When we think of playgrounds for toddlers we think of one key thing FENCES. Anything else is pretty much a bonus! We also look for tot-accessible play equipment, toilets, soft-fall surfaces and, even better, a nice shaded space. These things are not always possible to find (why don’t ALL playgrounds have fences ALL the way around?!), but the parks we’ve included on this list are sure to give you – and your kids – a day of fun. You’ll find these parks scattered across the Central Coast – from Patonga to Berkeley Vale. We’d love to find a few more must-visit ones in the northern suburbs of the Coast: share your faves with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Without further ado, here, in no particular order, are 10 fabulous toddler parks on the Central Coast.
PS. You’ll find a map of all of these parks at the end of this feature. We recommend you bookmark this page, so you can refer to it whenever you’re wondering, “Where should we go today?”
1. Patonga Camping Ground Playground, Brisbane Water National Park
This is one of those fabulous parks that has been a bit of a local secret. During school holidays it’s busy with bare-foot campers, but mid-week during term time you’re likely to get the place all to yourself. Yes, it’s located within the camp ground, but it’s part of Brisbane Waters National Park and everyone is welcome to use this beautiful space (we rang the camp ground to triple check this point).
This space has BBQ facilities, sheltered tables, a large grassed area perfect for both picnicking and cricket, toilets, and – wait for it – coffee! The camp-ground reception doubles as a kiosk, and they have an espresso machine and Piazza D’Oro Sustainable Original beans. Everyone cheer! They also sell ice-creams, lollies and other special-treat items, and if you forget lunch they’ll put a pie or sausage roll in the oven for you. Just make sure you order ahead of the “I’m hungry” whinges, as they don’t have them heated in advance, so it’s a good 20 minutes before they’re ready (yes, it’s a wait, but it means you don’t get a crisp dried-out pie, so that’s a positive in our books).
The park isn’t fenced, but it’s a good distance to the road, and within the camp ground everyone is supposed to drive very slowly. The park is partly shade-clothed and the climbing frame is shaded by the trees in the morning. Young tots will love the wooden pirate ship, swings, slippery dips (there are three!), bridge and sand.
Patonga Camping Ground Playground
What we love: Everything – toilets, BBQs, playground and coffee – are all within 50m of each other.
What we wish we could change: The shade cloths could be extended to cover more of the play equipment.
Camp-ground Kiosk Hours: Every day 8am-4pm. The coffee machine is switched off at 3.30pm.
Location: The end of Bay Street, Patonga.
2. The Rotary Park and Parklife Coffee Kiosk, Terrigal
Terrigal’s new Rotary Park playground, which opened in December 2017, looks set to become a firm Coastie favourite. It ticks so many things on our wish list. It has BBQ facilities, sheltered picnic tables, easy parking, and it has a kiosk located INSIDE the fenced play area.
The fenced off play area is huge and includes a large grassed area as well as the playgrounds. The beautiful wooden ship begs pirates of all ages to walk its plank, play peek a boo from its port hole and to man the wheel across the seas.
The play equipment includes flying fox, round-about, toddler play set, swings, an expression swing, group swing and a large play structure complete with bouldering wall, slippery dip and rope climbs.
The Parklife kiosk sells single origin coffee, Mr Goaty gelato and healthy snacks. You can borrow cushions and picnic rugs from the cafe – which is great for mothers groups with babes who aren’t yet on the move. They also have a mini toy library from which tots can borrow diggers, spades, balls and the like.
The Rotary Park and Parklife Coffee Kiosk, Terrigal
What we love: You don’t even have to leave the fenced play area to order your coffee!
What we wish we could change: There is no shade over the play equipment, so it gets super hot in summer. Supervising carers can retreat to the sheltered tables, covered Marine Centre balcony or paperbarks for shade, but you best lather the kids in sun cream first.
Parklife Pop-up Coffee Kiosk Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-2pm.
Location: 11 Terrigal Drive, Terrigal.
3. The Peninsula Recreation Precinct, Umina
This park has everything! It has a fenced and shaded playground for toddlers. It has multiple playgrounds. It has a bike and scooter track plus a dirt-bike track. It has barbecues, sheltered picnic tables and toilet facilities. It has a restaurant and a kiosk! And it’s opposite the beach, so you can tie your park play in with a swim. Like we said, it has everything!
The toddler area is one giant sandpit. The rope net and sandstone blocks will attract littlies keen to perfect their balancing skills, while the cubby house and pirate ship invite hours of imaginative play. There’s also a swing set, a rocking whale and a slippery dip – and it’s all under the cover of multiple shadecloths and trees.
Jasmine Greens Kiosk is conveniently located just outside the fenced toddler area, so you can still watch over your kids while you order a coffee. You’ll find a menu with a lean to the healthy, such as vegan bean nachos and activated umeboshi rice balls, but there’s also baklava, gelato and, of course, coffee. We love the slinky apples for kids.
The Peninsula Recreation Precinct, Umina
What we love: The multiple play spaces mean toddlers don’t have to compete with older kids for time on the equipment.
What we wish we could change: Hmmm, this place pretty well has it all.
Food: Jasmine Greens Kiosk is open daily from 7.30am-4pm (closed on New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.).
Location: The corner of Sydney Avenue and The Esplanade in Umina.
4. The Liberty Playground at Saltwater Creek Reserve, Long Jetty
If you’re looking for a shaded and fully fenced park aimed at toddlers this one is a real winner. The ground is soft-fall and sand, so they won’t be getting covered in dirt. They will, of course, get covered in sand, but that’s kind of the idea of this place. Tots are encouraged to tip sand onto spinning wheels, to fling it onto a conveyor belt and to dig, dig, dig. We recommend you bring some spades and buckets to avoid constant reprimands to “share”.
The space is also equipped with toddler swings, a slippery dip, a set of drums to bash and a Liberty Swing for children in wheelchairs.
BBQ facilities and picnic tables are close by, so it can get a little busy with kids parties on weekends.
The Liberty Playground at Saltwater Creek Reserve, Long Jetty
What we love: It’s super easy to supervise your kids here.
What we wish we could change: Don’t forget your snack packs. You won’t find any food or coffee shops near here.
Location: Cnr Central Coast Highway and Tuggerah Parade, Long Jetty.
5. Bateau Bay Community Hall Playground
Tree-covered parks are few and far between, so we were very excited to find this fully fenced toddler park nestled beneath gums in Bateau Bay. Shade cloths are wonderful, but nothing beats the shade of a canopy of trees.
The equipment here is very much aimed at tiny tots. Kids even as young as four will tire of it pretty quickly, and that’s exactly why it makes our list. There are so few playgrounds that cater solely to kids 3 and under. This is a space you can bring little ones knowing they shouldn’t get trampled by older, bolder and far more energetic big kids.
Bateau Bay Community Hall Playground
What we love: It’s a park purely for tiny tots.
What we wish we could change: Council, please unlock the toilets and make them available for everyone.
Location: Corner of Rushby St & Bateau Bay Rd, Bateau Bay.
6. Bushlands Reserve Playground and Bike Track, Springfield
This is one of those parks that defies ALL the rules. It doesn’t have anything from our wish list. It doesn’t have toilets or shade, or fencing or food. It’s neither shiny and new nor natural and imaginative. It’s just a hell of a lot of fun and our kids LOVE it. Why? For one very simple reason: it has the LONGEST slippery dip on the Central Coast.
Hold onto your pants, cause this slide gives you a rip roaring ride. Many children have been launched off its end, only to land with a thud, giggle and then race to the top to do it again. And again. And again.
The toddler bike track here is also a bit of a winner. It’s a simple figure 8 with a few small obstacles, so it’s perfect for kids who are learning.
Bushlands Reserve Playground, Springfield
What we love: Watching the sheer joy our kids get as they zoom down the slide.
What we wish we could change: Ummm, where do we start? Some shade would be lovely. A toilet block would be fab. This park is great in terms of equipment: they just forgot about everything else.
Location: 7 Bushlands Ave, Springfield (corner of Bushlands Avenue and Springfield Road).
7. Vera’s Water Garden and the Entrance Foreshore
The Entrance foreshore is far more than a park: it’s more like a mini carnival for kids. We can happily spend an entire day here flitting from one free play space to the next.
Vera’s Water Garden is the real drawcard and we wish, wish, wish there were more public water fountains and pools such as this on the Central Coast. The colourful statues, spurting fountains and shin-deep water make it the perfect toddler pool and it’s always packed with giggling cherubs on hot summer days. Update 20 Feb 2018: This fountain is currently closed until further notice as it’s undergoing maintenance.
Once the kids have cooled off they’ll be eager to hit up the playground. There are two play areas along the waterfront. One is located between the water fountain and permanent carnival area (the one with the historic carousel) and includes a couple of climbing frames, round-a-bout and – what your toddler will really love – four in-ground mini trampolines.
The second play area is located on the other side of Memorial Park – next to The Entrance Visitor Centre. This playground isn’t one we’d recommend on it’s own as it’s pretty basic and unshaded, but when tied in with the other activities, it adds to the day’s adventure. It is fenced, so that’s a bonus.
And to round out the day, head to Pelican Plaza for the pelican feeding. It happens daily at 3.30pm.
Vera’s Water Garden and The Entrance Foreshore Playgrounds
What we love:Vera’s Water Garden is summer fun at its best.
What we wish we could change: A sun shade on the toddler park would be great – that place is baking.
Location: The Entrance foreshore.
8. Avoca Beach Playground
The Avoca Beach Playground gets top points for its location: directly behind the Avoca Beach Surf Club and literally a tip toe to the sand. This place is ideal for toddlers as it provides an opportunity to play and swim without having to shift the car.
The playground is fully fenced and has soft-fall ground cover and sand as a base. The little yellow dinghy is a massive highlight for little ones, as is the excavator; though, it takes a lot of strength and coordination to move the excavator’s levers and you’ll find that you’ll do most of the lifting.
Carers can grab a coffee or bite to eat from the surf club, cafe or fish shop, and you can all enjoy a dip in the rockpool. Public toilets can be found just opposite the playground.
Avoca Beach Playground
What we love: We can combine a swim AND a play.
What we wish we could change: A little more shade would be great. It gets super hot! Luckily the ocean is there to cool everyone down.
Location: Behind Avoca Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Vale Ave, Avoca.
9. The Wairakei Road Playground at Wamberal
This park is surrounded by mature gums, which makes it an excellent option in summer when most other playgrounds are baking in the heat. Most of it is fenced, so it’s tops if you have a child who likes to do a runner.
The equipment is suitable for toddlers, so parents can take up a spot on the grass or at one of the surrounding picnic tables knowing that the kids can happily amuse themselves. This is a popular spot for mothers groups mid-week and kids birthday parties come the weekend.
Wairakei Road Playground at Wamberal
What we love: It has natural shade and grass, which makes it lovely for supervising carers.
What we wish we could change: There are no food or coffee options within cooee of here, so come pre-caffeinated and bring snacks.
Location: 25 Wairakei Rd, Wamberal.
10. Kurraba Oval Park, Berkeley Vale
The Kurraba Oval Park was given a makeover in June 2017, and we were pretty excited by its reveal.
It’s fenced along the road and open to the oval, so it feels like a safe space for your kids to play. The ground cover is predominantly soft-fall rubber, so your kids won’t get banged up or mulch in their sandals: high five, Central Coast Council, for that.
There are swings, slippery dips, coloured peek-a-boo windows and a little bike/scooter path. Adults can escape the heat and retreat to the large shelter, but the play equipment is very exposed, so don’t forget your hats and sunnies. We loved the small natural zone of rocks and logs to balance on and the gorgeous sculptural wombat that kids are invited to climb on and cuddle.
Kurraba Oval Park
What we love: There are lots of different structures to play on.
What we wish we could change: This place gets sooooo hot! Like fry-an-egg-on-the-slippery-dip hot! Why, oh why, didn’t the powers that be put shade cloths over the play equipment?
Location: Kurraba Oval, Berkeley Vale. (The park is located at the end of Kareelah Avenue.)
We’d like to find a few more parks up the northern end of the Central Coast. If you know of a great park we should include, please let us know about it: email@example.com