Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Thorpe Park (Flagstaff, Arizona)

For those of us unable to afford (or not wanting to spend the time driving to) a summer trip to San Diego, Flagstaff is the next best thing for Valley residents.  At an elevation of well over a mile, it's usually a good 25 to 30 degrees cooler than the Phoenix area, and it's only a 2-hour drive from central Phoenix.  At the intersection of Interstates 40 and 17, and as the gateway to the Grand Canyon (not to mention the old Route 66 running right through it), it also gets a fair amount of out-of-state travelers' traffic.

The best playground in town is Thorpe Park.  It's just west of downtown (which is about a 5-minute drive north of I-40) and has a wide variety of play structures for a wide variety of ages.  There's a sizeable older-kids bulbous play structure, with a smaller, slightly-less bulbous play structure for the younger kids a couple hundred feet away (both in sand or wood chips, I forget which).  There are also separate bouncy/springy metal animal sit-upons, as well as a much older metal jungle gym in the shape of a fire truck.  So it's got a fair amount of play structures, not to mention a decent amount of grassy area.

If there's any distinguishing feature of the park, it's a bank of about 10 swings that sits on the western edge of the play area.  The play area gently slopes down to the eastern edge where the play structures are, so that when you're swinging high, it gives you a bit of a feeling of swinging over downtown Flagstaff.  It's a great swing area.

It's been a couple years since we've gone to the playground, so I don't have any decent pictures, but you can view some pictures here.  In addition to the play structures and swings, it's surrounded by pines on the western side and there are some places to hike nearby if your family is looking for some more back-to-nature play.

This is a nice little park, and if your kids need some playground time, either because Phoenix is too darn hot or because they've been in the car for 6 hours, Thorpe Park will be a nice diversion.


What: Thorpe Park Playground
Where: 191 N. Thorpe Rd. / Flagstaff, AZ (map)
Parking: Parking lot and street parking.  Not sure about public transportation.
Amenities: Restrooms, some shade from the pine trees, but not as shady as you might like from intense high-altitude sun.  Downtown Flagstaff is maybe a half-mile to a mile away.
Bottom Line: Best playground in Flagstaff.

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