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Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: South Sarasota

Part I: Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: North Sarasota click here
Park II: Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: Central Sarasota click here
Part IV: Guide to Playgrounds in Lakewood Ranch click here

Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: South

 Rating Categories (Low: 0, High: 10)

  1. Diversity of Equipment Score: Is there a diverse option of playground equipment?  Are there multiple pieces of equipment for my kids to go between?  Are there multiple playground sets for older and younger kids?  If the park is crowded, will there be enough equipment for my child to play on?
  2. Approach Score: I love living in Florida, I really do.  But, come end of March to mid-October, I limit my outside time to certain times of day, and I plan my outside entertainment based on the amount of shade there is.  The approach score is basically how sweaty, hot, and exhausted will you be before you even get to the actual playground.  Is the parking lot a quarter of a mile away from the fun?  Is there shade or trees to get you pleasantly to and from on a hot, Florida summer day?  (Most Floridian moms know in the summer, you get to the playground by 10:00 am at the latest, and you leave that park before 11:15 at the latest, or else you face the risk of dying from heat disease.)  
  3. SPF Score: Speaking of the hot, Florida sun, the SPF score is the amount of shade the actual playground has.  Will your little munchkins be a sweaty mess within 10 minutes of arrival?  Can your little ones only last 20 minutes before you fear for their dehydration safety?
  4. Prison Break Score:  Is the playground confined with a fence or gate so that little ones don’t accidently wander off?  How likely is it that my little one will escape the safe confines of the playground (0: very likey, 10: he’s caged in like a lion at the zoo).  In other words, can I or can I not go on my iPhone for 2 minutes while at this park without fearing my children may run off?
  5. Crowd Score:  Are there a million kids swarming around, all vying for the one slidey skateboard thing?  Do I have to helicopter my kids to make sure they are taking turns and not pushing other kids around?  An overcrowded park in not an enjoyable experience. 
  6. Play Date Score:  How likely am I to get a decent, adult conversation in if two moms meet up for a playdate?  Is the equipment safe enough that my 3-year-old will not hang from the too tall monkey bars?  Is the equipment relatively close together so that said other mom and I can stand in one place, talk, and still keep an eye on our children?  Or will I be chasing my child all around and not be able to talk to my mom friend?
  7. Bathroom Score:  Is the bathroom close enough that your newly potty-trained toddler can make it to the facility in time or do you have to scoop him up, haul butt, and hope you don’t have an accident on the way?


Potter Park

This park is located in South Sarasota, near the YMCA.  It consists of 3-4 smaller playgrounds, located under shaded trees.  We like this park because there are so many different things to do.  I like the shade and short walk from the car. 

Pros:  Diverse equipment, shaded, short walk from car, close bathrooms.

Cons: There are not too many cons on this one. 

  1. Diversity of Equipment Score: 9 – Great, multi-playground park.  They are divided into age appropriate sections and all have some unique element and appeal to that group. 
  2. Approach Score:  8 – The parking lot is a short walk to the equipment, but is it shaded by tress.
  3. SPF Score:  8 – The majority of this park is shaded by trees.  I get hot here, but there are always patches of shade to break the direct sunlight up. 
  4. Prison Break Score:  7 – Well defined areas.  Your child will most likely bounce between areas, but all playgrounds are relatively close together. 
  5. Crowd Score:  9 – This park is usually not crowded at all. 
  6. Play Date Score: 8 – Due to the small crowds and close proximity of the equipment, this is a great play date playground. 
  7. Bathroom Score: 9  – Bathrooms are in the middle of the equipment, close and convenient. 


Philippi Creek Park

This park is located on Philippi Creek Estate.  It consists of a small playground and a gazebo pavilion.   

Pros:  Usually not very crowded, great for Pokémon hunting.

Cons: Lack of diverse equipment, parking lot not directly in front of playground.

  1. Diversity of Equipment Score: 7 – The equipment is the standard, small tower main platform, a few ride springy character toys, a spinning rubber ring, a few stand and spin poles, and some plastic characters in the ground.
  2. Approach Score:  7 – The playground is not directly adjacent to the parking lot.  The walk in is fairly short and not too bad. 
  3. SPF Score:  7 – This playground is not covered but there are some trees that provide decent shade if you go early in the morning or late afternoon. 
  4. Prison Break Score:   7 –  The playground is well-defined but your little one may soon get bored with the equipment and try to wander the Philippi Estate. 
  5. Crowd Score:  8 – This playground usually doesn’t have more than 2-3 other families there at one time. 
  6. Play Date Score: 7 – This is a decent play date park because it is small and not crowded.  The cons are that there is not very much to do on the actual playground, and it can get hot during certain parts of the day. 
  7. Bathroom Score: 7 – The bathrooms are located next to the parking lot.  A short walk away.


Siesta Beach

This park is located at the Siesta Public beach.  It is relatively new, so the equipment is in good shape and themed appropriately to its beach location.  There are 2 sets of playgrounds and a set of swings.  There are picnic tables and a medium sized field for little or older kids to run around, although it is adjacent to the parking lot so you do have to keep an eye on the little ones.  It is located near the bathrooms, which are unfortunately a walk up a set up stairs to the second floor.  There is a shade cover at this park, but most people who visit this park are in their bathing suits anyway. 

This park can get crowded due to Siesta’s popularity, but I have never been when safety has been an issue. The biggest downfall to this park is that I would never go to this park solely for the playground.  You are fighting with beach-goers for parking spots, and no matter where you park at Siesta, you are bound to get hot walking into the main area.  If you plan on going to the beach and water, this isn’t really an issue.  But, if your sole purpose is to use the playground, it is not worth the walk or the heat. 

We have gone to this playground in the evening around sunset.  That was an enjoyable experience because you get the gulf breeze to cool you off at that time of day.  But, otherwise, save this playground for when your out-of-town guests insist on going to the #1 beach in the US. 

Pros:  Fun beach setting, separate playground close together, close to beach.

Cons: Anyone who has ever been to Siesta knows that parking is a headache of all headaches, so the walk to the playground is long and hot.  You usually only go to this playground if you are going to the beach for something else anyway (the beach, beach runs, sandcastle festival, sunset, drum circle).   Bathrooms are located upstairs in pavilion.

  1. Diversity of Equipment Score: 8 – The new equipment and the fun beach theme make this playground a unique experience.
  2. Approach Score:  5 – You are battling beach-goers when you park for this playground.  Hopefully, you are not just making this trip for the playground because the time and effort to park warrant at least a few hours at Siesta before relinquishing your parking spot. 
  3. SPF Score:  6 – It is at a beach, so of course it is going to be hot, but it is somewhat covered.  I have never been to the playground at the hottest time of day in summer, so I don’t know how well those shades work.  I would imagine not too great, depending on the angle of the sun. 
  4. Prison Break Score:  6 – There is no fence to keep the little ones in, but my youngest (who is usually an escape artist) has not had an issue with wandering past the playground equipment.  There is a small field and then a wide sidewalk before the parking lot, so there is a low risk of toddlers running into the parking lot. 
  5. Crowd Score:  4 – We have never been when this playground has not been swarming with 10+ families.
  6. Play Date Score: 5 – Due to the high crowds, poor parking, lack of shade, lack of fence, and laterally spread out equipment, I would not recommend this playground for a play date.  It’s good to let the kids get some energy out if you are at Siesta anyway, but do not plan a separate play date around this playground.
  7. Bathroom Score: 5 – The bathrooms are next to the playground, except they are on the second story of the pavilion so you do have to climb stairs to get to them.  Or, take the handicap ramp, which takes a bit longer but for some reason is an appeal to my kiddos. 


Tell us what you think? Are we missing one of the playgrounds in Sarasota: South that you love?


Check out our others Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota:

Part I: Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: North Sarasota click here
Park II: Guide to Playgrounds in Sarasota: Central Sarasota click here
Part IV: Guide to Playgrounds in Lakewood Ranch click here 


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