free activities · hiking · museum · park · playground

The Ansonia Nature Center

I want to give my very first blog to the Ansonia Nature Center. We got to know this place in 2016 and we felt in love with it. Even though it’s not in the city of new haven, the drive to ansonia probably takes less than 20 minutes for most areas in new haven.

It has an awesome playground. It was built in 2016, and renovated in 2017 (in which they removed the cool hill slide). The playground is mostly made of wood, like a rise-up platform with wooden bridges connecting little chambers. It has a median sized tunnel slide, a cool spinning plate that can hold 5-6 kids, a sandbox, a tire swing. Kids from toddler to maybe 8 would have great fun here. It has several picnic tables and rows of benches to sit on. The only downside of the playground might be that the sandbox is the only place that is in the shade.


Although not being in the shade is not a problem for the center, because it has a whole building for playing inside! The nature center itself as a full bathroom, which is such a plus for some pregnant moms who are not fans of porta potties. The center has several resident animals, a very cool-looking owl, a bunny, a genie pig, a bird, several snakes, turtles, fish, bees (in a safe hive) etc. Kids can just walk in (during the center hours) and admire the animals. The center also has a play room with stuffed animals, a puppet show frame, and X-ray pictures, an activity room with books and crafts. All the stuff, unless they are reserved for some events, you can just walk in and play!


Let’s go back to the outside again. There is a little pond near the building, and once we saw many lazy turtles bathing under the sun. There is also a soccer field right next to the playground, which brought great entertainment for my kids’ birthday party in the pavilion right next to the field. (I was first disappointed that we couldn’t use the field, then I found out that the little kids rather watching the big kids play soccer).


And all the fun is free! (except the birthday parties). What’s more, the center does a lot of kids activities throughout the year. It even has a summer camp. You should really check out the website, which is constantly updated with new activities. And the website itself is very respectable in the modern tech world.

I just realized I never really took good pictures of the playground itself. So I’ll come back with some pictures.

free activities · park · playground

The Bassett Park in Hamden

The Basset Park is located a little bit deeper in Hamden, maybe a 10-15 minutes drive from new haven. I stumbled upon the park when I got lost on the way to the Rascals Gym to pick up my daughter. Then I saw this beautiful playground right next to the road. Then I started bring my daughter over after her camp for a picnic lunch in the park.

The playground is right next to the parking lot and right next to the street. The playground is really big, and stretched in a long way. It has a sandbox with many toys. Then it has a play-set for kids to climb and grab. It has a spinning rod. It also has a gazebo for sitting in.

Then you walk a few steps to go to the playground that is under the shade. Spread out over on the right side of the playground, it has 2 regular swings, 2 baby swings, and 1 tire swing. It has a low-monkey bar for toddler’s size.

I didn’t see the water fountain. But since I have only been there a couple times I could be wrong. Half of the playground is under the shade.


free activities · playground

The John P. Denicola Park in Hamden – a great playground in the shade

The playground located right next to the new haven – hamden border so it is easy to get to. We first noticed this playground when we were on the way to monkeyjoes. It was a playground covered by so much shade that I couldn’t even make out what was in it. A playground under shade is a huge deal for the summer. So we came back again and again.

The playground is large, and also completely fenced in. When you first get in, there is a little rope climbing challenge right in front of you. After you pass the challenge, you see the nice playground with wood chips covering the ground.

It has four swings, two rocking animals on spring, a chu-chu train for some kids to go in, and for most kids to go on top of. It has a big rock in the center of the playground, with the name of the park on it, and is also often used for kids to climb and sit on. It has a big rocking boat (with one broken bar as of summer of 2017). It also has a wooden play-set that has a draw-bridge, connecting to some monkey bars, rock climbing and slides.

The playground has lot of trees, which brought the shade. It is very spacious so kids can safely run around. My kids have made good friends in the playground. It does not have bathrooms. In 2016 I have seen porta potties, but not in 2017. It does have water fountain and free parking.


free activities · playground

The Ella B Scantlebury playground in new haven, next to Yale Health

We have been to the playground many times. Since it is conveniently located right next to the building of Yale Health on 55 lock street, it is much easier to convince the kids to pay a doctor’s visit. I had to look up its name today. Our family call it ‘the doctor’s playground’.

There might be street parking around, but most of the time I just parked in the garage of the doctor’s building. It is free for the first 90 minutes, or after 5pm.

It has all the features of a nice ordinary playground. It has 4 regular swings, 2 baby swings and 1 tire swing. (I don’t why I always count the swings. They are just so classic and forever loved by my kids). It has two play-set, one for big kids (5-12) and one for smaller kids (2-5), with the latter fenced in.

What is unordinary is that, during hot hot summer, it has a splash pad! I have seen splash pads in paid parks, but this one is completely free! It features water guns, water buckets, water spraying snakes, fountains, all the things you would see in a fun splash pad.

The playground also has a basket-ball field, large area of green, picnic tables and benches. It has a drinking fountain and is not in the shade. Bathrooms can be found in the doctor’s building.


free activities · playground

The playground in the Foote School– a wonder in the shade!

My friend living in Prospect Garden first introduced me to this playground. It belongs to the Foote School. I fell love with it immediately.

The playground is only open to the public when the school is not in session, like after hours or over the weekends or summer. When you get there, first there is a little wooden shed you can go through, then you are facing a wooden play-set that has slides, climbing rope, climbing rods, a barrel-tunnel like slide, a real tunnel slide, etc. The structure is also connected with a tree log path to test your balance. The whole thing is almost completely made of wood, and uses the natural wood color, so plain and so natural. Our family call it ‘the wooden playground’.


But the most eye-catching thing in the playground is the giant climbing structure. It has mesh wires covering the whole outside. And inside it has big lily-pad shaped platforms that rise up one after another. The kids climb in from the bottom of the structure, then climb upwards inside of it. It is so high up that it looks scary. Although with the mesh wire outside and the supports inside, there is no risk of falling. Such a great design!


If this one is too challenging, (like when my boy was 3), there is another smaller tower thing nearby. It has two ways of getting to the top layer. You could use the staircase in the middle of the tower, or you could climb and squeeze in the secret holes between the levels. I have never seen anything like those two climbing structures anywhere else!


The playground has 4 regular swings and one tire swing, a big spider web thing, a sandbox, and a decent sized green field. It even has a real boat, (got donated to the school at some point). What’s more precious, it has lots of shade! The big trees in the middle and around the playground give everybody a cool place to enjoy the summer. The only issue would be that, since it is not really a public playground, there is no bathrooms or water fountain.



free activities · playground

The Hannah’s Dream playground in East Shore Park

The Hannah’s Dream playground in the East Shore Park is one of the biggest playgrounds in New Haven. It was just renovated in 2017 (during which they fixed the cracked grounds and the beloved tire swing, and added a seesaw!).

The playground has a large play-set for 5-12 yrs. It has a long winding path that connects to slides, ladders, slopes, monkey bars, sliding pole, bells, you name it. It also has a small set for 2-5 yrs that looks a bit like the inside of a rocket ship. It has two baby swings, two regular flat-bottom swings, and two chair swings, and a tire swing. It has a large sandbox with metal diggers. This playground may be more ordinary compared to some of the others, but it has lots of space, and my kids had a lot of fun playing tag with kids they just met in the playground.



The playground is located in East Shore Park in New Haven right along the harbor. It is where the little leagues have their baseball trainings and games. The park also has several soccer fields, tennis courts, huge open spaces, and narrow rocky beaches.The park has huge grass fields. It is very relaxing to just go in the park and walk around. Although kids always want to end up in the playground even though they have been there many times. (And they always want an ice-cream whenever the ice-cream truck is there).


The playground has a water fountain that features three faucets, one for filling the bottle, one for drinking, and for one filling bowls of water for dogs! It has porta potties during the summer.

It doesn’t have much shade, so make sure to bring sunscreen on summer days.


free activities · playground

The Pease Place Playground in Woodbridge – the rocket ship!

This is another playground that is sort of out of the way for New Haven residents, maybe a 20 minute drive? Although you do not want to miss this playground. It was built in 2015. It still looked brand new last time we checked in 06/2017. I learned about this place from another mom’s blog, the big list of Connecticut playgrounds. (I have been trying to go to the ones on the list, but some are really far from here.)

Have you seen the biggest (tunnel) slide ever, which is built on top of a gigantic rocket ship? My jaw almost fell off when I saw it. The playground was so new and so modern! Besides the giant rocket ship that all kids are climbing, it also has a super large climbing rope pyramid, which is even bigger than the one in Bodie’s playground in Milford. My boy was finally able to get to the top when he was a bit over 5. The rocket ship has stairs and a ladder, so my daughter at 2.5 was able to get to the top. (Although getting down the slide took some peer-pressure magic.)

The playground has 5 regular swings, 1 chair swing, 2 baby swings, and a tire swing. It has a big play-set for 5-12 yrs, which centers the rocket ship, but also has connecting other climbing paths and structures to it, and other smaller slides. It also has a small play-set for 2-5 yrs. In addition, it has a bouncy stripe pathway, a small basket ball field, picnic tables, some metal drum type of thing for making music, and a gigantic soccer field. Most of the time we went there the field was empty, so kids could run around and climb on a big rock next to it.


It has water fountain, and porta potties. The only downside of the playground is that, you don’t want to go on a hot hot summer day because there is no shade except a small square space in the middle of the playground, with the music instruments.