Philippe Park (2525 Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor 34695) is a Pinellas County Park located on Old Tampa Bay and shaded by gloriously large oak trees draped with Spanish moss. This combination makes the park particularly lovely for family photos, if you’re looking for a picturesque, Pinellas location.
The main playground (I haven’t made it to the climbing one) is mostly shaded and overlooks the water from a distance on a hill. It has many of the same features as the other county parks, most noticeably, the rideable green and purple dinosaurs. There are 2 infant/toddler swings in one section and at least 4 regular swings in a different area.
Henry liked the variety of slides to climb up (& then slide down) on the older kid (5 to 12) set, and both generally liked the equipment. We spent the most time accumulating sticks and climbing the centipede, which Henry mastered the art of dangling by our second trip. He still needed a touch of help climbing down the centipede after he rapidly ascended.
Dislikes for us include the distance to the park (it takes us about 30 minutes from Seminole), especially since there are closer county parks to us, and the lack of kids playing on a weekday morning. My boys love playmates, and often immediately judge a playground as lame if no one else is there.
Around 1,000 years ago, Tocabaga Indians feasted on clams and oysters, leaving the remaining shells which comprise the still-visible Indian Mound that is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. You can climb to the top of the Mound for a fantastic view of the Bay.
This 122-acre park is the oldest county park in Pinellas, having been acquired in 1948! Named after Count Odet Philippe, the man who introduced grapefruit to Florida, it covers the site of his citrus plantation (St. Helena). Philippe has the distinction of being the first permanent, non-native settler of Pinellas County (he took the land in 1862), and is an ancestor to the prominent McMullen and Booth families. His grave site is located somewhere within the park.
- 9 picnic shelters
- 2 playgrounds (one is a rock climbing playground)
- Boat launch ($6 with trailer, $2 without)
- Tocabaga Indian Mound
- Softball field
- Fishing (saltwater permit may be required)
This week’s playground of the week is located in the town of Safety Harbor, which has a cute Main Street full of shops and restaurants, a wonderful inn and spa where you can “take the waters” or just relax, and several parks within walking distance. We have visited its City Park (940 7th St S, Safety Harbor 34695) a few times now and love it.
Pinellas County’s first certified official “boundless playground,” it is the largest park in Safety Harbor at 21 acres. There is a skate park, baseball fields, a dog park, volleyball courts, basketball courts, a huge field, and boating access to Alligator Lake. It also has bathroom, which are definitely needed for toilet training toddlers. But we didn’t visit this park for all of those things – we love its giant playground!
There are two main playground jungle gyms protected from the sun by huge tents. They have so many things to climb (including a dinosaur!) and lots of slides, plus ramps and steps to run up and down. There are two bouncy race cars to pretend to drive, a climbing obstacle course for bigger kids, and a ton of swings. Only the main jungle gym structures are protected by the tents, however, so the other areas get hot. There is plenty of shade to cool down – under trees, beneath the tents, or in one of the picnic shelters.
As for safety, most of the playground is mulched (parts have that packed-down, recycled rubber material), so if your kid likes to collect and/or eat that kind of thing it is perfect for you (not so great if you’re a germaphobe and don’t like your kids putting mulch in their mouths). There is a fence around the far exterior of the park, not the playground area, but it shouldn’t be a problem to safely contain your kid from the street since the playground is set back from the road. I think this park is perfect for kids of all ages, and for all seasons.
I know what you’re thinking: the Safety Harbor Public Library is not a playground. I know that, but when it feels like the triple digits outside playing inside is where it’s at! Last Thursday, it offered a special free music class for the under-five set called Music with Mar. (http://musicwithmar.com). I’ve seen these classes advertised, so I figured we should check out a free one first.
Music with Mar. was developed to provide quality, brain-based music to children and families. Henry and I were underwhelmed by the class. The music wasn’t loud enough to hear over the din of 20 or more kids and their parents/grandparents. Most of the kids just sat around, swaying to the music. The songs were unoriginal like a lot of children’s songs can be, and the music wasn’t really fun to dance to. Henry tried his usual dance moves, as well as following directions in the songs, but ultimately opened the door and walked out.
Luckily, the children’s department of the library was awesome to make up for the fairly lame music class. It had puzzles, games, magnetic boats, and a fantastic Thomas the Train set that Henry couldn’t stop playing. He’s obsessed with trains right now so it was perfect. The library also had a great art corner set up where kids could be creative – stamp pads, markers, play dough, chalkboards, and more. I had to pry Henry away from it all to head home for lunch. Since he took a three hour nap, I’d consider our alternative playground visit a success!