There are plenty of parks and playgrounds that don’t cost a dime, but these stand out due to their size or kid appeal –
Cuesta Park – This has a children’s play area surrounded by rolling hills and shady open space. Also has volleyball, tennis and horseshoe areas in the 25-acre park. 615 Cuesta Drive, Mountain View. ci.mtnview.ca.us.
Las Palmas Park – This 24-acre Polynesian-themed park features a play area on an island, a ship to explore and a water feature. It also has a second playground, sports fields and dog park. 850 Russet Dr., Sunnyvale. 408-730-7751. sunnyvale.ca.gov.
McEnery Park – This park is designed for children’s creative play with a structure of nets and ropes for climbing for older kids, spring toys and a model boat for younger kids and a re-creation of the Guadalupe River. Guadalupe River Park & Gardens, south side of San Fernando St., San Jose. 408-298-7657. grpg.org.
Monopoly in the Park – Enjoy the world’s largest version of the popular board game. Discovery Meadow, next to the Discovery Children’s Museum at 180 Woz Way, San Jose. 408-995-MITP (6487). monopolyinthepark.com.
Oak Meadow Park and Vasona Lake County Park – These adjacent parks provide two large separate playgrounds with unusual climbing structures, ranging from trains to planes. Vasona Lake also offers a creekside trail and a lake with rental paddle and rowboats and fishing spots. Oak Meadow Park has a miniature train and carousel rides for $2. Oak Meadow Park: 233 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. 408-399-5570. losgatosca.gov; Vasona Lake: 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. 408-356-2729. parkhere.org.
South / Coast
Ocean View Park – This multilevel park features an enormous slide and playground and a view of the historic boardwalk and Monterey Bay. 831-420-5270. 102 Ocean View Ave., Santa Cruz. cityofsantacruz.com.
Dennis the Menace Playground – Created by cartoonist Hank Ketcham in honor of his famous character, the playground has several Dennis-themed structures and statues, and much more. A suspension bridge, a stream train to climb on, a three-story climbing tower, a maze and climbing wall are among the features that make it one of the area’s best-loved parks. Closed non-holiday Tuesdays, September-May. Del Monte Ave. and Camino Aguajito, Monterey. 831-646-3866. monterey.org/rec.