Thrasher Park in Norcross has train play for toddlers and a free summer concert series at night for the whole family. Contributed by Capture Life Through the Lens/For the AJC
Photo: Contributed by Capture Life Through the Lens/For the AJC
Photo: Contributed by Capture Life Through the Lens/For the AJC

6 OTP playgrounds that will keep kids entertained all summer 

Play to your heart's content. Does your kid ever really get to do that?

In summer, at playgrounds outside the Atlanta perimeter, it just might happen.

Numerous OTP communities have lavished attention and creativity on the local playgrounds, achieving that magic balance of carefree and safe; entertaining and reliable; daring and familiar.

For anyone who vowed to keep the kids active this summer, this short list of playgrounds eliminates all of the stress of planning. Let it happen.

These play spaces and structures are so appealing, you might find yourself sneaking onto a slide or splashing through a pond, too. Here are six OTP playgrounds that will keep the kids entertained all summer:


Wills Park playground

8 a.m. to dusk daily

11925 Wills Road, Alpharetta. 770-410-5845.

The big draw at this massive playground is Wacky World and its abundance of slides, monkey bars, bridges, towers and swings. For the small fry, sandboxes are stationed out of the way of the big kid play areas. For shade lovers, a canopied Purple Playground offers slides on several levels along with swings and climbing. This is the park playground to hit for an all-family stop in the evening or on weekends since it also includes a dog park and disc golf for those bored (or pretending to be) teens.

Dunwoody Nature Center is the place to slide in the shade before or after a family-friendly walk on a nature trail.
Photo: Contributed by Dunwoody Nature Center/For the AJC


Dunwoody Nature Center playground

7 a.m. to sundown daily

5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. 770-394-3322.

Just part of the fun at the very woodsy DNC, the playground includes super-high slides, a jumbo rope swing and a standing seesaw. Parents will appreciate separate areas for older kids and toddlers while kids will love the treehouse and a drop-in tepee that began as a Boy Scout project. All ages will enjoy hiking a family-friendly trail before or after the playground stop.


Rabbit Hill Park

Sunrise to 11 p.m. unless posted otherwise

400 Rabbit Hill Road, Dacula.

With a river channel, pond and sand volleyball, this 200-acre park is a constant source of entertainment. The playground is on artificial grass and features plenty of swings, twisty slides and shallow canals for splashing. Kids really like the dinosaur fossil motif in the climbing area.


Thrasher Park playground

8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

93 Park Drive, Norcross. 678-421-2010.

This is a sweet little park where you can enjoy the summer sounds of small-town Norcross. Tots will thrive in the cushioned play area and there's even a bright red train play structure. And the whole family will appreciate those clean, air-conditioned bathrooms.

summer concert series runs May through September at the park, so the whole family can have a cozy time in the summer evenings to look forward to, along with a handy spot to work off some energy.


McDaniel Farm Park playground

Sunrise until sunset unless otherwise posted; the nearby historic farm is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday

3020 McDaniel Road, Duluth. 770-822-8840.

For the folks who want a bit of history and exploring included in OTP playtime, the oft-overlooked McDaniel site couldn't be more fitting. The 134-acre park has been restored to depict a 1930s Gwinnett County farm complete with amenities like the blacksmith's shed and a carriage house. Three miles of paved and non-paved trails are a nice place to walk.

The other entrance boasts the farm-themed playground, dog park area and a rustic pavilion and grill for picnic meals and play date gatherings.

A "dinosaur dig" is a popular feature of the Caney Creek Preserve playground in Cumming, Georgia.
Photo: Contributed by Caney Creek Preserve/For the AJC


Caney Creek Preserve playground

March-October 6 a.m-9:30 p.m. daily; November-February 6 a.m.-7 p.m. daily

2755 Caney Road, Cumming. 404-550-3083.

If one of the kids is the type who can recite every dinosaur from tip to claw to tail, this playground will become a favorite spot. It features a dinosaur dig area, spider web climbing net and boulder play structures. The area is shaded by trees, making it a bit cooler than Atlantans have come to expect in summer. For the kids (and parents) who lose interest in a playground before long, the preserve also features natures trails to explore. And Fido is welcome next door at the dog park.

Nearby is Fowler Park (4110 Carolene Way, Cumming), which will play host to the Play at the Park Festival, an end-of-summer-weather playground blowout on Saturday, Sept.

Summer Guide OTP edition is a seasonal series from The Atlanta Journal Constitution that highlights some of the best dining and outdoor experiences taking place outside of Atlanta’s perimeter. 

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