As you might know, I love me a good playground. So much so that I put together a list called "7 Awesome Playgrounds in Rutherford County" because I love for my family and I to get a workout, and I love the chance to be around the good vibes of other families playing together.
But sometimes a big, awesome-size playground isn't what your family needs. When my kids were tiny, I was grateful for smaller, pocket-sized parks where they could practice small skills and I wasn't worried about them getting accidentally knocked over by the big kids running around.
Now, as Covid-related restrictions ease it's AWESOME to see people out and about more, but crowds still feel a little overwhelming.
I'm here to say that's alright. Small is good, too, so I put together a list of small parks my family loves. They're also ones that when I tell friends about them they most likely go, "What, wait? There's a park there?" Yes, yes, there is, and they're just right for littles, or for some quieter space away from the crowds.
Check out these seven hidden playgrounds in Rutherford County
1. Barfield Park Small Playground, 697 Veterans Pkwy. Murfreesboro
While we eagerly await for the new Blue Cross Blue Shield Park to be completed this summer we'll enjoy the facelift on the small playground at Barfield Park! Fenced in to keep busy littles from running off, the newly redesigned area has a twirling pole, long slide, climbing bars and stairs. It's right next to picnic pavilions and across from the bathrooms.
2. Blackman Community Center Playground, 4310 Manson Pike, Murfreesboro
This was a wonderful find when Covid was at its height and everything was closed. Tucked into the Blackman community across from new development, the Blackman Community Center promotes activities and initiatives to benefit its citizens, and it has the CUTEST park for kids that was updated just last year. A climbing wall, a straight and swirly slide, fun balancing and climbing apparatus and tunnels for toddlers are so much fun! My kids love the swinging monkey bar and the chance to show off their climbing skills on the rope ladder. It's all set on soft shredded tire mulch so there's less chance of getting ouchies. Enjoy the flat greenspace, too, There are a few picnic tables, but no potties.
3. Cason Lane Trailhead Park, 1100 Cason Trail, Murfreesboro
Popular among residents on Cason Lane who can walk to this playground hub, this park with climbing walls and great slides is next to a series of climbing stones and just a short walk from an easy wading entrance to the river. Nearby pavillions provide shade and comfortable picnic seating. After our run around we usually take the bikes on the Greenway or visit the Bark Park across the parking lot to meet some furry friends. Nice bathrooms are nearby along with water fountains. Be aware, though: there's no shade other than roofs over parts of the playground, so sunscreen up! (It's also perfect for cooler days because it gets so warm!)
4. General Bragg Trailhead, 1540 W. College St., Murfreesboro
Another great access point to the Greenway, this trailhead has a small playground with bridges, slides, and monkey bars. My kids run obstacle courses through the playground a while before running to the railroad to wait for a train. or crossing the Greenway path to see the river and throw stones. A beautiful pavilion provides a sweeping view of the park, and also houses bathrooms and water fountains.
5. Discovery Center Outdoor Parks, 502 SE Broad St., Murfreesboro
Frequented by families on their way to the Wetlands (or just taking a break from indoor play at Discovery Center), these two parks offer outdoor fun for busy little ones. The park on the West side of the parking lot has climbing tunnels and small slides next to bathrooms and park benches, while the park area directly behind the center features a slide, rope "spider web" for climbing, leveled graveled steps, new hammocks, and outdoor musical instruments. While that's probably enough for most toddlers, round off your visit with a walk through the wetlands or get a little wet walking under the fountains over the Wetlands. Bonus: there is no Discovery Center admission cost for playing in the outdoors area!
6. Oaklands Park, 423 Roberts St., Murfreesboro
When I choose a playground for our outtings I love one that lots of points of interest. Oaklands Park has monkey bars, climbing bars, twirling poles, and fun cubbies and tunnels kids love to hide in. Bathrooms and a giant picnic pavillion are steps away, but so is the Oaklands Arboretum and walking path down to the Wetlands. A wide-open field is perfect for fur babies to play or for a great game of frisbee.
7. Patterson Park Community Center, 521 Mercury Blvd. Murfreesboro
Aside from the many awesome indoor ammenitites at Patterson Park like the library and indoor pool, the outdoor park is a lovely and non-crowded destination option as well. Multiple slide levels, a tunnel, swings, and walking path are here, and allow for a little bike riding, coloring some chalk, and a good game of chase. A pavllion with bathrooms and picnic tables is right next to it. Shade trees over the main play area also mean it stays cooler.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at email@example.com.