Playgrounds across the nation are looking increasingly similar: a few brightly colored slides, bouncy rubber flooring, and a tunnel or two. Though they’re definitely an improvement from earlier decades’ burning-hot metal slides and dangerous seesaws, these playgrounds often aren’t particularly imaginative. Some architects, designers, and builders, however, have made it their mission to create new types of playgrounds that elicit creativity in children. Here are 12 of the best such playgrounds across the United States:

Best Play Grounds in the U.S.

1. Imagination Playground, New York City

Based on the idea that children should have a more open-ended play space, this playground provides big blue blocks of all shapes and sizes that kids can use to build just about anything they’d like, encouraging them to create their own games.

2. Science Playground, Corona, New York

This playground, part of the New York Hall of Science, is designed to teach children about scientific principles such as motion, sound, sight, and balance — all within a futuristic looking jungle gym full of contraptions such as a giant seesaw, spider webs, and a wobbling bridge.

3. Children’s Garden at Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

This urban playground, located in the heart of San Francisco, includes a xylophone, a labyrinth of hedges, a stream children can create dams for, and huge tube slides. When kids are bored of all that, they can head over to the nearby carousel, ice skating rink, or bowling alley.

4. Preston’s H.O.P.E., Beachwood, Ohio

Preston’s H.O.P.E. is a 60,000 square foot playground that is accessible to children with physical disabilities. It has an entire playground village with houses, a school, a bank and a hair salon, as well as a play theater and a sand area where kids can dig for “fossils.”

5. Westminster Center Park, Westminster, Colorado

This “Peter Pan”-themed playground will make sure kids never want to grow up with its pirate ship and water feature.

6. Union Square Park Playground, New York City

This 2009 playground is one of New York’s newest — and best. It has a metal dome, tunnel, a nature path, a spinning teacup, and talking tube, among much, much more.

7. Lion’s Park Playscape, Greensboro, Alabama

Rather than a traditional playground, Lion’s Park Playscape is a maze of 55-gallon metal barrels, as well as sensory rooms contained with them, that kids can use to make music, play hide and seek, or just about anything else they can imagine.

8. Clemyjontri Playground, McLean, Virginia

This two-acre playground is designed to meet the needs of children with physical and developmental disabilities. There are four sections circling the centerpiece — a carousel. One section is rainbow colored, one has a schoolhouse and maze, and one is all about transportation.

9. Shiver Me Timbers Millennium Park Playground, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Though it’s located right on Lake Charles, this playground is more than just a pretty view. This accessible playground has a two-story pirate ship, a tree house, and a tire swing to inspire kids’ inner buccaneers.

10. Harmony Park Musical Playground, Moab, Utah

Harmony Park is unique in that it’s designed not for kids to just run around — but also for them to make noise, with a host of oversized outdoor instruments.

11. Adventure Playground, Berkeley, California

This junkyard-inspired playground has a zip line, as well as lumber, hammers, and nails for kids to create. Unlike most playgrounds, it’s designed for older kids, from around 7-12.

12. MonstroCity, St. Louis

Right in front of City Museum is a playground (or sculpture to some) that features suspended aircrafts, a tower, giant slinkies, and ball pits — all while looking like a junkyard.

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This article was written by Isabella Sayyah. Image credit: