Thomas M. Menino Park is an inclusive playground located across the street from Spaulding Rehabilitation Center at 300 First Avenue, Charlestown, MA. The 15,000 square foot park is designed so that all abilities and ages can play alongside one another.
Before we get started, you should know that this is my unsolicited opinion and I was in no way compensated for writing this review.
Ranking for Thomas M. Menino Park, Charlestown, MA
|Fun for All Ages||5|
|Easy access to food, drink, and sunscreen||9|
|Would we go again?||10|
|Total score||42 out of 50|
Thomas M. Menino Park Features
- 4 slides
- Evos® climbing structure
- 2 swing sets
- 4 person see-saw
- Wheelchair accessible carousel
- Multiple sets of monkey bars
- Balance beams
- Music area
- Water table
- Small grassy area
- View of airplanes taking off from Logan airport
Our Experience at Thomas M. Menino Park
The playground is just past the visitor’s parking garage. Before you park there, check the 10 parking spots outside the entrance to Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. Those spots are reserved for playground goers and there are signs warning those who are visiting Spaulding not to park there. 10 parking spots may not seem like a lot of parking, especially when 2 of them are handicap spots, but I don’t think there were ever more than 10 or 15 kids on the playground at a time, so there’s a good chance you won’t have to wait very long to get a spot.
The welcome sign says the playground is made for 5 to 12-year-olds, but my 3.5-year-old had a blast there and we met a 2.5-year-old who was also having a ton of fun.
We arrived around 10:15 a.m. on a Saturday in July, when most playgrounds are packed, so I was shocked to only see 2 other families there. We were there for about 3 hours and it never got very busy.
The first thing that catches your eye when you walk in is the teeter-totter. Parents will love this one, as it’s made to go up and down without actually having to use your legs!
This was our first trip to an inclusive playground, and we immediately noticed some awesome differences from a regular playground, such as a wheelchair accessible carousel, a balance beam, and a wide variety of swings.
The climbing structure is a little advanced for a toddler, so we didn’t spend much time there. We did see some older kids playing on it later and it looked like they were having a blast.
The regular play structure has a bunch of bells and whistles (literally), with a music and drum section, a small gears section, a color changing wheel, a suspension bridge, a twisty slide, a roller slide, monkey bars, and this circular tube on the bottom that my kiddo calls his Superman cave.
There is a hilly area that also has a long roller slide and regular slide on it along with a climbing structure. My kiddo loved this area and spent a ton of time there.
But the fun really started around 11:30 when the sprinklers came on in the grassy area at the top of the playground. He and another little boy spent about 30 minutes chasing each other, which was a well-needed break for me!
There is also a station where you can spin a wheel to make water come out of a faucet and drip down a table. This is the only station that I saw kids argue over, and it happened several times.
I absolutely would have felt safe leaving the diaper bag unattended on one of the park benches, but since we parked so close I just left it in the car.
If you’re potty training, or just need to use the bathroom yourself, no problem! Just walk across the parking to Spaulding Rehabilitation Center and use their immaculate bathrooms. I asked first and the gentleman at the door said it was no problem. We are potty training, so we used their bathroom five times. I only wish they had a short potty and a short sink for toddlers. There is also a little cafe just past the bathrooms. We didn’t eat there, so I can’t speak to the quality of the food, but at least there is food and drink available if you need it. There is also a vending machine.
Pro tip #1: This is an inclusive playground that Spaulding uses to rehab some of their patients. That means your child may see other children or adults with disabilities and have questions, hard questions. Be prepared to have this kind of conversation with your child if they see someone different from themselves and don’t be afraid to ask those people if they want to play with you and your child. This playground is designed for people of all abilities to be able to play with one another.
Pro tip #2: If your kid likes to run through sprinklers, bring a towel or a change of clothes, or both.
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