I’ve been trying to do at least one new and fun activity per week this summer. I took the kids to the Adventure Playground (AP) in Huntington Beach. I have heard there are only a small handful of adventure playgrounds in the United States, so, I figured we had to take the time to enjoy it while it was open this summer. I also wanted to check it out for friends with small children. The AP suggests a minimum age of 5, but it isn’t a rule, so be aware of your child’s abilities and interests and go from there.
They go over the rules when you arrive. Kids are required to have an adult in the park with them, but kids under 8 are required to have an adult with them in the building area.That’s the only area adult supervision is required. So, if you have tiny kids and bigger ones under 8, you’ll need to take the littles into the building area with you.
AP shares a parking lot with the Huntington Beach library. The signs are very good and the AP is easy to find when you get to the parking lot.
When you enter, you check in and pay for the kids - $3 each, not a bad deal. Cash only. They also have snacks for sale.
Everyone must be wearing sturdy, enclosed shoes. No water shoes, either. If you happen to forget your sneakers, they do have shoes there that you can use.
There is a shady area with picnic tables and a sand box and very small jungle gym area. Lots of moms hang out in this area with their little ones. The only difficulty there might be if you have a little one that would want to play in the water. The shady area is right next to the water, and kids are not allowed to play in it. It is only for rafting. So, be aware of that.
There are port-a-potties. Eeeew! On other blogs, I saw that people use the bathrooms at the library before they go to the AP.
They have a couple of designated “changing rooms”. There is also one shower in the picnic area. The day camp kids used the changing rooms. My kids chose to just sit on a towel for the ride home.
If I were to go again, I would choose to arrive at 1:00 or later. That is when the day camps were packing up and leaving. So, the activities cleared out after that. Although, the lines weren't unbearably long while they were there.
There are four main activities in the AP. Activity #1 is the mudslide. This is open intermittently throughout the day. Basically, it’s a trough with a plastic liner that they spray with a hose. The kids slide down and end in a mud pit. My kids were a little disappointed that the mud pit was not as muddy as they had hoped. It was more mud-colored water. But, that didn’t stop them from going down the slide several times. Totally doable for any little one that wants to do it. Be aware that the smaller the child, the deeper the water will be for them at the bottom of the slide.
Activity #2 is the rope bridge. You just walk across the bridge – bouncing is against the rules. My kids did it once when there were lots of kids on the bridge and after that, they made sure to go when it was empty – or at least almost empty.
Activity #3 is rafting. Great fun! The kids loved it and went on several times.
You wait in line and then when it’s your turn, you walk through the water to get to your raft.
The first time my littlest went on with her big sister. After that, she chose to go on by herself. They do allow an adult on with the littles, but it is difficult to balance with a big person and a little person. Just ask my daughters. J Two littles on the raft was easier to balance.
I saw some very small children (age 3 or so) doing it on their own.
Activity #4 is the building area. When you enter, you get a hammer (or saw) and 3 nails. You can use any of the wood in the piles and you can build something free-standing or attach it to the already existing forts.
You can earn more nails in two different ways - turning in pieces of trash or bent/rusty nails. You will want to do this, as 3 nails doesn’t build much. Or, in our case, 9 nails. I couldn’t find any trash, but we found plenty of nails to turn in. As a matter of fact, we did so good earning more nails that we gave away a couple of handfuls to other kids when we left the area.
The kids built a chair and did a fine job of it. J
And, they dreamed of having a fort like these in our own yard.
Since we weren’t sure what to expect, we left everything in the car. You can bring food in with you. There are no lockers or cubbies, so, whatever you bring in, you just set to the side or carry around with you. I told the kids we could find a picnic table after we left, but they decided to just eat in the parking lot.
We definitely give the Adventure Playground thumbs up. Good entertainment and lots of fun for everyone.
Here is the official website: http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/residents/parks_facilities/parks/huntington_central_park/adventure_playground.cfm