Local Park and Playground Reviews

The Mom Squad talks about their favorite places to play in Campbell and beyond.

We LOVE going to parks with our kids! Parks are a great (and free) place to let the kids run and play, learn to share and take turns, try new things, and just be kids. We have our favorite “go to” parks that we frequent most often, but we also like to try out new parks.

Some parks are good for the younger ones, and some are better suited for “big kids”. Some have a neat feature like a great sand play area or a water feature, and some have issues like no parking or no bathrooms. So, we’ll give you the scoop on all the Campbell parks and some of our other favorites too.

Campbell Parks & Playgrounds:

Bethany: This park has a fenced toddler area, but not much inside it. There is no play structure, only a couple of baby swings, a sand pit, a big slide (built into to hillside), and a small green space. There is also a water feature, but every time we have been here it was out of order.

Outside of the toddler area there is a big kids play structure, (old school) merry-go-round, swings, another big slide, picnic tables, open green space, basketball courts, and access to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. There is a parking lot and bathrooms available.

Bethany: Great park with 2 playgrounds. The toddler area is partially fenced-in making it easier to keep track of your little ones. There is a big sand play area with a water feature to make sandcastles and such. During the summer months kids can enjoy running through the large water feature in the middle of the playground. The big hill has a paved path that goes round and round up to the top that's fun for kids to ride their bikes or trikes on. There is also a huge grassy area for picnics, soccer, kites, and bathrooms nearby. No parking lot, but lots of street parking available.

Nicole: This is my favorite park almost anywhere! My kids absolutely love this park and so do I. There is a toddler area and a big kid area but my 2 year old can tackle the big kid area. There are also 2 sandboxes and both are great. There is plenty of shade and grass to lay a blanket out and relax. My favorite part is the water feature in the summer. As soon as we get to the park I put my kids in a bathing suit and they stay in it the whole time! There are also very clean bathrooms which is a plus for anyone!

Bethany: This is another great walking distance park for us. It is important to note that this park has 2 different sides, each with it’s own playground. The 2 playgrounds are on opposite ends of the park separated by a large green space and redwood trees. We like to alternate between the Budd Ave side and the Rincon Ave side. Both offer very different playgrounds and features, so it’s fun to mix it up.

The Budd side has a huge big kids play structure as well as a toddler play structure set into the sand play area. There are also 4 baby swings and 4 regular swings, a teeter totter, a multi level wooden deck (great for little climbers), and lots of other fun features. There is a picnic area with lots of tables right next to the toddler area, bathrooms, and a good size parking lot.

The Rincon side has a great sand play area (similar to the one at Jack Fischer Park) that has a water spout and a couple of little playhouses, a (mostly) toddler friendly play structure, a cool pyramid shaped rope climbing structure, and a water play area (also similar to the one at Jack Fischer Park). There are no swings, but this side of the park has the baseball diamond. There are bathrooms and 2 parking lots. There is also a pedestrian walkway that goes from the park up and over San Tomas Expy and ends up on Virginia Ave where Bucknall Rd ends.

Nicole: This is a great park, although I’ve only been to the Budd Avenue side, I’ve heard great things about the Rincon side too! The toddler area is really fun and my daughter loves the sandbox. I also really love how much open grass space there is. We love to have picnics in the park and this makes a great place to lay out a blanket with the kids. The only negative I could say is that the big kid park and the toddler park are so close together (and the big kid park is REALLY big). If I was just bringing my daughter, this wouldn’t be a problem, but when you have a crawler/pre-walker and a toddler it can seem daunting to have to chase two kids. Otherwise, this park is great!

Bethany: We love this park! It is really close to our house, so we’re here a lot. The whole park is fenced in and toddler friendly. It’s pretty small, but it’s big enough for lots of kids to play. There are 2 swings (1 baby swing and 1 regular swing), a toddler friendly play structure with steps that go up to a little playhouse with a slide and a cool spider web to climb off to the side. (The only complaint I have about the play structure is that there is an opening for a pole to slide down right at the highest point. Most kids that know how to slide down a pole are probably too old to enjoy a toddler playground, so this makes no sense to me.)

There’s also a great sand pit with a water spout in it, a small grassy area in the shade of a big tree, a picnic table, and a cool path with the alphabet and numbers carved into it. (My 3 year-old daughter love this!) There is no parking lot, but lots of street parking available. Also no bathrooms, so we bring just in case.

Nicole: This is a great park! It’s a small gated park which I love (gates are great for 2 kids!). There is a great little play structure, swings, a great sandbox and a nice grass shaded grass area. We spend a lot of time at this park because its pretty close to us and it’s really convenient! There is no bathroom, but if you have a potty seat, you’re all set!

Bethany: This is Campbell’s newest park (just opened November 2011). It is located on Union Ave just blocks from the Pruneyard Shopping Center. There is no parking lot or street parking, only a drop-off zone so driving here can be tricky. I like to go the the Pruneyard for lunch and then walk over to the park.

The park is set back into the lot and is fenced on all sides but the front. This is great for letting kids run without the fear of them going into the street. The park was built on land that used to house a fruit drying business, so there are nods to the city’s history all around. The toddler friendly playground even has the look of our beloved Campbell water tower (cute!). There are 2 baby swings, but no regular swings for the bigger kids. There are some neat features here like a bridge over a dry creek, some really cool custom art, and play equipment made from recycled materials. There are also (very clean) bathrooms near the playground.

Bethany: This trail runs through Campbell Park and along the Percolation Ponds near Winchester. It’s a great place to take a walk with the kids (in or out of the stroller), go for a jog or a bike ride, or walk the dog. There are some pretty hardcore runners and bikers on this path at times, so be sure to keep a lookout and keep to the far right so that they can pass.

Bethany: This is a great place to go see the water and all the ducks and geese that come here. You can also go fishing (with the proper license of course) or take your dog to the enclosed dog park. There is a nice sized green space that is pretty popular for kite flying and picnics too. There is a parking lot as well as street parking and bathrooms are on site.

Bethany: Nice place to take a walk, but no playground. Great for dog owners and nature lovers alike. Street parking and bathrooms available.

Bethany: The garden is located next to Edith Morley Park and has many plots available on a year to year, first come - first served basis for a fee of $30.

Bethany: Located between the library and the Ainsley house, this large open green space has an outdoor amphitheater and benches. During the summer months you can catch the Campbell Summer Concert Series here on Thursday nights. Parking and bathrooms are nearby but not dedicated to the park.

Bethany: Very small park with a few benches along a tree lined path. Nice shaded spot to relax while walking the streets of downtown Campbell. There are no bathrooms or parking for this park.

Bethany: This park is considered a “pocket park”. It is located underneath the Campbell water tower, so that’s pretty cool. The only play structure is 2 swings (1 baby swing, and 1 regular swing) though, so not much for the kids to play on. It is somewhat enclosed by the landscaping and location and is located near downtown, so it’s a nice little break if you are out and about shopping for the day. No parking or bathrooms here.

Bethany: This is Campbell’s smallest park. It’s located on Winchester Blvd and has 2 benches, a winding path, native plants, and lots of shade from the large redwoods. There is no play structure, parking, or bathrooms.

Bethany: SO much to do here! There are different classes and events going on year-round at the Community Center and the Heritage Theatre. There is no playground, but there is a football stadium, athletic fields, an all-weather track, tennis and handball courts, a fitness zone, a year-round heated pool, and a really cool skate park. There is tons of parking and bathrooms are located inside the buildings and next to the track.

Other South Bay Parks & Playgrounds:

Bethany: Oak Meadow is located adjacent to Vassona Park. It has a huge play structure for the big kids, but also has a lot to offer for the smaller ones. There are swings, a fire truck and jet plane to climb on, a wooden train to climb in and on, and a small play structure with a (pretty steep) slide. There used to be a neat sand play area, but it has been removed. There are a ton of picnic tables and different picnic areas that you can reserve (but usually don’t need to), a huge open green space, and a big open pavillion where they have different events in the summer time.

On the other side of the big green space is the carousel and the train. The train runs across a bridge and into Vassona Park, then does a pretty big loop and ends back at the station. Kids love to watch the turntable at the end of the track where they turn the engine around for the next trip, and you are welcome to take a peek inside the shop where they keep and maintain the trains (you can’t go in, just look through the open doorway).

This park has bathrooms located near the carousel and a small parking lot. There is a $6 fee to park in the lot for non-residents though. We usually can find free street parking along University Ave and then walk down the hill into the park.

Nicole: This is a great park! The big play structure can be a doozy for little ones but they do have a toddler structure. They also have a big plane for kids to play on. The big draw for us is the train and the carousel! They have a little train that takes about a 10 min ride around the park and they also have a beautiful carousel, both for only $2 a rider.

Bethany: Love this park! There are 3 different play structures spaced apart, a huge sand pit, swings, slides, big open green space, lots of picnic tables, and great shade from all the surrounding trees. The toddler area has 2 slides built into the hillside, a great play structure, 2 baby swings, a bouncy/ rocking jet plane to sit on, and the sand pit nearby. There is no parking lot, but lots of street parking available. (On the weekends, when the preschool next door is closed, you can park in their lot. There are also bathrooms on site, but we usually just bring our travel potty since it’s a bit of a walk from the playground.

Nicole: This is one of our favorite parks! All the play structures are a nice size and my 2 year old can go on all of them (with a little help on the biggest one). There are plenty of swings and a nice big sandbox (although the sandbox always has a ton of leaves and twigs in it but my daughter doesn’t seem to mind, in fact she calls it digging for treasure). There is also a lot of shade and grass to have a picnic on. It’s a great place to spend the morning!

Saratoga Creek Park (San Jose)

Bethany: This park is kind of long and thin shaped and is located along Lawrence Expy (in the neighborhood behind the sound wall). It has 2 playgrounds with something for every age group. In between them is a sand play area with a play table in it. There are swings, lots of different slides, and fun things to climb on. Picnic tables and bathrooms are nearby. There are a fewsmall parking lots located along the length of this park as well as street parking in the neighborhood. The opposite end of the park has an enclosed dog park, so you will see many people walking dogs here (some off leash too).

Nicole: This is a little hidden gem! It’s tucked back in a nice neighborhood in San Jose. The play structures are really great and my daughter can tackle both pretty well (they have a toddler one and a big kid one). They have a great sandbox with a fun play structure actually in the sandbox. They also have bathrooms which is always a plus and generally they are pretty clean. Lots of grass, shade and picnic tables at this park too!

Lincoln Glen Park (San Jose)

Bethany: I like this park, but I just don’t love it. The toddler playground is nice, but the slides are always too hot. The sand pit is cool, but it is so deep that once a kid is in it they have to be helped back out again. There is a cute little playhouse, but it’s not level to the ground under it so kids have a hard time playing in it. I do like that the swings are really far away from the play structure (so that kids aren’t in danger of running in front of them and getting kicked). The whole toddler play area is fenced in, there is a water play feature, a “big kids” playground, and (semi-clean) bathrooms, but there is a major lack of shade at this park. It can get really hot really quickly here so we don’t like to stay too long.

Nicole: When I first came to this park I wasn’t a huge fan and I’m not really sure why because now I love it. The toddler park is gated, which is always a huge plus for me (we haven’t been to the big kid side so this is really just about the toddler park). The sandbox is pretty big and generally pretty clean. There is a small grass area with some shade as well as a little covered sheltered area with some benches. There are also bathrooms at this park, I haven’t been in them so I can’t attest to their cleanliness but we all know having bathrooms is a big plus!

Houge Park (San Jose)

Bethany: This park is great! There are 2 playgrounds (1 for toddlers and 1 for bigger kids), tennis court, jogging path, big open green spaces, and a fitness course. The toddler playground has a lot of fun features too. There is a bridge, slides, sand play area with it’s own small play structure in it (great for the really little ones!), swings, and a cool school bus sculpture to climb on.

The “big kids” playground is separated from the toddler playground by a picnic area with lots of tables and benches. It has 2 different play structures with all sorts of fun features. There are also lots of swings (8 I think). The park does have bathrooms, but they are not the cleanest. There is no parking lot, but lots of space to park on the street around the edges of the park.

Emma Prusch Farm Park (San Jose)

Bethany: I have only been to this park once and didn’t go to the playground (Claire was just learning to walk then). We did enjoy the animals and the big open spaces though. I loved the fact that it is free too! The only problem that we encountered was the aggressive geese and chickens that wander the property. Be aware that they are not shy and will follow you around, and will even sometimes chase you too.

Nicole: I really love this park. I haven’t been here in a while but we used to go all the time. My daughter absolutely loves the chickens and peacocks that wander around. I also love that they have a little farm area for the kids to see the animals (pigs, turkeys, etc). The big kid play structure is awesome. The toddler area isn’t great but it works! There is a lot of grass and plenty of picnic tables as well as bathrooms.

Parma Park/ Jake’s Tot Lot (San Jose)

Bethany: I went here once, but haven’t been back. I’m putting it on the list anyway though because it really is a great park, just has a few minor issues.

The “tot lot” is fenced in and has a great sand play area for the kids. Outside of the fence there is a water feature, swings, and a few picnic tables. We didn’t stay long though because there wasn’t much shade and it got hot pretty quickly. You can park along the street (but be careful as it has fast moving traffic and can be very busy), or you can park next door at the Almaden Branch Library and walk over.

Marijane Hamann Park (San Jose)

Nicole: We’ve been to this park a few times. I’ve only been in the toddler area so I can’t say anything about the big kid park. This park is good for quick trips, I wouldn’t spend the whole day there. The toddler area is gated which is nice, but there is no grass to sit on. It has a huge sandbox which my daughter loves and the play structure is pretty fun. There are bathrooms in this park and the swings are separate which I actually like. Sometimes this place can get overrun with middle school and high schoolers in the afternoon which can make things a little more hectic, just be aware of that (although we’ve been here in the afternoon and they pretty much stick to the big kid area).

Greater Bay Area Parks & Playgrounds:

Burton Park (San Carlos)

Nicole: I moved from San Mateo to Campbell not too long ago and Burton Park was our park of choice! We still go there on a fairly regular basis because we are in San Mateo once a week. It is a gorgeous park! There is a big kid playground and a gated toddler playground. There is a lot of grass, a lot of shade, a great water feature and both sandboxes are great! All in all it’s still probably one of my favorite parks to take my kids to!

Shoup Park (Los Altos)

Bethany: This is a great park for the warmer months since it is so shaded. There is a creek that runs behind the park, but is dry all summer. During the rainy months it is usually shallow enough to walk in (but please be careful!). There are 2 different playgrounds, swings, and a great sand play area. There is a parking lot and bathrooms too. It can be a little tricky to find the first time you go since it is set back into a neighborhood. Make sure you have good directions or GPS for this one.

Nicole: I’ve only been to this park a couple times but we had a great time both times! It’s hidden away from the street, very quiet, lots of shade and grass. There is a toddler playground and a big kid playground and while the toddler playground isn’t gated, the big kid playground is far enough away that you don’t have to worry about escapees. It is a really nice place to spend the day!

Rancho San Antonio (Los Altos)

Bethany: This is a HUGE park with lots of different trails (some paved, some not) to go walking, jogging, or biking on. Most of them are stroller friendly (we use our double jogger easily here). There is no playground, but my kids never seem to mind too much here. I recommend parking at the very last lot because it has bathrooms and some shady spots so your car won’t be as hot when you return.

You will also find Deer Hollow Farm here (about a mile long walk from the parking lot mentioned). It’s a great little farm with goats, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, sheep, and rabbits. They have a small stand where you can buy farm fresh eggs and seasonal produce. There is also a big open air pavillion with picnic tables inside. It makes for a great spot to stop and have lunch. There are bathrooms near the farm, but they are pretty gross.

Day-Trip Distance Parks & Playgrounds:

Dennis the Menace Playground (Monterey)

Bethany: This place is crazy awesome! There are lots of different play structures including slides built into the hillside, a big bridge over a slide made of rollers, a hedge maze, and lots more. It has been added onto through the years, so it’s kind of a hodge-podge of playgrounds. There is a parking lot as well as street parking, but both fill quickly on weekends. There are also bathrooms and a concession stand at the entrance.

There are some great parks and playgrounds out there to explore. We’d love to hear about your favorites too. Or, try a new one and tell us what you think!

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What are your favorite parks or playgrounds? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Wanda P. July 03, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Just this past week I went to Ryder Park in San Mateo, located at 1801 J. Hart Clinton Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401. I went there with my niece and her almost four-year old while they were in town for a few days. Great playground area, water feature, and bathrooms. There were a lot of moms and kids there, many of them seemed to be regulars, and all having a great time.
Bethany Curran July 07, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Thanks for sharing! I haven't been to this one, but sounds like a great new park to try out. Nicole moved to Campbell from San Mateo, so she may know it :)
MomSquad February 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Another favorite is Memorial Park in Cupertino. We call it the "Ducky Park" because the whole park is full of a series of lovely little duck ponds and footbridges. The playground is divided in two with one side for the smaller kids and one for the bigger kids. Neither one is a true toddler playground though, so you may want to keep that in mind if you have little ones. There are also swings, a gazebo on the duck pond, and lots of picnic areas as well as bathrooms.


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