Residents of Burlington's New North End were pleased to say farewell this summer to the pressure-treated splinter factory that was Starr Farm Playground. After a series of neighborhood meetings, the city replaced the squeaky old swings with a futuristic, alien landscape that's as fun as it looks. My wife, Maggie, and I bring our daughter, Sailor, there a few times a week.
The colorful new playground is divided into two distinct areas. A toddler play structure offers a variety of old standbys such as baby swings and a small slide, along with a board showing shapes and colors, as well as a plastic hand drum.
But where this new playground really shines is in the big-kid area. At 4, Sailor's technically not old enough to play there — it's meant for ages 5 to 12 — but that's where we spend most of our time. The centerpiece is a jaw-droppingly tall 16-foot, 7-inch PlayWeb structure, a geodesic sphere that contains its own ropes course and is connected to the main structure by a cargo net bridge suspended several feet in the air. It's without a doubt the most challenging and fun element of the park. Even I want to get in there.
Not feeling so adventurous? Kids can play plenty of great games closer to the ground with an underground "telephone" system, a fire bell and a sling-swing.