Glenwood Children’s Park

IMG_5744Location: West of downtown at 602 Glenway Street.

City Park Website lists all amenities with a google map.


I was excited to check out Glenwood Children’s Park. I heard it was designed by landscape Jens Jensen in 1948 and is unique in the city for having some ‘natural’ play elements. He believed that urban dwellers needed nature in their lives and found creative ways to bring it to them.

Jens-Jensen-philosophy

My kids still have a classic image of playground in mind (because that is mostly what we find), so I fear they may have been disappointed by ‘just the woods’ if not for the regular playground next to it. We played there, mostly on the swings and the teeter-totter (!), before heading into the ravine. There are little foot paths down from the playground.

The park is right on the Southwest Commuter Bike Path. Otherwise you can park on the street. It is nicely tucked into a quiet neighborhood.

Glenway Childrens Park

Playground-Review-logoWhat’s to love?

Adult: I love the woods. I remember one of our early hikes, just after the youngest had learned to walk, when I realized that the word ‘hike’ was ridiculous. We were playing in the woods. Once I thought of, and helped my kids to see, the woods as a playground, we all started having way more fun. This little piece of woods has been intentionally staged to have some of the elements to inspire play: there are partially created forts and stumps carved into chairs. It’s a ravine, so there are all sorts of natural spots to climb, jump, and burrow in. I think it would be great in any season!

Three-Year-Old: She liked thinking about what animals live here and she felt proud of herself as she mastered some tough spots.

Five-Year-Old: She loved the ‘balance beam’ logs all over the place. And, she had to pee and loved that it was so easy to find a spot to tuck in and pee. I probably shouldn’t write that, since obviously we don’t want our parks reeking of pee with folks dropping their pants all the time, but honestly, kids have to pee and it often cuts a trip the park short. We’ve taught our girls to squat in the woods, so I too appreciate that they felt this park was more wild than most.

Thoughts: I’d love to see more playgrounds that serve essentially as an entry point into a more wild landscape. Too often the playground is on a groomed plot far from the edges of wild. In my experience, once you show a kid a trail, they want to follow it. So I’d love to see playgrounds push right up into meadows, wetlands, woods and forests to remind us all to stray and then play in the wild.

From Woods as Playground, an earlier article from BetweenTwoLakes.com

“I think our adult-desire for more natural play at our urban playgrounds is partly because we idealize children’s play as being innocent and pure. Maybe the purity is a freedom from adult categorizations, like the difference between hiking, playing, woods and playground. We like to hike because it’s adult play. The kids, they just want to play.”

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About Jessica Becker

I am a community outreach professional raising two daughters with my husband in an old house on an isthmus. I wake early to practice yoga, I cook dinner for my family, I bike most places I go, and I believe that happiness is a life skill. It is up to each of us to create the causes of happiness. For me, that means seeing what is going on and engaging creatively with people and places. I write about it at BetweenTwoLakes.com.

2 comments

  1. Julie

    I’m so glad to have this resource! We checked it out today, on this perfect early-spring day, and loved it. It reminds me of the woods between my parents’ and grandparents’ houses in Georgia, where we would hike through a ravine to get here.

    Helpful tip: I wasn’t sure where to park, but found my way around the park to where the play structure is. Park around where Gregory Street and Glenwood Street meet.

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