Collin County maintains a stout reputation as one of the DFW metroplex’s most family-friendly sectors and the region’s plethora of amazing playgrounds and parks make it easy to see why. Happily, December brings with it a holiday break from academic schedules while Texas’ mild winter weather is sure to produce more than a few sunny afternoons, so it’s prime time for new residents and visitors to don their adventure hats and schedule some outdoor family excursions.
Here are a few playground treasures worth visiting and exploring.
An enormous, colorful kidMania playground found at Allen’s 104-acre Celebration Park spans an acre of its own and is said to be the largest handicap-accessible playground in Texas. Amenities include a covered pavilion, BBQs and picnic tables, hike and bike trails, lighted tennis courts, soccer fields and swings. Since it’s all connected, parents would do well to have their running shoes at-the ready. Future note: the water jets at kidMania’s adjacent sprayground provide splashy fun May through October, every day except Wednesday. 214-509-4700; 701 Angel Parkway, Allen.
On the Prosper side of the border between Prosper and Celina, Frontier Park spans almost 80 acres and features a clever Windmill playground with an assortment of kid-friendly playhouses (all named after local businesses). There’s also a ropes course, ladder-climbing fun, a half-mile trail and a large covered picnic area. Ongoing improvements to Frontier Park North are adding a new hike and bike trail plus a pavilion and pedestrian bridge, additional baseball/softball fields and two multipurpose lighted fields. 972-346-3502;1551 Frontier Parkway, Prosper.
Currently Frisco’s most expansive playground, the Hope Playground in Frisco Commons has proximity to the park’ pond and nature garden as well as a Veteran’s Memorial and paved one-mile walking trail. With three sections targeted to different age groups, it keeps itty-bitties from getting trampled by bigger kids and is also handicap-accessible. A sprayground draws crowds in the spring and summer and an expansive pavilion and picnic areas encourage picnicking year-round. 972-292-5000; 8000 McKinney Road, Frisco.
While this Plano park has an attractive gazebo and enough essential playground elements to keep youngsters engaged, the Interurban Railway Museum located within the park is its biggest draw. Celebrating the Texas Electric Railway with hands-on electric displays, it’s open Mondays through Saturdays and offers guided tours in which kids are offered an opportunity to “drive” the car. 972-941-2117; 901 E. 15th Street, Plano.
A trip to Wylie makes perfect sense when the destination is Pirate Cove Playground and its giant “pirate ship.” Founders Park’s sprawling attraction is located in the center of the park and entails castle towers, an abundance of climbing features and 13 slides. The “ship” portion rests at one end of the structure and other novelties include musical chimes and a sandbox. A 5-and-under area scales things down for the smaller set, and parents easily keep an eye on things from benches or an adjacent shaded area. 214-943-8900; 851 Hensley Lane, Wylie.
The Village Depot
Moms of preschoolers tend to rave about this play area because of the safety feature of having one way in and one way out, but younger visitors will hone in on the four little play houses, a hedged maze in the shape of Texas, and the Village Express Caboose — an authentic red caboose which is also available for party rentals. Rather than a park location, The unusual play area is nestled within The Village at Allen, a popular shopping destination, which means refreshments and retail therapy are additional conveniences. 972-678-4939; 190 Stacy Road, Allen.