Hoyt-Sullivan Park in Somerville, photo courtesy Earthscape

You desperately need to get the kids out of the house but are a little tired of the same old local playgrounds you’ve been to a million times. Sometimes you just need a little variety! No worries — we’ve got you covered. Here are 14 destination playgrounds in the Boston area that are totally worth driving to!

Martin’s Park :: Seaport

This newer inclusive playground offers a fantastic view of the city and the bay. It’s right on the Boston waterfront and is the only playground with a giant pirate ship that you can climb inside! It’s also close to the Boston Tea Party Museum and the Boston Children’s Museum, and it’s located along the Harborwalk. In the winter, we love the annual holiday “ship lighting” ceremony (and we love that this park is well lit during those dark winter afternoons).

The playground is fenced in and has a few levels with many different slides, swinging and climbing features, and a splash pad. It’s good for all ages, but keep in mind that the layout can sometimes make it challenging to keep track of multiple kids. 

Logistics: There are no bathrooms on site. There is street or garage parking, and the park is T accessible.

Martin's Park in Boston, destination playgrounds
Photo courtesy Friends of Martin’s Park

Louis A. DePasquale Universal Design Playground :: Cambridge

This fairly new playground near Fresh Pond is just across the river from Boston and is a destination for anyone seeking a highly accessible place to play — for all ages and abilities! It has a splash pad, a treehouse, wooden play structures, and wheelchair-accessible swings. There are also musical instruments, cool artwork, and paths for bikes and scooters. The unique playground design is truly something to marvel at! This playground is part of the 50-acre Danehy Park, which features two other playgrounds (one with a splash pad), sports fields, and paved trails for walking and biking.

Logistics: There is a parking lot and plenty of shade in the summer. However, there are no bathrooms close to the playground, and although the playground is fenced in, it’s large enough that you can easily lose sight of the little ones!

Cambridge Universal Playground (destination playgrounds in Boston)
Photo courtesy Cambridge Arts Council

Millenium Park :: West Roxbury

This newly renovated playground is located on top of a hill by a large park and recreation area. It has a nice view, and there are some excellent walking and biking paths nearby. The playground is fenced in and has a separate toddler zone, infant and big kid swings, multiple climbing structures, a playhouse, a wooden balance boat, and tapered inclines. My son really enjoys bringing his monster trucks here and launching them down the hill by the climbing structure!

Logistics: There is, unfortunately, little shade here in the summer (and no splash pad), so keep in mind that it can get really hot. There is a large parking lot and port-a-potties on site.

Photo courtesy City of Boston photographers

Larz Anderson Park :: Brookline

This large playground is located by a lovely park/recreation area as well as the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. It is fully fenced in and has a toddler area, infant and big kid swings, and wooden climbing structures — and it’s a great place to do a ninja warrior-style obstacle course challenge with your kids! There is plenty of shade here in the summertime. This is also a good spot for birthday parties/events, but you do have to pay to reserve a table. 

Logistics: There is a parking lot and bathrooms on site, but no splash pad. Keep in mind that the parking lot can get full quickly if there is an event or a game at the park

Hoyt-Sullivan Playground :: Somerville

Train lovers rejoice! This playground is the go-to place to watch trains passing right under your feet. There is a kid-safe observation platform that my toddler could spend hours playing on. This playground is fully fenced in, has fantastic climbing and balance structures for bigger kids, infant and big kid swings, wooden play structures, and a small water table and a sand pit. 

Logistics: There is no bathroom, and street parking is largely resident only (though there are some non-resident spots). This playground is T accessible!

Hoyt-Sullivan playground Somerville (Boston destination playgrounds)
Photo courtesy Earthscape

Brewer-Burroughs Playground (aka “The Tot Lot”) :: Jamaica Plain

This fenced-in Boston playground is a toddler’s paradise. My 3-year-old exclusively asks to come here. It has a large sandpit and is full of well-loved toys donated by local parents — ride-on toys, play kitchens, cars and trucks… you name it, it’s there! There is ample shade here, and all the play structures are toddler friendly. Older kids (5+) may want to bring a book or other activities, as this playground really is toddler-focused.

Logistics: There are no bathrooms and no splash pad. There is street parking, but you can also park in the municipal parking lot behind Blanchard’s. It’s T accessible.

Soule Playground :: Chestnut Hill

Two for one at this location — there is a fenced-in playground for toddlers with a cool wooden train structure as well as a playground for bigger kids with lots of climbing structures, swings, and spinning seats. The biggest draw of this playground is the vast splash pad, which has one of those fun bucket features that dumps water out when it gets full. This is one of my family’s go-to places in the summertime.

Logistics: There is a parking lot here and onsite bathrooms, but keep in mind that the parking lot fills up fast in the peak of summer, so come early!

Esplanade Playspace :: Back Bay 

This unique playground is located right by the Hatch Shell and offers beautiful views of the Charles River. After playing, you can sit on the docks and do some boat watching as you wait for the sunset. The biggest draw for kids is a long zipline — it goes pretty fast! Other playground features include wooden and rock climbing structures, a spinning seat, and a little merry go round. While this playground is great for older kids, it is not fenced in so can be tricky to navigate with wandering toddlers.

Logistics: There is a public restroom nearby. It can definitely be challenging to find parking here, but this playground is T accessible. Pair it with a trip to the Boston Public Library just a few blocks away.

Esplanade Playground Boston (destination playgrounds)
Photo courtesy Ed Wonsek

Boston City Hall Plaza Playground (aka the one with the “Cop Slide”) :: Government Center

This enclosed playground is right in the middle of the city at Government Center — a true Boston destination playground! It’s right across from Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail. It’s fun for all ages, and that slide really is something! (Don’t get scared off by the cop slide videos, though — my kids have never picked up that kind of speed on the slide!) There are multiple slides to choose from, plus climbing elements and an interesting water feature. This playground is a great choice for older kids. Keep in mind that there isn’t much shade here in the summer. 

Logistics: There are no bathrooms on site. There is street or garage parking, and it’s very T accessible.

Menino Playground :: Charlestown

This accessible playground is located right on the Harborwalk with beautiful views of the bay. It’s across from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and there is a little mini-golf course behind the hospital that you can use if you bring your own gear. This playground has infant and big kid swings, climbing features, and a little merry-go-round. There is also a small water table and a wheelchair-accessible swing. Please note that the playground is not fully fenced in.

One of the best things about this playground is that since it’s located so close to the airport, you can watch the planes land and take off. This park is a great place to visit after spending some time at the USS Constitution and USS Constitution Museum, which are just down the street! The Bunker Hill Monument is also nearby.

Logistics: There is a tiny parking lot here (just a few spots), but street parking is available. There are no bathrooms onsite, but you can use the ones at the hospital across the street.

Alexander W. Kemp Playground :: Cambridge Common

This cool nature-inspired playground is located right outside of Harvard Square, and it’s definitely worth a visit. It has many wooden structures and a neat viking ship kids can climb on! It also has a merry-go-round, a seesaw, a water table, unique climbing features, and a large sand pit. Kids can easily spend many hours expending energy here after a visit to the nearby Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Logistics: There is no on-site bathroom, but there is a port-a-potty in eyesight. There is street parking all around the Common, and the park is T accessible.

Prospect Park :: Waltham

Though it’s a little farther from Boston, this playground is definitely a destination! In fact, this park is such a hidden gem we kind of want to keep it to ourselves! The playground has it all — a huge splash pad, bathrooms, ample shade, toddler and big kid climbing structures, a zipline, and even a little amusement park that is open on select days from spring through fall! Admission is free for the six rides, including a carousel, a helicopter ride, and a train ride. (Check the website for exact dates and times of operation.) There are also some nice walking trails nearby.

Logistics: There is a parking lot, but it can get quite full on summer weekends! Come early.

Artesani Playground, Wading Pool, and Spray Deck :: Brighton

Artesani is a favorite destination playground in one of Boston’s most family-friendly areas. This one is especially popular during the summer months for its scenic location along the Charles River, multiple playground areas, a wading pool, and a splash pad. There are also picnic areas so you can make a day of it! The pirate-themed playground is fenced in and can accommodate kids of all ages. There are multiple types and sizes of climbing structures, baby swings and big saucer swings, spinning seats, monkey bars, and more.

On summer days, plan to spend hours alternating between the playgrounds, splash pad, and wading pool. The shallow pool has many fun features, like the “sneaky soaker” tipping buckets, fountains, and sprayers.

Logistics: There is a huge parking lot and full bathroom/shower facilities. Lifeguards are on duty at the wading pool. There isn’t a lot of shade over the playground or the pool, but there are many trees in the park to catch a break from the sun.

Lincoln Park :: Somerville

This is another family favorite — there’s something for everyone! There are fields for throwing a frisbee, basketball courts and baseball fields for the sports enthusiasts, a small water park, a parkour area, and a skate park. The sprawling playground accommodates kids of all ages — there is a toddler climbing structure, a very tall “sky walk” structure, three types of swings, a sand area, and lots of open space to run and climb.

Logistics: Much of the nearby parking is resident only and there is no parking lot, but there is available street parking around. The playground itself isn’t fenced in, so keep an eye on wandering children. There are port-a-potties on site.

Looking for more parks with splash pads? Check out our guide here!

Maria Zolotarev
Originally from Moscow, Maria has lived in the Boston area since grade school. She attended Boston Latin, where she met her husband, and then graduated from Northeastern University. Maria now lives in the vibrant neighborhood of Roslindale with her husband and two kids (born in 2015 and 2020). She works as clinical pharmacist by day and runs the Roslindale Littles Facebook group in her free time. Prompted by the pandemic, she dove headfirst into finding her “Unicorn Space” outside of working and momming. She rediscovered her love of writing and one day she hopes to publish a children’s book that showcases her family's culture. Most days you can find her chasing her super active kids around the garden while she listens to a never ending TBR list of audiobooks. Likes: tea, cats, yoga, hiking, her Peloton, exploring, reading, gardening and meeting new people. :)