Balena Park

by Lara We have so many great parks in Ottawa and we love to hear about what YOUR favourite parks are.  Over the years we've written about all kinds of parks around the city.  If you'd like to write a post about yours, send us an email at kidsinthecapital@gmail.com - we'd love to share it!

Balena Park

We live in Orleans where we have access to a lot of great splash pads, but there's something so special about the old wading pools that I try to make at least a few visits to them each year.  Balena is a park that is generally quiet and not over crowded, with a great pool and great structures. Structure at Balena

There are three different structures plus swing sets for the kids to play on.  It keeps them entertained for hours on end.

Wading pool

The wading pool is the highlight for the kids.  There is a shallow area for babies (which comes to about mid-shin on me) and the deeper area is probably only about 2-2.5 feet deep.  It's great because the kids all feel comfortable in the water (this is the first summer, at 5, I've let them in without a life jacket on though) and there are lifeguards on duty. Unfortunately the wading pools are only open for a couple more weeks, but if you have a chance, check them out (and the special events they often hold) before then! They also aren't generally ready for swimmers until about 11 since the pools are emptied every night and have to be re-filled in the morning.

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Crafts

Another feature of all the wading pools is that the lifeguards are all equipped with craft supplies!  When the kids are ready for a break in the shade they can head over and they'll have an activity to keep them busy! crafts at Balena Park Finished craft from Balena park

Here are a few other Park posts from over the years:

Brewer Park

Carp splash pad

Springhurst

A few other favourites

What's your favourite Ottawa area park?

Flashback: My Park: St. Luke's Park

Over the last two years we've had some great park reviews.  If you would like to submit a post about your park we'd love to share it with our readers!  Email us at kidsinthecapital(at)gmail(dot)com

by Zach

St. Luke's Park might not look like much if you're walking by on Elgin Street, but it certainly is worth checking out.

For kids and parents, the layout of the main area is nearly perfect. The park has a wading pool in the centre, which can be its own play area for hockey / soccer / random ball games for ten months of the year (though a concrete, uneven one, so toddlers might need some watching), and a well-supervised swimming area while the public schools are out. For some reason, swimming season ends near the middle of August, so try to get the most out of July that you can. As of summer 2009 many of the lifeguards there have been working for several seasons, are well-known among the parents, and are excellent with the kids.

There are some trees providing shade, but sight lines are still great within the main area. There are two play structures on the south side, a smaller one for kids aged 2 to 5, and a larger one for 5 to 12-year olds. On a busy day, try to count the two- and three-year olds flinging themselves down the twisty slide on the larger structure.

Both play structures are exceptionally well-designed, with plenty of climbing surfaces and slides. They're easily my favourite play structures of all the parks we visit.

The surface on the south side of the park is sand, which allows for castles, soft falls, and moats made with swimming pool water, for the really motivated.

The west side has three swing sets, for babies, mediums, and big kids. The small and medium swings are old school, facing in just one direction, and set low to the ground to maximize the swinging arc and parental back pain. The swings have great shade from nearby trees, and the St. Louis Bar and Grill right behind will torture you with smells of fried food. The Second Cup is right next door for quick caffeine hits.

The north side of the park is a large grassy area, with a picnic table. The city quietly and quickly hacked down a beautiful old growth tree in the summer of 2009, so the area isn't nearly as shaded as it once was. We'll give the city the benefit of the doubt as to why it had to go, but that tree is sorely missed, and its scrawny replacement is probably something your great-grandkids will enjoy. The grass tends to be under-used, except when the pool is open, when finding a free patch of grass for your beach towel becomes challenging.

The east half of the park is taken up with a basketball court, field house, and then another grassy space between the field house and some tennis courts. Kids who aren't paying attention, or who want to use the field house bathroom (open when the swimming pool is open), might dart into the middle of a game, so keep an eye out.

The grassy area in the east half of the park is a blessing and a curse. It's an old bowling green, and it's nice to have a dog-free, relatively level play area. You can see Frisbee, soccer, football, yoga, and boot camp fitness classes being held there, but bigger kids can also dart behind the field house and out of a parent's view with remarkable speed.

Overall, St. Luke's is an excellent park, and the number of parents and kids there on a nice day (and even less nice days) speaks to its well-deserved popularity.

Zach is the dad of a 3.5 year daughter "the girl" and eighteen month old son "the boy". Zach doesn't have his own blog but he is blogged about at Capital Mom.

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Nature within City Bounds: Andrew Haydon Park

by Natasha Spending a day at the park with my family seems like the best use of a nice and sunny summer day. My favourite park has always been the Andrew Haydon Park, located in Ottawa’s west end. It sits along the river and is neighboured by a marina, so you see ducks coming in from one end, and sail boats moving in the back.

For the avid park-goer, this park has all the amenities you need to take advantage of fantastic scenery, walking trails and bike paths right inside the city itself. The park, with its mini islands and bridges, is large enough to house the ever increasing crowds that dwell in the city.

If you’re after a small picnic, the tables scattered all along the park give you ample room to lay out a spread and enjoy a bite outside. The park also has barbecue pits if you prefer to cook your meal on site. If you do bring your own BBQ pits though, make sure you obtain a permit from the City of Ottawa, otherwise there’s a hefty fine for those that don’t obtain the necessary approvals.

Andrew Haydon park has several play structures that have sand brought in straight from the beach. My son absolutely loves spending time in the sand boxes with his toys and horsing around on the swinging structures designed for child use. A large and intricate play structure is also located on site to keep children a little older busy and active.

The park, due to its proximity to the beach, also has room to accommodate the sun worshipers that lay by the trees for a tan with a book in their hand. And don’t worry if you need to change your clothes or clean up your little ruffians, there are washroom facilities with changing stations open to the public at any time.

If you can’t walk or bike to the park, drive down and enjoy the spacious parking over several lots provided across the length of the park. A word of caution though: the best spots and picnic tables tend to get occupied rather quickly on nice days, plan an early trip to the park to enjoy most of its amenities.

If this beautiful weather holds throughout the summer, you can be sure to find me and the family picnicking at this park.

Andrew Haydon Park 3169 Carling Ave Ottawa, Ontario

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.

Kids in the Capital playdates

With Spring finally here we thought it was time for us to  finally get organized and restart our weekly Kids in the Capital playdates! Yay for Spring! From now until the Fall we will be hosting weekly playdates every Friday morning from 9:30am to 11:30am at St.Luke's park in Centretown. It's a chance for readers to hang out, watch the kids and chat. St. Luke's is just off of Elgin which means coffee is close by, as are bathrooms. Don't forget to bring swim suits in July and August because the wading pool opens at 11:30am!

Playdates will be cancelled if it is raining!

We hope that you and your kids will join us!

Kids in the Capital Anniversary Party!

We were pretty excited when Kids in the Capital turned one. So excited that we decided to have a party! When: May 1st from 10-12pm Where: St.Luke's Park at Elgin and Frank Who: All of our readers and contributors are invited! That means you!

We hope that we will see you there. The plan is to play, visit and meet new friends.

Amanda from Little Lotus Yoga is going to be doing a 15 minute kids' yoga session with the kids at 11.

Shop Haven, Eko Bear, Jen and Jodi's Friendly Kitchen , Sara McConnell Photography and Spoiled Sugar have all donated prizes!

We can't wait to see you! (Let us know if you think you can make it so we can plan for appropriate numbers :))

Brie and Lara