Guelph is about 45 minutes – just under 60km – from Burlington, and our main inspiration for the trip was to check out Exhibition Park, Guelph’s natural playground. A natural playground is essentially a park made almost entirely of wood. Limited plastic and metal, with loads of opportunity for exploration.
Exhibition Park, one of Guelph’s natural playgrounds, was the first official natural playground we’ve visited. My kids were oohing and aahing from the backseat when we arrived, and can you blame them?! Look at this playground! It’s like a wooded wonderland for kids who love to climb and make-believe.
The Park is home to a few different play areas, each one more impressive than the last. There’s a huge section that can best be described as a “spider web of logs”. Immediately their shoes were off and the kids were scaling the logs and making their way from one end to the other. The heights range from about 2 feet at the lowest point to 7 or 8 feet at the highest. My girls are 8 and 10 in these photos, and it was a challenging apparatus for them, something they don’t get to experience much at conventional parks.
My 8-year-old has yet to meet monkey bars she didn’t love, so she was in her glory with all of the climbing bars at Exhibition Park. The various log climbers, ramps, and log walls put balance to the test, and really make kids focus on their footwork. At the same time, their imaginations are running wild with everything they see on this natural playground. Open-ended play is the name of the game here.
La Piece Du Resistance
There was one thing about Exhibition Park that made it stand out from every other park we’ve been to – The Water Pump. Yup, a real, working hand pump that PUMPED. REAL. WATER. Take that in for a minute. I scored a million mom points at that very moment. Shoes and socks were immediately removed and car washes/water deliveries/other fun stuff ensued. (Note, during the pandemic and winter, the water pump has not operated)
Make a plan to visit Exhibition Park in Guelph soon. We’ve been in the summer and the winter, and both seasons are great. The short drive is definitely worth it! Plus, we have 10 additional things to do in Guelph to add more to your day trip. Or, check out this OTHER natural playground in Guelph and really blow your kids’ minds!