“It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” – Fred Rogers
Perhaps no one understood the value of play better than Fred Rogers, the creator and host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Rogers knew instinctively what research would eventually prove – play is the language through which children learn.
Huntsville Parks & Recreation believes so strongly in the power of play, you’ll find 45 playgrounds throughout the City. While the department may be more widely known for its community centers, athletic fields and aquatics, providing opportunities for unstructured play is a vital part of its mission.
“When you go to a playground, it’s like a sense of freedom,” said Parks & Recreation Director James Gossett. “You don’t have coaches telling you where to run, how to run, where to hit, what to do. It’s all on you.”
Places to play
With the closure of Kids’ Space for a 14-month renovation, now is the perfect time to discover something new. There is so much to explore from Everybody Can Play at Brahan Spring Park, with the adjoining splashpad, to Cove Universal Playground at Mark Russell Recreation Center, to Hays Nature Preserve with its two-story wooden fort, play kitchen, music station, swinging bridge and more.
Out of the department’s 60+ parks, more than two-thirds contain playgrounds. Some are quiet spots, like the Children’s Playground at Maple Hill Cemetery, perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch and the swings. Others are more elaborate like the variety of equipment you’ll find at Dr. Robert Shurney Legacy Center. Some may surprise you, such as Southside Park, which, in addition to traditional play structures, also includes a year-round archery park open to those ages 16 and up.
Because we know convenience is key, you’ll find a playground in every corner of the City. Those looking for options near Kids’ Space will find seven other playgrounds within a two-mile radius: Archer Park, Brahan Spring Park, Chelsea Park, Fern Bell Recreation Center, Fern Gully Park, Hastings Park and Mayfair Park.
While we eagerly await the scheduled opening of the new Kids’ Space next year, we invite you to keep playing and know Parks & Recreation is always working to serve you.
“In recent years, we’ve hired a playground inspector,” Gossett said. “This individual is tasked with going to all of our playgrounds on a regular basis to ensure they are safe. Obviously, with 45 playgrounds, we can’t visit them all weekly, but we get to them as quickly as possible.”
Older playgrounds receive regular maintenance, such as improved drainage. As the City grows and more families discover all that Parks & Recreation has to offer, our commitment to service continues, for this generation and those to come. For the parents who want their children to stretch their minds and their muscles. For the children who can proudly say, “I did it,” after mastering the monkey bars or settling an argument with a friend.
“They become creative,” Gossett said. “They problem solve. There are lot of things they figure out on their own. They work together with their peers. Figuring out how to climb to the top of something or how to run under a tunnel, that’s the beauty of unstructured play.”
To see our full list of playgrounds and other park amenities, check out the Parks & Recreation Summer Guide.
You can also visit our interactive park map. To get started, simply enter your address, select “public parks” and see which facilities are closest to you.