Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity | Robert M. Pirsig
Some of our favorite games and inventions have been created by my kids during those “boring” summer days. So here is your permission to take off your summer cruise director hat today, mama, and remind your kids that adventure and excitement can be found everywhere and with anything. They will figure it out, even if there is a little (or a lot of) grumbling along the way.
One easy way we have tried to foster that sense of exploration and discovery, without requiring me to direct it, is by trying out new parks and playgrounds. They are free and we have SO many great ones to choose from- all of which offer a little different kind of fun. By simply changing our location, my kids tend to dig into those creativity muscles a bit more. Sometimes, however, I find that we go to the same three parks over and over again because they are easy and because they are right next to our house. But if you are willing to venture out even a little bit, there are so many within a 20-mile radius of Mission Hills Church. Here is a list of some of our Top 17 Parks (random number, I know, but I couldn’t get it down to 15)… all within a short drive of the church. Hope this list helps you branch out or reminds you of an old favorite you haven’t been to in a while.
1 | Westlands Park (7.9 miles from MHC)
This park has a little bit of everything- three different play areas, a giant rock to climb, a big open field, and lots of good shade! Even my preteens think this one is still really fun.
2 | Deputy Zach S. Parrish III Memorial Park (18.9 miles from MHC)
I think this is my kids’ all-time favorite park. It has different kinds of play equipment that you can’t find everywhere else. Their favorite is the zipline and all the climbing structures. I think my favorite thing is that there are things for all ages of kids at this park from really littles to my preteens!
3 | Centennial Center Park (12.6 miles from MHC)
This is a little gem we hadn’t discovered until just recently. It has a big splash pad, sand (because you know we all love the sand in our cars), and lots of great playground equipment too.
4 | Miller Activity Complex (21 miles from MHC)
This one is a little outside my 20-mile boundary but talk about something for everyone! There is a trampoline park, swimming and a huge INDOOR play structure inside the MAC (but this part does cost money). Or the outside park is free and is the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch and stay awhile. It has some fun play structures built into the hill, the Castle Rock Incline is just across the street and there is even a splash pad to cool down.
5 | Redstone Park (3.3 miles from MHC)
Probably most people have heard of this one, but it is still one of our favorites. The shaded sandpit is always a hit, and we love the little pond and trail behind the play structures (and the “bossy gooses” as my little guy calls them).
6 | Writer’s Vista Park (1.7 miles from MHC)
This is a little hidden gem that we only found because my son played baseball at these fields. But the play structure is SO fun! It has lots of levels and is great for lots of ages. They also have a separate structure made just for littles. But it is the view here that gets me! It looks out over a pond and the mountain views make me happy.
7 | Belleview Park (5.1 miles from MHC)
My kids call this one Airplane Park because it features a big old airplane right as you drive in. The playground sits right in the sun, so I would recommend doing this one early during the summer. However, once it gets hot, there is a big stream that runs right through the middle where the kids can wade or take a walk through to cool off. There is also a little train ride and a small petting zoo (for a fee) if you are looking for something easy and different.
8 | Tanks Skate Park (3.6 miles from MHC)
Okay, my biggest piece of advice is GET HERE EARLY before the teenagers wake up! It will be cooler and you won’t have to work around the big kids. But this is so fun for something different! Bring bikes or scooters, and there are plenty of flat open places to ride and enough little ramps that even your toddlers will be able to “ride the rails.”
9 | Littleton Historic Museum and Gallup Park (4.0 miles from MHC)
This is one of the coolest free places in our area. There are animals to see, old buildings to play in and it is all free (with donations accepted). Also- Gallup Park across the street is the perfect place to end a fun morning so bring a picnic lunch and plan to eat over there! One thing to keep in mind- the museum is closed on Mondays!
10 | DeKoevend Park (4.1 miles from MHC)
The trails around this park are great so maybe plan for a fun run/bike ride in the morning and end it off with a great playground!
11 | Prairie Sky Park (10.2 miles from MHC)
I like how spread out this playground is so even when there are a lot of kids, it doesn’t feel crowded. There is good equipment for toddlers, and it is a great one for the game of “groundies” if you have older kiddos too.
12 | Chaucer Park (10.4 miles from MHC)
10594 W. Vista View Drive – Littleton
This one is so fun because the whole place is medieval themed- think castles, ships, and dragons. Another fun thing to do here is the built-in treasure hunt where your littles can go around and find a list of different shapes throughout the playground.
13 | Clement Park (7 miles from MHC)
7306 W. Bowles Avenue – Littleton
Okay, speaking of themed parks, this one is pretty amazing too. It was completely redone in 2019 and features a musical theme. There are xylophones, drums, bells, and even big organ pipes on the structures. Our two favorite parts of this one, though, are the obstacle course and the merry-go-round (which is actually designed to accommodate wheelchairs too!)
14 | Dad Clark Park (5.4 miles from MHC)
3385 Astorbrook Circle – Highlands Ranch
The big sand box is a hit here and it even has a little bit of shade. We also like that there is a close basketball court so my bigger kids can play there while the littles play at the playground. There is also a little garden plot (The Potato Patch) just down the hill that we like to check out and see if we can figure out what kinds of things are growing in the summer.
15 | Springer Park (2.9 miles from MHC)
1200 E. Goldsmith – Highlands Ranch
This park is tucked back in a Highlands Ranch neighborhood, so you may not have tried this one yet. We love it because it is not usually crowded, has great areas to ride bikes away from the road, and a lot of grass to play in next to the double decker play structure and sand box. Biggest bummer at this park- no bathrooms!
16 | Northridge Park (1.4 miles from MHC)
8800 S. Broadway – Highlands Ranch
We love the shade offered at this park. It has plenty of places to get under coverings or trees, so this is a great one for those super hot summer days. There are baseball fields here too, so you could even bring a tee or your ball and glove.
17 | Civic Green Park (2.2 miles from MHC)
9370 S. Ridgeline Blvd. – Highlands Ranch
Okay, a list of all the great parks in our area didn’t seem complete without Civic Green Park, even though I’m sure most of you have tried it out before. The playground is decent, but our favorite part is the mini creek and the fountains. I love that they have two different fountain areas because the bigger one tends to draw the older kids, and littles can still have calmer fun. And the best part- it backs right up to the Highlands Ranch Library so you can stop there, get some books, and then hit the park.
It seems like this list could go on and on because I am certain that I left off some of your favorites. But hopefully, this is a good start that you can refer to on those extra boring days. Our Mission Hills MOPS team created a Douglas County Summer Bucket List you can print and check off as well. So many of these ideas can be done last minute and with very little cost. Enjoy this sweet time with your kids. Let them be bored, and then pick some fun things to do together as a family. Probably the days you plan the least will end up being some of their very favorites.
Check back soon for our next MomNation blog. We can’t wait to see you all back this fall at all of our MomNation groups. Registration opens July 1.
✍️ Credit :: Erin Marken