddball) collection of relatively new equipment, and if we lived nearby, I bet we'd visit quite a bit.  If you're passing through Phoenix (say, on your way to LA from Northern Arizona), it's definitely worth the stop if you need a playground break.  It's a suburban playground, and I mean that in the best sense of the word.

What: Rio Vista Community Park
Where: 8866-A W. Thunderbird Rd / Peoria, AZ 85345 (map)
Parking: Parking lots adjacent to playgrounds, free.  Park and community center likely served by bus.
Amenities: Well, the community center looks nice from the outside.  And there's a bathroom.  But if you're thinking of, you know, food... bring your own.
Bottom Line: Lots of playground equipment, a fair amount of shade, and lots of picnic tables.  On an uncrowded day, it's fabulous.  Crowded day?  Hmm....

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