Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Ober Park Playground (Vashon Island, WA - Seattle)

I wasn't particularly expecting a fancy playground when we visited Seattle's Vashon Island.  It's semi-rural, and though there are plenty of nice cars driving off of and onto the ferry from West Seattle, it's also an island without a traffic light.  But Ober Park is a sweet little spot, definitely worth some of your time regardless of whether you're a resident or an interloper.  The park is tucked behind the library along the main north-south route that leads from the (northern) ferry terminal, just north of the main downtown (such as it is) intersection.

It's a decent assortment of new-ish climbing and play structures scattered amongst wood chips.  There's a big tire swing, a really tall slide, monkey bars that are crooked, the modern Kompan take on the spinning wheel...

There are a few swings (two big, two toddler, I think? maybe three of each), and while the two primary climbing structures still have the age division thing going on, for whatever reason it doesn't feel quite as forced as it does on other playgrounds.  There are a couple benches and walls for sitting on, bathrooms inside the library (I think), plus you're within a short walk of a small coffee/hot chocolate stand.

But the secret weapon of this playground is the little valley just north of the playground itself.  A gentle slope down into a grassy, amphitheatre-type setting surrounded by trees.  It kept our kids amused running up and down playing with other kids for a good hour, probably longer than the time they spent on the actual playground.  It's proof again that playgrounds aren't just structures, but any play space that allows for play.

I don't think Ober Park playground is reason by itself to visit Vashon Island, but as neighborhood playgrounds go, it's nearly perfect.
What: Ober Park Playground
Where: 17130 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon Island (map)
Parking: A relatively small parking lot shared with the community center and library.  We didn't have trouble finding a spot, but the lot was always more than half full.  Not sure of its public transportation accessibility, but seeing as it's next to the community center on the island's main road, I can't believe it's not bus-accessible.
Amenities: Drinks/food within walking distance.  Bathrooms inside the community center; I think there was a portajohn, too.  Also, trees.  Lots of really tall trees.
Bottom Line: This is a great little playground, definitely worth your time if you visit the Island.  (And if you live there, you're probably there weekly.)


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