All We Need is Sun: 10 Playgrounds to Soak Up Autumn’s Rays

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The rain will come. It’s inevitable. During breaks from the wet, nothing beats savoring some sun-drenched glee. We’ve rounded up the bestest light-filled outdoor kiddo meccas so now you can see the bright, no matter where in town you may be.


The Fields Park
NW 10th @ Overton

First up is The Fields Park. Come play away at the amazing climbing options and a sand box that stretches as far and wide as the new silvery ladders and ropes do. Shovels and diggers at-the-ready, the streetcar swings by, and the mounted police trot past. One of our faves, Tanner Springs Park, hovers a block away with its boardwalk, creek and possible heron sightings. You’re in The Pearl but also in heaven.

the fields park 2

Couch Park
NW 19th @ Glisan

Couch Park rocks two play structures  – a giant wooden, turreted winner and a vertical climbing masterpiece. It’s crazy close to all the eating delights of NW 21st and 23rd and also has plenty of green grass for running, picnics and not-too-reckless abandon.

couch park


Gabriel Park
SW 45th @ Vermont

Gabriel Park is rad. Sharing park space with our most modern den of community swellness, Southwest Community Center, it also has full-sun play structures and what-feels-like-miles of fab biking. Gabriel Park lives it, loves it, owns it – when it comes to one of the best free kiddo-delights around: a HUGE skate park. Settle in and watch the skaters and BMXers do their thang. The sun will keep your oohs, ahhs and gasps of delight company.


Willamette Park
SW Macadam @ Nebraska

Willamette Park wins for beautiful backdrop. Right along the river for which it is named, this park is 110% pretty. Washed-up logs make for excellent fort building and the boat ramp serves up ample entertainment. The not-to-be-missed adventure here: bike-riding along the water’s edge. Cheers to going the distance, wheelers and dealers.


Fernhill Park
NE 37th @ Ainsworth

Fernhill Park is a slam-dunk of bright and cheery green space. Full sun blankets the playdom, the slide is for the littles only. We know you like your elbows and knees as is.  This park is humongous to boot: see the track, tennis courts, baseball fields and giant hill for rolling if you don’t believe us. It might just be the warmest spot for miles.

Irving Park
NE 7th @ Fremont

Irving Park has covered and uncovered basketball for those days when the rain and sun cannot decide who will win. Bring balls of any type and hide undercover while you wait for the light to reappear then dive into big fields, hilly walkways, and multiple options for sunlit scampering. A quick trot across NE Fremont delights bellies with Free House (Olympic Provisions hot dogs and mac & cheese), County Cork (try the BLT), and Café Destino (samwich amazefest).

irving park


Piccolo Park
SE 27th @ Division

Piccolo Park is as lyrical as its name. Spend a morning or afternoon here and try not to hum a tune or tap your toes. It’s that merry.  Sandwiched just off  the epic coolness of SE Division, Piccolo Park is a fab way to work off or build up an appetite. We love the appropriately named Sunshine Tavern with our team. Shuffleboard anyone?

piccolo park 2

Clinton Park
SE 55th @ Woodward

Clinton Park is big park goodness. Sun? Check. Fresh air? Check.  People watching? Check and check.  There are a coupla different play areas here but like Salt and Straw on a Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong.


Harper’s Playground/Arbor Lodge Park
N Bryant @ Delaware

We are crushing on the 2013 Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Award-winning Harper’s Playground.  Since you amazing readers voted it totally awesome, you must be, too! See ya there for light and bright days of water and sand play as well as grass sliding, rock climbing and xylophone sharing. It’s always sunny at Arbor Lodge Park and Harper’s Playground, even on the dreariest day.

Farragut Park
N Kerby @ Farragut

Farragut Park is beloved by neighbors and visitors alike. Go for the fort adventures courtesy of the many bridges and slides in their zone of whimsy. Stay for the bonus court and crush a game of wall ball or whatever new pastime your little imaginators dream up. Sunshine will be on shoulders and your playgrounders will be happy.

This One Goes To Eleven

Ok, ok. We said ten sunny playgrounds, but we would be remiss without mentioning (in case anybody doesn’t know) Washington Park‘s shiny and bright destination play-a-palooza. Located next to The Japanese Garden, Int’l Rose Garden and accessible via Zoo Train this place shines, shines, shines…

washington park

Where parks and playgrounds to you frequent to soak up Autumn’s rays? Tell us below!

— Liz Overson

Thanks for the photos, and Liz Overson.