Accessible NJ: Playgrounds for Kids of All Abilities
New Jersey is committed to providing every child with safe outdoor recreation areas where they can play, learn, laugh and grow. Inclusive playgrounds equipped for all levels of mobility, sensory and vision levels can be found throughout the Garden State. Here’s five your kids will surely want to explore.
Ridgewood Park - Newark
New Jersey’s largest city is taking big steps to create sensory-friendly playgrounds all kids can enjoy. Completely updated in 2022, Ridgewood Park offers a safe, inclusive space for all youth ages 2-12, with a special nod to those on the autism spectrum and other special needs. The cheery park features exciting, top-of-the-line recreational equipment, soft rubber safety surfaces, colorful, smooth sidewalks and areas designed to encourage and support sensory-friendly play. Extras like plenty of circular benches, seating areas and shade trees earn this park a big thumbs-up from parents too.
Phil Rizzuto Park – Elizabeth
Named after local NY Yankee legend, philanthropist and supporter of blind youth, Phil Rizzuto Park is not only accessible, it’s boundless. Situated on 10.4 acres, this recreational area goes above and beyond to provide kids of all physical, visual, hearing and sensory abilities an awesome place to play and thrive. Wheelchair access is only oneof the features that make this park boundless. In addition to ramps and ride-ways, there are transfer platforms, full-body positioning support swings, and plenty of safe, sit-down spring-riders. Ask any Yankee fan and they’ll say this baseball-themed play area truly hits it out of the park.
Watsessing Park Playground – Bloomfield
This playground wows kids of every ability (and their parents too)! Scoring high marks in accessibility and absolute fun for all, this park offers: three accessible swings, a wheelchair swing, a ramp to the very top of the main play structure, accessible sway-fun glider and a walk-on or wheel-on merry-go-round that’s ground-level. Adding to the wonders of this park are: plenty of sensory-friendly amenities, a musical play zone, rope bridges, a toddler rec area and rubber play surfaces. Nestled on more than 60 shaded acres dotted with gazebos, pavilions, picnic tables, soccer fields, basketball courts, a splash pad, trails and a dog park, this is your place to play, play, play!
Challenger Place – Colts Neck
Access is universal at this amazing playground! Vision and mobility-friendly amenities include Braille signage and three elevated, wheelchair accessible play structures. The Lion’s Sensory Den was added in 2019. Designed with blind or visually impaired children in mind, the attraction features tactile activities including water spray misting columns, a spinning, two-level globe, drums and xylophone-style instruments. The playground was a joint venture of the Monmouth County Park System and Challenged Youth Sports in Middletown, NJ. An additional universally accessible playground is Tony’s Place located in Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch.
Jake’s Place at Delran’s Community Park – Delran
Jake’s Place is everyone’s place! This inclusive play haven in southern New Jersey has all the thrill-a-minute components of a fabulous playground - and it’s accessible too. Wheelchair-friendly ramps throughout the playground and smooth, cushioned surfaces are just the beginning. Add a wheelchair-accessible glider, plenty of sensory and tactile play activities, musical instruments and swings with molded bucket seats to the mix too. Also getting the kids’ seal of approval - coordination-building bridges, stepping circles and a balance beam. Extras parents will appreciate include shaded areas, picnic tables, plenty of seating and a snack shack. While you’re in southern New Jersey, check out the original Jake’s Place at Challenge Grove Park in Cherry Hill that inspired this and other inclusive playgrounds in the state.
Wherever you decide to play the day away, be sure to look up the latest, local updates for current availability, hours and guidelines. Find more playgrounds and recreation areas at VisitNJ.org. Download your FREE Travel Guide and sign up for our e-newsletter too.