210 Cheshire Ave.
Eugene, OR 97402
You guys. The first time we played at this park, I think we all just stood there and stared at it for about ten minutes. It is absolutely, truly beautiful. It is well designed and intentional. It is so many wonderful things. But there are drawbacks, and pretty big ones in my honest opinion. So. Here we go.
- So much green space. This park is set far back from the road, and surrounded on 3 sides by grass. Perfect for spreading a blanket and staying for a few hours.
- The paths inside the play area are made of that spongy bouncy stuff - like astroturf without the grass? What on earth do you suppose that's called? At any rate, it's not messy, it's soft, and you won't have to pick gravel out of your kid's knees when they fall.
- A super fun water feature that's on during the summer months
- Perhaps the most fantastic feature of RiverPlay is that it provides so many learning opportunities. According to the city of Eugene's website, it was "designed to capture the character of our local region." There's a stagecoach, a ferry, a rock wall, a fossil dig, a Kalpuya dwelling, and so much more. Love it.
- The Pioneer Village, which includes a blacksmith shop, a school, a hotel, and other assorted buildings that I can't remember, is such a super fun place for littles (as well as not so little littles), to engage in pretend play. Awesome imagination stretching happening here.
- This is totally the teacher in me, but I love that this park has labels on the Pioneer Village buildings. It's a completely natural way to build reading practice into play. Often, resistant readers will not be quite as resistant if you slide practice in on the sly. Tricky, right?
- Situated next to the river, you get to enjoy a lovely view.
- Kids love this park. All kids. However, I really feel like bigger kids - like six years and up - would really enjoy and use this park to the max.
- Okay. So you know all those fabulous buildings in the Pioneer Village? It is really, really easy to lose track of your kiddos in them.
- This park is so awesome that it is often pretty crowded. Which makes it even easier to lose track of kiddos.
- The play structure is huge. And I mean huge. It is too big for most preschoolers to reach the top on their own (unless they are super adventurous? Maybe most kids are more interested in climbing than mine? Anyway.) If you are wearing a baby or pushing a stroller or have a smaller kiddo to keep track of, be prepared to spend some time trying to keep your bigger kiddo from scrambling to the top of that structure and getting stuck or something. Yikes.
- Eugene's parks often have an element of...campers...and RiverPlay has a particular challenge due to it being downtown and near the river. During the summer, there are always groups of homeless people laying in the grass. Last time I was there, there were several sleeping bags under the play structure and it was obvious that people were camping there. I am all for having honest conversations around homelessness with my littles, but I feel as if Eugene already provides plenty of opportunities for those discussions.
Food: Well, there's a water fountain, but you'll need to bring your own snacks. :)
Resting/Nursing spots: Spots galore!
Cost: Free - wahoo!
Time frame: As long as your kiddos can play!
Megan Defferding is the mom to two super fun boys who love to find great stuff to do all around Lane County! Check out her blog series, Happy Adventuring, weekly on GoMomGo.