What Makes a Good Playground? Complete Guide

When my family travels, I often love taking my kids to city parks to explore the eclectic playgrounds that each city has to offer. It is a fun time of exploring different cultures and different …

what makes a good

When my family travels, I often love taking my kids to city parks to explore the eclectic playgrounds that each city has to offer. It is a fun time of exploring different cultures and different playground trends. With this in mind, I did some research on what the top 2019 playground trends were so we could know what to expect when we visited.

So what are the top 2020 playground trends? Many playground trends are focussing on: inclusive design, thematic design, new playground technologies, musical elements, and sustainability. 

I found this to be true in our park explorations and here are some reasons I love these 2019 playground trends:


what makes a good We love to teach our kids about playing with others, especially kids that are different than them. We once lived in New York City and went to parks every day. These parks were some of the most creative and inclusive parks that we had ever seen.

During these experiences, my kids got a chance to play with many kids of different ethnicities, religions, and even economic levels. It was a real bonding and relational building time where they made friends that they would meet at the park weekly.

Learning to play together has become a philosophy that we have adopted into our family. We appreciate any park that puts this message forward, especially in their inclusive design. We believe parks are about building community, teaching kids h0w to play together, and teaching kids how to learn from others different than them.

When parks design playgrounds that are inclusive, this often means that the arrangement of play areas have activities that are designed with the intention of two to four kids engaging in that particular activity.

These activities can be anywhere from seesaws to body size checkers, and even more. Inclusive design truly provides communal activity and we are happy to find this as one of the top 2019 playground trends today.


When we have encountered thematic parks, we have seen them center around categories such as pirates, cowboys, spaceships, aliens, or even specific countries.

We have also seen playgrounds centered around specific children’s TV characters such as Spongebob, Dora the Explorer, and even Transformers. And lastly, we have seen thematic parks designed around the seasons of the year: winter, spring, fall, and summer.

This type of thought and intentionality is not put into every park, but the parks and playgrounds that emphasize this standout as monumental places for children and cultivates their imagination.

Every time my children have left parks like these, they have never forgotten them. They are often asking when they can visit the Transformers park or the cowboy park again. Memories are more valuable than materials.

We are always looking for the next experience to have with our kids and we are lucky if we find a new amazing park centered around a cool unique theme. We want to take every chance to encourage imagination.


People are always waiting for the future to arrive, but the future is now! Playgrounds with new technology inspire innovation and capture where we are in present time with new innovative design.

Jump roping and swinging just doesn’t cut it anymore for our children who are growing up with technology. While we should always encourage more outdoor play, creating activities in playgrounds that can keep up with the stimuli of modern-day media is also important. There is a trend of more playgrounds utilizing technological designs and they are a hit.

There are also new technologies that bring in the use of interactive sounds, visuals, and even use the tool of smartphones and tablets for engaging in-park activities.

Using technology as a tool for playground creation inspires innovation and inspires imagination for our children. As parents, we encourage less time on technology and more time outdoors but do not frown upon using technology in a positive way for interactive and inclusive play.playground children

This has definitely been a strong trend that we have seen amongst playgrounds in our travels, and we give it a big thumbs up.


As more and more schools are starting to cut music programs and the arts, it is a brilliant concept to bring such musical elements and artistic crafting to neighborhood parks.

Re-introducing musical elements in nature is a highly positive interaction for children at parks. We have seen anywhere from giant pianos that you can stomp on with your feet to xylophones where the kids can enter into a musical melody together.

This has been a major trend bringing kids of all different backgrounds together with different musical styles.

It has been proven time and time again that music is one of the main things that can bring people together. Musical elements encourage creativity, and while our kids are out in nature playing with other children, this is the proper place for discovering the inner artist.

From singing to dancing, music is a powerful tool that can help our playgrounds engage in creativity, culture, and community for kids of all ages.


One of our favorite trends that we have seen and researched is the sustainable initiative that most parks and playgrounds are taking. Parks are using environmentally friendly products in their playground construction, and are even encouraging recycling on their properties.

Have you ever been to a dirty or nasty playground that is full of trash? This is the last place that encourages beauty, friendship, and fun.

When parks and playgrounds put a greater emphasis on sustainability, this not only teaches our kids to clean up after themselves but also teaches them to take better care of our earth. Sustainability teaches responsibility, and we as parents need help with this initiative!

Some of the most amazing playground designs are even built using recycled products in their construction. Becoming “green-conscious” takes education, demonstration, and practice.

As playgrounds continue to utilize this trend, there will be an increase of children who grow up learning to be more conscious about the environment and what it means to take care of the earth as individuals. This is a communal action. We must teach them while they’re young!

The beautiful thing about the 2019 playground trends is that most of them are inclusive, encourage playing together, and cultivate the artistic imagination.

As my family continues to travel the country, we are going to continue looking for playgrounds that encompass these trends. We value inclusion, sustainability, innovation in design, sturdy construction, and the artistic expression of each child, and we hope you do too.

Each child is uniquely different and there is a playground out there for every one of them, and they can share that experience with others and make friends around the country or in their own neighborhoods.


How can you find environmentally friendly parks?
All cities offer parks with this feature, but it will take research on your part to find the best ones for you. Here is a list of the 11 best environmental friendly parks in America.

How important is it to get my children active at community parks with playgrounds?
According to the NCBI, playgrounds are specifically created to offer special opportunities for children to play and be physically active. This helps facilitate healthy development for children at an early age.

Why are inclusive parks important for your children?
Teaching your kids to play with others is an important social skill that will go with them into adulthood. Also, learning how to accept others is critical in a time where bullying and violence are rampant among youth.

Playgrounds are opportunities to create safe spaces for children to learn that everyone is equal and everyone belongs together on this earth. As parents, we must take responsibility and take the first step by bringing our kids to a place where they can learn to see others and learn to love.

What if your neighborhood parks don’t offer these trends?
Get involved! There is always an opportunity for parents to get involved, write petitions, or start initiatives. You can take matters into your own hands and create the park you want to see for your neighborhood or city. Start today!