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Meet the Calgary mother who’s been to *almost* every playground in the city

If you’re a parent or caregiver you know good Calgary playgrounds can be hard to find.

It was a struggle Calgarian Dana Wheatley knew all too well when her son turned one and she scoured the internet looking for fun playgrounds to take him to. 

“I could really only find a short list of playgrounds with a short description. There were no pictures at all. So I decided that if I couldn’t find the information I wanted, I’d create a place where I could,” she said.

RELATED: Hidden Gems: 5 Calgary parks you still need to hit this summer

Fast forward nine years later and Wheatley along with her three children have slid down gobs of slides, swung from countless wings and scaled oodles of climbing bars. She’s documented all of them on her blog, Calgary Playground Review. Yes, it includes photos. Lots of them.

Dana Wheatley writes the blog CalgaryPlaygroundReview.com PHOTO COURTESY DANA WHEATLEY

The City of Calgary Parks manages and maintains more than 1,100 playgrounds and 5,600 park sites in the city. Wheatley said she’s been to so many she can’t even put a number on it, but has noticed the growing need for more inclusive playgrounds.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that we need more playgrounds. But as older playgrounds are being redeveloped, I think there’s all kinds of things that we can think about trying to make it so they are more inclusive for more people.”

Top Calgary playgrounds

Take Shouldice Park in northwest Calgary, for example. According to Wheatley, it’s her favourite park in the city. The park features bathrooms, picnic tables – the playground is the cherry on top. 

Shouldice Park is located in northwest Calgary. PHOTO COURTESY DANA WHEATLEY

“They really made an effort to have wide ramps and equipment that’s ground level. There’s musical features, there’s things you can spin, bounce and tile things. It’s just really thoughtful in how they built it.” Wheatley said.

“That’s the kind of playground I wish there were more of.”

Her second pick? Prairie Winds Park in northeast Calgary. The park features two Calgary playgrounds. First, a more traditional park targeted to kids. Another features zip-lines and hill slides targeted to older kids. For those looking to cool off in the heat, there’s also a wading pool and a spray park.

Keeping kids active year-round

Of course, outdoor playgrounds aren’t the only thing Wheatley covers on her blog. When there’s snow on the ground or a chill in the air, Wheatley explores the best – and worst – indoor attractions for kids.

Craving a burger and want to bring your children? She’s got a full breakdown of which Burger King play parks to go to and which to avoid.

At the end of the day, Wheatley says going to check out different spaces around the city to create a resource for parents or caregivers brings her joy.

“There are a lot of things in Calgary that cost money to go an do and playgrounds or parks are easily accessible for everyone,” Wheatley said. 

“It helps develop health and motor muscles which they can then use later. They can make friends. It’s great for parents to have a little time whether it’s playing with their kids they can have a space to do that, or talk with a grownup friend while their kids go play.”

“There’s just so many uses in these spaces.”