This weekend, on a retreat from the city into Gubeikou 古北口 (just two hours northeast), we discovered what I must deem the best playground I have ever seen in China.
I love playgrounds, and not just because my kids love me when I bring them to one. I really love looking at playground design. I imagine the people who think up what to put in a playground must be the kind of people who smile a lot and still enjoying playing even as adults.
Being situated among trees and right next to the mountains containing The Great Wall didn’t hurt this playground’s appeal, but the design itself was impressive regardless of environment. All of the playground equipment was made of thick and sturdy logs and the diversity of play stations was impressive.
Of course there were slides and swings, but there were also hanging ropes with shallow pits so that kids could jump and swing like Tarzan.
The extended netting for climbing “like a spider” was also amazing and most of the adults I was with enjoyed this part of the playground as well. If we weren’t climbing on the netting, we were relaxing in the giant hammock it offered us. The two layers were a bit scary for the little ones, but the kids older than 6 seemed more than willing to scale to the highest heights. (See top image)
In addition, there were balancing toys and obstacle course equipment that were extremely difficult but amazing exercise.
This row of gentle swings reminded me of Canadian backyards and I thoroughly enjoyed a moment of rest between swirling bouts of energy from my kids yelling, “Mommy, come, come! Look at me, look at me!”
Top marks to these playground designers, whoever they are.
Editor’s Note: Those interested in this playground will have to go on a bit of an adventure and China challenge to find it! The playground itself doesn’t have an address, but Ember describes the lot as being a five minute drive from the hotel where she stayed. Below is a link the inn on Baidu. If you go – let us know about your adventure at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Miyun County Gubeikou Village, Gubeikou Town Tunnel, (134 8884 6347, 158 0147 5418) 北京市密云县古北口镇古北口村隧道口
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift