My name is Andrea. I’m a Mom to two wonderful little boys, Jack is almost three and Dean is five months old! I’m a teacher by trade, but currently tutor, run a small home daycare, and write in my spare time. Originally from Toronto, I moved here with my husband and a young Jack in September 2016 after spending five years teaching in both China and Hong Kong. I speak some Mandarin, even less Cantonese, passable French, and English. I love to travel, attempt pinterest crafts and recipes, workout, and spend time with my boys. My family loves to keep busy, and any chance we get we’re off exploring new places – either within Canada or abroad!
Fave 5 Parks
Let me preface my park selections with a bit of background information. I have a very active 3 year old boy, an 8 month old boy, and I run a daycare. On any given day, I have anywhere from 2-5 kids aged 8 months through 3 years at home. We take full advantage of our Canadian summers- getting out multiple times a day and usually spending most mornings at a park or splashpad!
I have the bottom of my stroller filled with park accessories. I have buckets and shovels for all, additional “park toys”, bubbles, a picnic blanket, an extra diaper for each kid, wipes, a first aid kit, chalk, water bottles and snacks for all, and a travel potty. The potty has been a life saver, as with potty training toddlers there isn’t enough time to run home and pee. And very few parks we’ve come across, only one on our list, actually have bathrooms.
After having asked my (very opinionated) three year old and our daycare friends, these are the parks they told me were their favourites:
#1. Juniper Park (affectionately named “Rocks Park” by my kiddos)
Location- Edge of the field behind the North Home Depot
This park is our number one favourite because it is a close walk from home- which means we can get out even when we have 5 kids and only a double stroller! My toddlers love it because it has small slides, and a big slide, multiple climbing options, a steering wheel, a long ramp to run down, and fun places to crawl under for shade. As mentioned above, the park is also filled with rocks. Which is a fan favourite for digging in, collecting, and filling buckets with! It is also great because it backs a field- which means we can run around and play games, bring bubbles to play with, toss around a baseball, or play frisbee. Another huge perk- it is always almost empty! On any given day we are the only people there.
#2. French Park (“Sand Park” if you ask my kids!)
Location-McIntosh Ave. N (between Juniper and Tremaine)
This park is a favourite because of it’s close proximity to our house, the many options for playing, and the huge hill! In the summer this park also boasts a lot of shade- which is great for breaks from playing and picnics. Since this is a bit of a longer walk for my kids, we’ll often bring a cooler bag with us to this park and spend the whole morning there, having a picnic snack or lunch. This park is great because it has a huge play structure with three slides, multiple levels, and many climbing options. In addition there are four swings – two baby swings and two regular swings. The surface area of the park is also large and is filled with sand. Having sand toys on hand can lead to hours of entertainment!! The large hill attached to the park is also a bonus! Good for running up and down, races, scavenger hunts up the hill and surrounding area, and even sledding down in the winter! Similarly, this park is rarely busy.
#3. Hopson Park (Hawkstone Area)
Location: Rochdale Blvd. & McEachern Drive
This park is a favourite because it is different from the parks closer to our house. I personally love this park, I think it’s great. It has two play structures with four slides combined, a rock climbing wall, a climbing net, a balance beam, steering wheels, and several unique climbing options. The swings are a third play structure, and there are two regular swings, a baby swing, and an accessible swing. Different from the other parks, this one is also filled with wood chips. My kiddos love to play in these, and my younger ones are not as tempted to eat them as they are with rocks and sand! I also love that this park backs a huge field! On the weekends you may see sports teams practicing, and the field is great for running games, or tossing around a ball!
#4. Lakeridge Park North “Pirate Park”
Location: 5560 Libel Crescent
As you can guess based on the name, this park is shaped like a Pirate Ship! It’s design alone makes it a huge favourite. My kids love to pretend they are driving a pirate ship, and sailing along the sea. This park has a fun play structure, multiple slides- including a really steep one, and many climbing options. There is also a large swing set off to the side. What I also like about this park, is the walk to get there, through the Lakeridge paths, is very scenic. Coming from Rochdale, you will also pass another park, its black and green, on the way to this one. We will often stop at both places in a morning. This park tends to be busier than the other parks listed above, especially on the weekends, but I’ve never seen it uncomfortably crowded!
#5. Rick Hanson Playground
Location: A.E. Wilson Park (7th Avenue)
Our last favourite (only because we stuck to 5, and in no particular order) is Rick Hanson. This playground is great. I love that the play structure is all connected but there are so many little areas to play in, places to climb up and through, and slides to go down. This park has something for everyone- even older children. In addition to the main structure there are also accessible swings, and a cute little splashpad. I also enjoy that the play structure has astroturf so its not messy and you don’t end up with sand or rocks everywhere! Finally, it is surrounded by a beautiful walking trail, and as a HUGE bonus there are actually bathrooms on site!!
Well, these are 5 of our favourite YQR parks! I’ll admit we are biased as we live Northwest and tend to stay close to this area- as a lot of times we are walking. But, if you’re ever up here and looking for some awesome parks check these ones out!