I had friends from out of town who were staying in Estes Park for a few days for a family reunion. I looked for a good meeting place for us to get together, preferably with a splash park for the kids to cool off. I settled on Fairgrounds Park in Loveland and it ended up a good choice.
Fairgrounds Park was built on the old fair grounds, hence the name. The park is bordered by Railroad Ave. to the west, the Big Thompson River to the south and 287/S. Cleveland Ave. to the east. There are 2 playgrounds, a covered picnic area that includes a sand area for preschoolers, a dog park, several ball fields, a skate park, basketball court, batting cages and walking/biking trails. The river flows right through the park where people can float in a tube – a lazy river, literally.
We parked at the pavilion parking on Railroad Ave. so that’s the area I’ll cover in more detail in this post. As you enter the park from the parking lot, you first encounter the spray park. The spray park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10am to 7pm daily. It does close on occasion for maintenance or inclement weather. There are buckets that fill and dump, fountains that come up suddenly from the ground and pipes that spit water out at intervals. This is a great spot for a hot day.
Continuing south into the park you enter the covered toddler area. There are a few picnic tables, then the sand pit which is great for the little ones. Whoever decided the toddler area should be covered is a genius. Just outside the covered area is a frog slide, though the slide is in the hot sun and uncomfortable on a sunny day. The bucket swings are also uncovered. Continuing south you finally encounter the playground for bigger kids. This playground has very unusual climbing structures that resembles a spider web, a large disc that spins, swings and other fun things to play on.
Just to the east the river flows through. There are steps down to the river where you can wade and watch the people on tubes float by. We were there on a day when the water was high and the current fast, so it is advised to stay within arm’s reach of small children and weak swimmers. There’s a bridge that crosses the river and leads to the basketball court and skate park, with baseball fields to the east and south.
There are good and bad points to this playground area. Obviously the covered toddler area is one of my favorite things in a playground ever. The spray park is large with a lot of different fountains and other things to play in. Since the park parallels the train tracks, train lovers will be thrilled at the cargo trains passing through, and there’s a great view of the mountains in the distance. There are plenty of benches for parents to relax while kids play.
However, I wasn’t thrilled with the actual playground. There is one funky slide, that didn’t have actual sides to it so I was a little leery of letting my 3 year old go down. The nets and discs are great for older kids but there’s an age range that doesn’t seem to be covered in the park area – kids too small for that structure but too big for the toddler area. I also didn’t like how far apart the spray park is from the regular playground, making it difficult for a single caregiver to keep an eye on kids who don’t want to stay in the same area. This is one thing I really like about Spring Canyon, the spray park is adjacent to the playground and it’s easier to watch out for multiple kids.
I also hate to call the river a negative but the speed of the current made me nervous and I wasn’t the only one. Perhaps on a day when the water isn’t moving quite so fast I would be less anxious about letting my kids wade, and I’m definitely not a helicopter parent.
I can see returning to this park on occasion but would most likely favor one of the Fort Collins parks over Fairgrounds.
Fairgrounds Park has several entrances, the one we used is at 700 S. Railroad Ave. in Loveland
Playground ground covering: Wood chips in the play areas, blue foam walkways
Playground water feature: Yes
Handicap accessible: Not easily due to the ground coverings