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The Best Playgrounds of 2022


Each year, the team at Cunningham Recreation continues to be impressed with the custom playgrounds that are built across the country. Every time we see a new playground or play space installed in a community, we can’t help but smile, as we know that kids of all ages and abilities will have a safe space where they can run, play and explore. In the process, kids develop confidence and self-esteem, enhance their social skills and enjoy multisensory experiences.

While each playground is unique in its own way, here are some of the best playgrounds we’ve seen over the past year. If you live near one of them, be sure to pay a visit! You will not be disappointed!

Jolley Park Inclusive Playground – Morristown, TN

Twenty years ago, Joyce Jolley and her husband Gene traveled to Virginia Beach, VA where they discovered a park designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Gene, a successful business person from Morristown, envisioned a playground of the same sort in his hometown.

When Gene sadly passed away in 2021, Joyce honored his memory by building such a park. She approached the city council and presented her idea for an all-inclusive park that was open to everyone, yet specifically designed for children with disabilities. Her proposal included a state-of-the-art GameTime inclusive playground, accessible restrooms, parking and shelter areas.

First United Methodist Church – Fort Worth, TX

This playground project was part of an expansion for the Day School to double classroom capacity and accommodate an influx of students. Working with Dunaway Associates, this colorful and fun area was completed in mid-summer 2022.

The play space features two swings areas, shade, a Trike Track and exciting structures designed for children who are in the 2-5 age group. The goal was to create a fun and creative place for the kids to release their energy. All safety surfacing is poured-in-place and follows a colorful theme.

Sunset Woods Park - Highland Park, IL

Sunset Woods Park is the flagship park of the Highland Park Park District. This is the third generation rocket ship at this location. The rocket ship design was a joint effort between Hitchcock Design Group and the Landmark Design team at GameTime.

The custom Altus Tower rocket ship structure is 45’ tall and has a command center with astronaut voiceovers and rocket ship sounds, providing an interactive experience. The main rocket is connected with a bridge that goes to the main thruster and also has a Crane spinner for added play value.

Two sets of talk tubes connect the ground to the top of the tower and from the Command Center to the main tower. The poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing has black and white clouds directly below the rocket to resemble takeoff smoke. There are also stars in the rubber and a shooting star at the base of the slide.

University of Tarleton Child Development Center – Stephenville, TX

GameTime worked with Heather McMillan, Assistant Director of Design, Planning and Construction, Campus Operations to recreate this play space design. The bubble bee nature theme coordinates with the schematics of the interior that was designed by Huckabee Architects. The area consists of an age-appropriate play structure, harmonic chimes, bee fun facts, GFRC bee, nature bench, leaf bench and preschool picnic table covered by a cantilever shade.

Oglesby Park – Foristell, MO

Oglesby Park is located in St. Charles County, MO. The park playground is a fantastic design concept that incorporates a large custom net climber and separate play areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12. The net climber is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Both play structures are partially ramped and include slides, climbers and other fun play components with timber slats and a natural color palette, blending in beautifully with the natural surroundings. Both areas also include freestanding sensory play items and swings. The overall design utilized engineered wood fiber safety surfacing (EWF) to maximize the budget.

Saul Alexander Park – Summerville, SC

Saul Alexander Park uses a playful landscape approach to their playground design. The GameTime Powerscape play structure uses timber slats and has a treehouse/nature theme. The playground design includes the new GameTime Playful Landscapes Mesas and Dunes.

Playful Landscapes Mesas and Dunes are preconfigured hills assembled on the playground. The patent-pending design makes it easy to add one or more hills for children to climb and explore. The playground also includes spheres, swings, climbers and is completed with poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing.

2022 was an exciting year for playgrounds across the country! We can’t wait to see what 2023 will bring. If you’re interested in learning more about building a playground in your community, set up a time to speak with Cunningham Recreation!