As we emerge from this past winter, during which we hibernated like no other, families may be looking for some new outdoor activities. Luckily, while we were hiding away like sleepy bears, the Anne Arundel County Parks & Recreation department was hard at work updating the playgrounds at some of the county’s favorite parks: Downs Park and Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena, and Kinder Farm Park in Millersville. These parks now offer spectacular new playground equipment for kids of all ages. My kids (ages 2, 4, and 6) were all too pleased to tag along while I researched these awesome new playgrounds.


Brand new playscape at lake Waterford.

Take a spin on the zipline swing or climb aboard the new playscape at Lake Waterford Park.
Image courtesy of Jeanne Fryer.


Lake Waterford Park

830 Pasadena Rd, Pasadena, MD 21122

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to dusk

No entrance fee


Lake Waterford is a lovely, sprawling park of 108 acres, including a 12-acre lake. Besides the playground, this park offers athletic fields (including adaptive fields), fishing, walking trails, and tennis and basketball courts.


The playground has been completely overhauled with all new equipment. I love the design of this park because the playground is nestled into the center of a large, wooded picnic area. There are lots of tables that are spread apart enough to give some privacy for each group, but all with a view of the playground.


Captain swingset at Lake Waterford Park.

'Captain Swingset' explores the musical instruments with granddad. The music adds a joyful, calming element to
the already lovely surroundings. Image courtesy of the author.


The new equipment gives kids lots of options—from the standard climb-and-slide equipment to pieces I’ve never seen before like the 20-foot zipline swing built for two and the bells and drums of the (permanent) music-making area. But who am I to review a playground? Let’s hear it from the experts (who have each chosen a playground superhero name):


Sliderman (age 4): “My favorite was the slides that looked like a shark.” (It’s true…for some reason, each slide is designed to look like the child slides out of a shark mouth.)


Take a spin on the zipline swing at Lake Waterford. Image courtesy of the author.

Take a spin on the zipline swing at Lake Waterford.
Image courtesy of the author.


The Incredible Climbing Hulk (age 6): “I liked the big swing thing, that it went super high back and forth.” (zip-line swing)


Captain Swingset (age 2): (Still working on sentences so this is mom’s best guess—) “My favorite was the grown-up and kid swing. I liked swinging with me and daddy both on the swing.”


A treehouse climbing structure complete with suspension bridge at kinder farm.

The treehouse climbing structure was a favorite amongst our test panel.
So many ways to climb! Image courtesy of the author.


Kinder Farm Park

1001 Kinder Farm Park Rd, Millersville, MD 21108

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to dusk

$6 entrance fee per vehicle, or $30 annual pass (cash or check)


Kinder Farm Park is always a favorite for families to visit the animals and take in a picnic or a hike. But the playground is the real star of the show, now more than ever. Kinder Farm Park is 288 acres and home to two playgrounds- the “tot lot” which is accessible from Kinder Road, but the renovated playground is in the heart of the park, adjacent to the barns and pavilions.


A playscape that looks like a tractor at Kinder Farm park.

A classic climb-and-slide structure at Kinder Park, with some innovative new twists! Image courtesy of Jeanne Fryer.
Image courtesy of Jeanne Fryer.


The renovation replaced all previous equipment but kept the multi-tiered design of the old playground. Kids can now slide their way between levels in wider, open slides. There are 6 swings on the lowest level, including bucket swings and high-backed adaptive swings. The next level contains a spiderweb-looking rope climber piece and next to that is a climbing contraption with ropes and ladders that reminds me of a treehouse. The highest tier has a more traditional climb and slide structure, as well as a Snoopy-inspired dog house slide for the littler ones.


Sliderman: “The best thing I like is that I made a friend. But I also liked being a ninja on the climber thing.”

The Incredible Climbing Hulk: “It was fun climbing on the big climber thing, there was a lot to climb on.”

Captain Swingset: “I liked the Snoopy house because I could hide in it and climb it all by myself. I liked the drums, too.”


A child climbs a play structure at Kinder Farm.

Sliderman can climb anything at Kinder Farm Park!
Image courtesy of the author.


Downs Park

8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122

Hours: 7:00 a.m. to dusk

$6 entrance fee per vehicle, or $30 annual pass (cash or check)


The Downs renovation was completed between December 2020-February 2021, and again features all new equipment. Downs Park also offers nature trails, a dog beach, basketball and handball courts, pavilion space, and a public fishing pier.


Park sign to Downs Park

Visit Downs Park any day between 7:00 a.m. and dusk.
Image courtesy of Jeanne Fryer.


The new equipment includes a swing set (with adaptive and bucket seats), climbing hexagons, a giant balance board, and two large structures with multiple slides each. The smaller structure is better for the younger kids, about ages 2-8, while the lofty second structure is probably more suited for the older, braver set to climb.


Sliderman: “I liked going in the green block things. We were racing to the top.”

The Incredible Climbing Hulk: “The balancer was cool. I liked trying to hold on.”

Captain Swingset: “Just push me in a swing and I’m happy. I like watching the bright triangles, the birds, and the kids climbing the big tower.”


Two children play on a swing at Lake Waterford

This special swing lets two kids or one adult and one kid swing together.
This was Captain Swingset's favorite, by far! Image courtesy of Jeanne Fryer.




One thing I love about the new equipment at all of these parks is that kids can decide how to play and what things are for. There are multiple ways to climb on, play on, or slide down the same piece of equipment. The designs might suggest a spiderweb or a tree fort, but the kids can make up their own stories and adventures using these diverse pieces. Kids can do their own thing at these new parks, no matter their ages or abilities.


Be sure to check out these new playgrounds on your next road trip around the county. Your kids (may not remember to thank you but they) will love you for it!