February 6, 2012

Play Date: Caldwell Park

Once, a few months ago, a friend sent me a text message: “Do you know if any of the parks around here have bucket swings?” I could think of one. Maybe two. But that was it – and not because there aren’t more bucket swings in Stockton.

It’s just that, short of going and hoping for the best, there isn’t a really easy way to find out which of Stockton’s more than 60 parks has exactly what you’re looking for, be it a slide or a soccer field.

So this is Play Date, a series of little guides to the area’s parks and play areas.

First up is Caldwell Park.

P.S. It has bucket swings.

The Basics | Caldwell Park
Location: Just south of Alpine Ave., between Pacific Ave. and Allston
Type: Neighborhood
Size: About 3.5 acres
Amenities: The park has a tot lot with two slides (one spiral, one wavy), bucket swings, bars, and other things to climb and crawl on. The ground inside the play area is covered with woodchips. There are barbecue pits, picnic tables, benches and bathrooms. The park is outfitted for half-court basketball and has a half-acre of multi-use space to run around on.
A little history: The Caldwell Park site was donated to the City in 1939 on the condition it be used for recreation.
Play Date: Buy some snacks at the adjacent S-Mart Foods grocery store and make it a picnic.
(Source: City of Stockton)

Kids seem hardwired with a sense of playground etiquette that always surprises and impresses me. Once in a while, when other parents are in earshot, we might remind our kiddos to take turns or to look out for the littler ones. But they mostly don’t need us to. They’re pretty self-governing that way.

At 2-years-old, my daughter is still the smallest child in lots of crowds, but when we go to Caldwell Park – whether on a party-packed Saturday afternoon or a low-key weekday evening – she’s at ease. It’s one of our favorites.

The playground equipment is toddler-friendly, but still seems entertaining for kids as old as 6 or 7. There are lots of places for parents to sit and a fair amount of shade.

The picnic tables are pretty grimy, though, so you might think about packing a blanket if you plan to eat. And since it’s next to the grocery store and a bus stop, there tend to be a lot of people coming and going.  

But I’ve never felt unsafe there. The opposite. It’s a friendly place.

Find us on the slide next time.

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