Essex Park SE 79th Ave and Center St.
Shade: The play area and splash pad are in the sun, but there are plenty of nice shady trees surrounding the play area.
Dog area: There is no designated off-leash area.
Water play area: Yes.
Drinking fountains: One.
Picnic Tables: There are a few picnic tables near the play area. I wish there were a few more.
Playground: There are two big play structures. One for the toddlers and one for the older kids. Lots of fun slides that are plastic and did not get too hot.
Supports children with disabilities: No.
Paths: Only one path traversing the park.
Sports amenities: Baseball, basketball, and two tennis courts.
Traffic: Powell is a few blocks from the park, but there was not too much traffic around the play area.
Yesterday we went to Essex Park in SE Portland. Essex Park is geographically a small neighborhood park, but boy was it hopping! The splash pad was being enjoyed by tiny toddlers all the way up through a group of teens having a water fight. The tennis courts had a line, there were two friendly basketball games, a baseball game, and a handful of picnics already in progress when we arrived. It had a very friendly and casual vibe. The big kids were nice and careful around the babies and I felt free to just sit back and watch the kids play. Win!
Despite the warm weather, the slides stayed pretty cool, and there were two covered slides so that even on our hottest days the kids will be able to enjoy it. My little one enjoyed the toddler playground equipment. It was not particularly challenging, just stairs and slides. I am pretty sure that is something I think about a lot more than my kids though, they just have fun.
The bigger play equipment was also pretty tame. Teenagers would occasionally pow wow on one side. This didn’t bother me at all, they were very nice to the kids and even played with them a little bit. I am in favor of anything that makes my life easier. Essex Park is one of the parks that offers a free lunch program in the summer, and I got the impression that some of the crowd was at the park to take advantage of that program. We left before it started, but next time we are in a park that offers a free lunch, we will be sure to test it out.
The baseball field is very well kept and has shaded dugouts. The tennis courts were in good condition and very busy! The little basketball court was also very busy with several different games being played at once. The only part of the playground that was not in great condition was the bathroom which was rather scary. There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use that I could see, it was just very, very, dirty. We ended up changing diapers in the back of the car.
We ended up leaving a little early because the kids were not thrilled with the leftovers I grabbed on the way out the door and we were entering meltdown city. They were soaked from running through the water. All in all a good day playing.
Would I visit this park again? Yes. The drive is a little intimidating, but I would definitely go to this park to meet with me mom friends in SE. Would the kids visit this park again? I don’t think they have met a park they didn’t want to visit again the next day!