The Woodland Park Nature Reserve offers more than 60 acres of woodland with hiking trails, ponds, wildlife galore, and more, with a main entrance and parking off of Middlesex Road between Hollow Tree Ridge Rd and Hoyt Streets. It’s a woodsy oasis that is lovely to wander through – especially with a dog (on-leash, of course) – ANY day, but today was especially fulfilling thanks to the Book Walk!
When it comes to playgrounds in Darien, your neighborhood school playground is an often overlooked but always great option for weekend fun (you obviously can’t use them during school hours). The Hindley School playground actually has 3 different playgrounds (not to mention a huge field for ball-kicking and lots of swings!)
In the front of the school, there is a smaller, sandy playground that includes a play structure with slides, a fun, 4-person “driving” structure (which you actually can’t see very well in the picture below, I’ll try to snap another one soon), and a very large sandbox.
At the way back of the school there is what is clearly a “big kid” playground, complete with a play structure that includes different slides, monkey bars, a climbing wall and other fun design elements. There are “big kid” swings and even a climbing-rope-web-thingy (below right).
The other nice thing about school playgrounds is that there is always some good blacktop space, so you can bring the bikes and roller blades if you’re so inclined. This playground also has a backboard, which I used to use growing up for tennis practice.
Based on what I’ve seen during my playground investigation to date, this little playground tucked away off the beaten path behind Darien’s Little League fields is second only to Cherry Lawn. It’s clean, was built in 2003, has 2 playgyms, each of which offers fun activities and slides, a swingset with baby swings, and a feature that I think is really cool on a playground: rubberized safety surfacing, which is a special kind of “flooring” that is soft and has a lot of give to it. In addition to making the playground fully handicapped accessible and meeting ASTM standardsas well as numerous other playground safety certifications by dramatically reducing the “owie” factor of trips and falls, this also means no sand in shoes or socks and no wood chips mysteriously finding their way into underwear or jammed up pant legs.
Growing up in Darien, Weed Beach was always my favorite of the 2 public beaches because there is just so much to DO there. You would hardly know you were driving up to a beach because of the rolling hills and wooded park and tennis courts you pass through before even reaching the beach parking lot — there’s even a tiny playground back in the woods — and I personally think that combination of park with beach is really neat.