The dad who visited 350 local parks says these 7 will thrill your kids

Jackson Square playground in Jamaica Plain. Ed Lyons

Last May, Ed Lyons answered the city’s request for pictures of local parks. With his children, Fiona, 7, Eddie, 4, and Darcy, 1, in tow, the computer programmer and homeschooling dad spent the past year visiting up to 10 parks a day, sometimes arriving at sunrise to beat the crowds.

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After talking to other parents in those green spaces—a whopping 350 in all—Lyons said he learned that many families simply go to parks that are close to home.

“There’s stuff in other neighborhoods that’s really great that you don’t know is there,” the Swampscott resident said.

With that in mind, Lyons recommended that families visit the following seven parks that he encountered during his family’s adventures. He’s pretty sure your children will thank you for it.

Jackson Square Park in Jamaica Plain

Jackson Square playground in Jamaica Plain. – Ed Lyons

Fittingly, Jackson Square Park is just steps from the Jackson Square stop on the Orange Line. The JP park has basketball courts and swings, but the Lyons children couldn’t get enough of its big, orange climbing structure.


“It has two long zip lines, and this huge orange thing that is probably the best single piece of playground equipment in the entire city,” Lyons said. “My kids always ask me, ‘Can we go back to that orange thing?'”

(Jackson Square Park, 1516 Columbus Ave., Jamaica Plain)

Hemenway Park in Dorchester

Hemenway Park in Dorchester. – Ed Lyons

Kids can race each other on this Dorchester park’s double slide. When they’re ready to go back to the top, a red and green climbing wall along one side helps them get there.

“The double embankment slide is a great, long ride,” Lyons said.

You’ll also find swings, climbing structures for both big and little kids, and a baseball field.

(Hemenway Park, 529 Adams St., Dorchester)

Fallon Field in Roslindale

Fallon Field in Roslindale. – Ed Lyons

There are no steps leading up to the large blue and yellow tunnel slide at Fallon Field in Roslindale. Instead, kids have to climb a pyramid rope to a large, cage-like area at the top in order to begin their descent through the tunnel.

“The slide is just — wow,” Lyons said. “It’s the biggest, craziest slide in the entire city. It’s worth visiting [Fallon Field] just for the slide.”

The park also has a small embankment slide for kids who aren’t quite ready to tackle the big one, plus two basketball courts, a tennis court, swings, and a baseball field.


(Fallon Field, 81 Roberts St., Roslindale)

Paris Street Playground in East Boston

Paris Street Playground in East Boston. – Ed Lyons

Paris Street Playground has a splash pad, climbing structure full of blue ropes, a basketball court, a painted maze kids can walk through, and the longest hopscotch board in the city, Lyons said.

Also worth noting: the charging stations.

“It has five USB solar-charged benches,” said Lyons, who appreciated being able to plug his phone into a bench while visiting.

Speaking of “solar,” the playground has a solar system theme, with shooting stars on the fence and planets and stars on the ground.

(Paris Street Playground, 115 Paris St., East Boston)

Mayor Thomas M. Menino Park in Charlestown

Thomas M. Menino Park in Charlestown. – Ed Lyons

Lyons was impressed with this inclusive playground, named after the late Boston mayor.

“There’s a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round. There is also a wheelchair swing,” Lyons said. “It has a four-man seesaw. It has wonderful slides and climbing equipment.”

The colorful park is located next to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in the Charlestown Navy Yard, providing a view of Boston’s waterfront.

Oh, and there’s a restroom inside the hospital, not far from the playground.

“Let me tell you something,” Lyons said. “As a parent, that matters.”

(Menino Park, 300 First Ave., Charlestown)

Little Scobie Park in Roxbury

Little Scobie Park in Roxbury. – Ed Lyons

This Roxbury spot is outfitted with a skateboard park, basketball court, large rope structure for climbing, an embankment slide, and a climbing area that resembles a dinosaur. Lyons said he’s brought his kids back a few times for that last item.


“That is one of the nicest things for 2- to 5-year olds in the entire city,” Lyons said of the structure. “That’s a phenomenal piece of equipment.”

(Little Scobie Park, 42 Copeland St., Roxbury)

Sweeney Park in South Boston

Sweeney Park in South Boston. – Ed Lyons

Lyons called Sweeney Park a “must-visit.”

There’s a basketball court and swings, but the ropes course takes center stage, he said.

“What’s nice about it is the rope structures are all connected,” Lyons said. “And some of them are really hard to climb through. It’s challenging. And my kids love climbing. It was fun for them to go back and forth.”

(Sweeney Park, 177 West Fifth St., South Boston)

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