This week we visited Ponderosa Park in Scotch Plains, NJ. I’ve wanted to bring G to a local sprayground since the summer began, and this was certainly a great week to try it. Temperatures were in the mid 90s, the sun was shining, and we were off to experience another great NJ playground.
I’ve heard through the mom grapevine Ponderosa Park is the place to be, and now I can see why. Ponderosa Park is set on approximately 20 acres of former farmland. It is clean, picturesque, and full of entertainment. It’s a great place for a quick playground visit or a whole day outdoor experience.
As we were winding down the park’s entranceway lined with trees and a wooden farm fence, I could feel G getting excited in the backseat. Her little feet were kicking against her car seat as she took in the view. Hearing us mention the words park, water, and swings, she could hardly contain herself. Plus, she was in her bathing suit, and lathered in sunscreen so my little water bug knew something good was coming.
The park did not disappoint. The playscape was farm-themed and the area was situated on a large circular soft rubber surface. There were six major areas to the playground: the big kids play area equipped with a rock-climbing wall, the toddler-friendly play area-low to the ground and also handicapped accessible, the swings-also handicapped accessible, the monkey bars, a rope climbing monument, and of course, in the center of it all, the spray area.
We arrived mid-afternoon and it was clear Ponderosa Park was the cool kids place to be. It was bustling with excited children running back and forth through the water, swinging, climbing, and squealing with delight. While the kids played, parents were picnicking on the lawn, sunbathing, and one group was setting up for a birthday party. A sprayground birthday! Now that sounds fun! Some parents even had their bathing suits on. As they kept a watchful eye on their kids in the water, they caught some rays and enjoyed the cool mist of the sprayground.
I unleashed G and she immediately ran to the spray area. The fountains go up and down and pop up in different areas with varying water pressure. She had a blast chasing the water and sticking her head over each fountain. I admit, I laughed when she would peer down the little white drain wondering where the water went, and then it would pop up right in her face. I stayed close by with her towel thinking she might want to wipe her face, but she could care less. I was glad I had her wear her water shoes. Although the playground surface was soft rubber and not concrete, the areas outside the water circle were extremely hot.
G tired herself out running back and forth from the playground to the spray area and back again. The spray area is controlled by a sensor so as long as there is motion near it, the water is there to play in. I especially liked that the park was very toddler friendly with many things to play with right at her height. She enjoyed sticking her face in the animal cut outs and playing with the wheels and knobs on the bottom portion of the play areas.
One drawback, was that the entire circular play area is out in the open sun. There is no shade and it was hot. Since her legs were bare in her bathing suit the slides and some of the other “hot” parts of the playground were off limits, but she didn’t mind. There was still plenty to do. I’ll have to visit on a cooler day so she can experience the other play areas.
Also, on another day, I think I’ll pack lunch for a picnic. The shaded picnic area is next to the playground and there is a bathroom nearby as well. It’s definitely a great place to spend the day with friends or a playgroup.
What a beautiful and entertaining park! We will definitely be back to visit throughout the year. I’d especially like to visit in the fall when the leaves are changing color. The park would make a great spot for family photos.
What are your favorite spots to entertain the kids and beat the summer heat? What toddler-friendly playground should I visit next?
First time at a sprayground?
Kids need: bathing suit, water diaper, sun lotion, towel
Optional: water shoes, water toys, pants to slip over bathing suit in case the nearby playground equipment is hot, a dry set of clothes for the ride home