Just Opened: The Renovated Raymond Kimball Playground in San Francisco

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If you’re a regular at the Hamilton Playground on Geary and Steiner streets in San Francisco, you and your slide fanatics have probably watched the transformation of the Raymond Kimball playground directly across the street. Well, it’s finally complete and open for business—in this case, sliding, tightrope walking, tunneling and climbing.
Wood You Play With Me?
In contrast to all of the brightly colored plastic and metal of other recently revamped kiddie stomping grounds, Raymond Kimball’s play structures are primarily wood. Pair that with the slightly bouncy and evergreen turf that covers the ground, instead of the ubiquitous rubber mat flooring, and the effect is pretty idyllic. (And, fair warning, if your kids have trouble keeping their shoes on at a regular old playground, this one basically begs them to kick off their sneaks.) Another nature-inspired touch is the faux rocks that offer tunnels to hide out in and crevices to climb. A balance beam takes the shape of a fallen tree trunk, and thick ropes strung between “rock” formations make for some junior Man on Wire moments.


Bridging the Age Gap
There are two distinct structures: one for bigger kids with all the requite fire polls, rope ladders, big slides and tall towers; and one for toddlers, with shallow steps, low railings, a sand table and climbing wall. But unlike many other playgrounds, these two spaces are situated near each other and connected with a lots of all-ages fun, such as the rock formations, a wide circular bench perfect for snack breaks, and just plenty of green turf to run around on.



The effect is more mingling of bigs and little, and more heartwarming instances of older kids helping out and teaching the younger ones (or simply learning to not run them clean over) and younger ones taking a few more risks after watching the seniors go for it.

raymond_kimball_playgorundThe Essentials: Sun, Snacks and Potty Breaks
As before, there is little shade offered at the playground or it’s surrounding area, which is outfitted with plenty of night tables, chairs and benches perfect for snack times (or time outs). So don’t forget the sunscreen, hats and water. We love to pick up sushi at Japantown’s Nijiya Market and bring a picnic over to the park. There is a spanking new restroom, but it’s not actually near the play structure—it’s on the corner of Ellis and Pierce streets on the far side of the newly renovated sports fields. Another playground essential? Swings. This one has plenty, for all sizes and abilities, so get ready to show off that pumping style.

Geary and Steiner Sts.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sfrecpark.org

Have you been to the new Raymond Kimball playground? What did you think?

—Erin Feher

All photos courtesy of the author