Without fail, whenever I ask for everyone to share their favourite playground on social media I can be sure someone will mention DJ Butler Playground in Rockingham. I've driven by this spot a thousand times when I worked at MSVU, but I have never been here.
This week we finally went and my first impression was ... well ... let's just say I it was a hard pause...
I've been to so many shiny new playgrounds lately that I saw the equipment and questioned it. It seemed tired and well-loved. But then I looked at my kids who were flying towards it with open arms and I took off my playground critic glasses, and took a look at it through their eyes.
And then I got it.
This equipment is tired and well-loved because it's been adored by kids for years and stood up through the test of time and there are SO MANY FUN ELEMENTS to this playground that many of the newer ones don't have!
The more the kids and I explored the more blown away I was. Oh look! A zipline here! And a bee shaped ladder there! And a wobbly bridge here! And look, there's a, what is that? A log roller??? It was like a playground treasure hunt with little surprises tucked all over the place.
It's broken up into four main sections essentially, and across a HUGE expanse of green area and set back far from the road. There is a little kids section with varying degrees of difficulty; there is a big kids section; a swings section; and a jungle gym.
Most of the sections have pea gravel except for the little kids' section which has the spongy turf (that does need a little refresh as some sections are broken or missing).
This playground has lots of benches, one picnic table, a garbage can, a tennis court, a basketball court, an asphalt walkway good for walking or riding small ride-ons/trikes in the grass area, and a few platforms for sitting around the edge of the playground. There isn't much shade on the play area but there are mature trees on the outskirts that kids can be taken to for a snack and some cooling off.
Many, many climbing options from a high rock wall (below) to little rock walls on the toddler section. There's also a firefighter's pole to drop down from the top on and a bouncy bumblebee.
The house on the toddler section was a fun element I haven't seen before as well (and a great shaded spot). Lots of kids have used chalk to colour on parts of the equipment. I don't know if it's encouraged or not, but I assume it all washes off in the rain.
There are four slides (two bigger ones and two smaller ones) and all have a range of options to get up to the top of the slide that kids of almost any size could manage.
There are also six swings, four belt swings and two baby swings. This section is by the jungle gym and set back from the rest of the play equipment to limit the likelihood of a kid running in front of the swings which I always like to see.
I also loved seeing a jungle gym here. This structure is so great for little climbers and is a great "risky play" option to push kids' limits. I did notice however that the centre circle edges on the jungle gym are a bit sharp (and likely get a bit hot in the sun) so it might be good to remind kids that they're footholds, not handholds.
The final verdict? Loads of fun for the kids and lots of seating options for the parents (those who aren't tempted to try out the equipment themselves!). Fantastic gem of a playground in a beautiful green area and friendly family neighbourhood. I bow down to you Itsy Bitsy Haligonian readers, I won't question your playground recommendations ever again. 😉
Miss M's (age 6.5) fave picks: the firefighter pole and the blue log roller
Mr M's (age 4.5) fave picks: the bouncy bumble bee, the play house, and the whole "big kids' playground" section
The DJ Butler Playground is located at 99 Flamingo Drive in the Rockingham area of Halifax; on the corner of Flamingo Drive and Meadowlark Crescent. See notes below for parking tips.
PLAYGROUND FEATURES AND AMENITIES
Two play structures; one toddler focused, one bigger kid focuses
One jungle gym climber
Six swings - two baby swings, four belt swings
Slides: two taller ones, two shorter ones
Many climbing options including monkey bars, rock walls, ladders,
Log roller thing-a-ma-jig (see my Insta Stories under Playground highlights to see a video of how it in action)
No fence between playground and the road, but it's set back a good distance from the road
No public bathrooms available
No shaded areas on the playground but surrounded by mature trees for breaks
Ground surface is mostly pea gravel with spongy and rubberized on the toddler section; surrounded by grass
Tennis courts and basketball courts at the back of the green space
Asphalt walking/tricycle space for kids to drive around
Free street parking lot on side streets near the playground (note there is no parking on Flamingo and Meadowlark but just drive up a street or so and you'll be able to find some spaces on the side of the road. If you zip around to Nightingale and park in that area you'll see a path that takes you straight through to the playground as well.