I have been told before by out-of-staters that Connecticut has some of the best playgrounds they’ve ever seen. I’ve been to quite a few in the last two years, and I have to say, we really do!
The newest playground I can add to that list can be found in Manchester: Northwest Park.
Northwest Park is located right on Union Pond, which is just a stone’s throw from Interstate 84. The entrance to the park is right on Tolland Turnpike, just by the Bob’s Discount Furniture store.
I had never been to this playground before, and I was literally expecting just a playground. But Northwest Park actually offers a lot more than just that! They have the pond to view, hiking trails, a pavilion for rent, ball fields and a butterfly garden!
The playground is located on the back right corner when you first drive into Northwest Park. There is a fair amount of parking spaces available. We visited on a weekday evening, so it was not too busy.
The playground rules are posted when you first enter the playground area. They are pretty typical. The playground has two play structures, one is designed for ages 2 to 5, and the other for ages 5 to 12.
The larger play structure, while designed for ages 5 to 12, is pretty timid in its design. There are not too many crazy climbing structures and the slides are not too risky. The larger play structure is very busy – there are a lot of things going on.
Steering wheels are always fun!
Some interesting balance beams and climbing chains.
Of course, a rock wall.
That looks very confusing – but I’m sure older kids will love it! Also, you can see there are even more things to climb and bridges to run across!
The viewing scope was pretty cool, but a little too out of reach for my 2 year old. But again, this wasn’t really designed for his size.
Even more climbing structures!
Another structure that I’m not too sure about. I assume it’s something else to climb!
More monkey bars!
There were lots of slides coming off the large play structure.
This one, however, was the big winner of the day. He went down this at least a dozen times. Who doesn’t love a good roller slide??
The one thing I noticed, and absolutely loved about this play structure? This mat at the bottom of the slide! What a brilliant idea! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before and from someone who was traumatized as a child by falling off a fast slide… I totally appreciate that!
The smaller play structure is equally fun but has smaller slides and easier things to climb.
This structure also has a ramp to climb and more tunnels.
Fun stairs to climb, monkey bars and toad stools.
The slides are smaller, and less daring for toddlers.
But what really made this smaller play structure better for toddlers? The sand pit.
I was NOT prepared for the sand. Sand, everywhere… How I loathe sand. As one parent to another, prepare yourself for the sand!
Also in the smaller children’s area they had these riding toys and see saw.
There are two swing sets: one near the back of larger play structure, and one alongside the parking lot/entrance to the playground. There are infant swings and an accessible swing.
The play area is mostly sand or rubber surface. The design of the whole area is open but there are blind spots if you have kids on both sides of the playground. There is also no fence or barrier, so it is easy to escape. There are benches and picnic tables, even a covered pavilion, surrounding the play area for you rest while the kids play or even stop for a snack. The area is stroller friendly but with parking so close, you can easily leave the stroller in the car.
Right next to the playground, there is a small building which actually has restrooms! A playground with an actual bathroom!
And a changing table!!
Across from the playground, you’ll find the ball fields and the rentable pavilion. The pavilion has many picnic tables, as well as restrooms and a fully equipped kitchen!
The butterfly garden is also located next to the playground. This was full of beautiful flowers, a bench and of course, butterflies. It was easy to walk through with a stroller.
Alongside the back of Northwest Park you’ll also find a walking trail. We spotted a number of runners and walkers on the evening we visited.
The last thing we checked out was the pond. There was actually a small pier that overlooked the water, but it appeared that the walking trails ran right alongside the pond below the pier.
From what I understand, Northwest Park is a fairly new addition to Manchester. It is definitely in great shape and well-kept. The playground alone makes this worthy of a visit, but the park is way more than just a playground. This is a great destination for parents that like to take nature hikes. Plan to visit for a couple hours, take a stroll along the pond and enjoy the butterfly garden as well as the playground! You won’t regret it!
This about sums it up…
448 Tolland Turnpike– Manchester, CT
Hours: Open Daily – Dawn to Dusk
- Stroller and wheelchair accessible
- Boundless playground – open design including two play areas for the smaller crowd and the older crowd
- Swings- including baby swings and accessible swing
- Rubber Ground Cover in the Playground area
- Sand pit
- Shady & Sunny play area
- Many benches and picnic tables throughout the playground
- Large parking lot with plenty of available spaces
- Pavilion available for rent
- Bathroom facilities & Changing Table Available
- Hiking Paths/Explore Nature!
A few additional tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to hike or walk around the park
- Bring sunscreen, the playground was pretty sunny
- The playground is not fenced in – so be extra cautious if you have a runner