14 Themed Playgrounds in NJ that Take Fun to New Heights
Now that playground season has arrived, it’s time to pack your sunscreen, hats, and bottled water and head to the park. If you’re looking for some new options to captivate your kids, both young and old, choose an outdoor play space with a cool theme to keep them entertained. From a supersized sailing ship to an entire wooden village for tots, these unique playgrounds go beyond the usual swings and slides.
For more ideas, check out our Guide to Playgrounds & Parks in New Jersey.
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1. Castle Playground – Hopewell Borough Park, Hopewell
Kids will have a royally good time at this medieval-inspired playground. They can use their imaginations to storm the castle as they climb, jump, and swing around. And if they’re trying to elude the bad guys, a quick escape down the slide leaves them victorious.
2. Cherry Blossom Playground – Branch Brook Park, Newark
In a tribute to Branch Brook Park’s popular Cherry Blossom Festival, this playground boasts a cherry blossom theme. Nature-inspired play structures include a treehouse, animal sculptures, and a nature discovery table, plus vine, conifer, cloverleaf, and river rock climbers. Find the playground near the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center.
Hop aboard a DC-8 and pilot a plane at Ed Brown Playground.
3. Ed Brown Playground – MacLearie Park, Belmar
Transportation is the theme of this all-inclusive play area. Kids can explore a re-created DC-8 and take turns piloting the plane. They love sliding down from the top of the control tower and climbing a sculpture of stacked suitcases. Little kids have a train of their own to conduct.
4. Castle Playground – Shunpike Park, Chatham
Another pick for the princesses and knights in your brood. Let their imaginations run wild as they explore this fairytale of a playground. There are plenty of slides, bridges, rock walls, swings, and horse bouncers to keep your little one busy. There's also a large spiderweb climbing net and a large rock to conquer!
5. Community Playground of Montville – Montville
It's always the perfect day to play farm at the Community Playground of Montville. The main barn-themed structure has several slides and things to climb, and there's are also shorter, activity-filled sections for younger kids. Don't miss the spinners, one of which has a rope climber on top!
6. Windward Beach Park – Brick
This treehouse-themed playground has kids feeling like they're up in the sky, with a spiral tube slide, tree mazes, wormhole climbers, swings, and more. There's even a "tree" at the heart of the playground structure.
KidStreet Playground offers fun for even the most intrepid adventurers. Photo by Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner
7. KidStreet – Bridgewater
You’ll find lots of wooden structures and rubber tires throughout this impressive play village. There’s a fire station, police station, and jail to tickle kids’ imaginations. There are also airplane, ship, and car structures to explore. And if that’s not enough, there’s always swinging, sliding, and even zip-lining.
8. Farm Playground – Cedar Grove Park, Cedar Grove
Take a trip to the farm at this bucolic-themed playground. A bi-level barn structure keeps kids in the shade on hot days, as do misters over shaded benches. Sweeping valley views to the east relax visitors. There are oversized pig and cow statues for kids to climb, and little ones can pretend to operate a mini tractor.
9. Fort Medford Playground – Bob Meyer Memorial Park, Medford
If your family is more about forts than castles, this Native American reservation-inspired play area will wow them. Check out the totem poles, tents, and other creative Native American details. A handicap-accessible playground is adjacent to this play area.
10. Gunnell Oval Playground – Kearney
This newly renovated playground delights young sports fans, especially little baseball lovers! The sports-themed Gunnell Oval Playground has giant baseball bats all around the main play structure, slides, a standing seesaw, saucer swings, tunnels, a larger-than-life baseball bat bridge to climb, and a huge baseball mitt to run and bounce over.
Not only does Tony's Place have a cool theme, but it's also universally accessible.
11. Tony’s Place Playground – Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch
It’s only natural that a beach-side playground offers an ocean-themed place to romp. But the seal statues, shoreline-inspired surface, boat structure, sea-cave-like rock structures, and fishing shack take this universally accessible play area to the next level.
12. Imagination Kingdom – Pemberton
Be a princess, dragon, or brave knight at the Imagination Kingdom, which features a large castle structure with slides and climbers. Saddle up and go for a ride on the horse-inspired seesaws or scale the climbing walls and swings.
13. Regatta Playground – South Mountain Recreation Complex, West Orange
This waterside play area has a grand sailing vessel as its anchor. Beneath the towering masts, kids can climb rock walls, zip down slides, and peer through telescopes. There’s a mini boat for smaller kids to enjoy, too. Parents can relax in one of the Adirondack chairs skirting the playground while kids peek through portholes to say hi.
14. Treehouse Playground – Timber Creek Park, Gloucester Township
Head to the back of the park, where a wooded trail leads to a small play area created of faux trees. Climb a stack of logs to a platform that has a thick trunk growing through, then slide down a hollowed-out half-log. There are also rocks and ropes to tackle and a slide pole.
This post, originally published in 2018, has since been updated.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the parks