Let's Have Some Fun!

Livable places have spaces where people of all ages can get out and play

Ladies Day Out

The Red Hat Society describes itself as "a playgroup for women," typically women age 50+. (Younger members are welcome but wear pink hats.) These women, from a chapter in Virginia, met up for lunch and shopping at a country market. 

Location: Culpeper, Virginia

Giant Chess

A toddler too young to play chess can enjoy the game when the pieces aren't a choking hazard and the players keep her occupied with a captured knight and trio of pawns.  

Location: Rehoboth, Delaware

Board Games Prevent Boredom

Everyone is free to take a seat and play chess — or any of several other available games — for free in the table games sections of downtown Manhattan's Bryant Park.

Location: New York City

Bring Your Own

The tables and chairs in the center median of this work-play-live development enable visitors to bring food for outdoor dining or game pieces for playing checkers or chess. 

Location: National Harbor, Maryland

Pickup Pingpong

While only two, maybe four, people can play at once, Bryant Park spectators have fun watching friends, family and complete strangers complete in impromptu games of table tennis.

Location: New York City

An Urban Jungle Gym

Nestled behind street trees at the bottom of a hill sits a play paradise for children (seating for parents) at the Guy Mason Recreation Center Playground in the nation's capital. 

Location: Washington, D.C.

Miami Nice

Until recently, downtown Miami was home to businesses, especially banking, but not babies. Residential development brought the need for shopping and family-friendly places, like the Lee and Tina Hills Playground in Bayfront Park.

Location: Miami

On Top of It All

Once off-limits, city rooftops are frequently being turned into shared outdoor spaces, such as sun decks and gardens. At the Friends Select school, a rooftop is an athletic field for team sports and simple fun (no matter the weather).

Location: Philadelphia

Street Songs

The LA Live entertainment complex is a walkable downtown district in an otherwise sprawling, car-required city. Sidewalk performances by musical groups are a no-cost attraction. 

Location: Los Angeles

Downtown Movies

Before movie-viewing meant a trip to a mall multiplex, renting a video or going online, people went to local, downtown movie theaters. Some small-scale cinemas still thrive.

Location: Bar Harbor, Maine

Outdoor Movies

Drive-in movies aren't as common as they once were. Outdoor movie screenings — such as those projected against a wall of the New World Symphony building — are today's equivalent.

Location: Miami Beach

A New Kind of Drive-In

Visitors to the High Line along Manhattan's West Side can walk the elevated promenade without worrying about being struck by a car or truck. In fact, fast-moving and traffic-snarled vehicles are a source of entertainment and relaxation.

Location: New York City

A Public Reading Room

Another corner of Manhattan's Bryant Park serves as an outdoor reading room. Didn't bring a book? Don't have money to buy today's paper? No problem. A variety of free reading materials are available.

Location: New York City

A Place to Sit in the City

Well-maintained, centrally-located plazas with places to sit are useful for people of all ages. That's particularly true for Congress Square Park, located in a city that's snowy or chilly for much of the year. Another benefit of this particular spot: Free Wi-Fi!

Location: Portland, Maine

A Place to Sit in Town

Residents and tourists can relax, read and reflect in this seaside community's Village Green. For those who don't want to fully disengage, this outdoor public space is — like the Downeast one in the previous slide — Wi-Fi equipped. 

Photo: Bar Harbor, Maine

A Place to Fly a Kite

The streets of historic Old San Juan are narrow and busy. But this expansive lawn, part of the U.S. Park Service's San Juan National Historic Site, offers a stunning ocean view, warm breezes and a softly rolling lawn. 

Location: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cooling Off in the Tropics

An interactive spray fountain in the El Morro area of Old San Juan helps visitors of every age beat the heat.

Location: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cooling Off in the Desert

Sometimes the adults outnumber the kids in downtown splash pad fountains, such as this one in the downtown CityScape complex. In the winter months (with lows of about 50 F), an outdoor ice rink opens nearby. 

Location: Phoenix

Cooling Off in the City

When tempers heat up in City Hall, the hot and bothered can cool down in the spray fountains of the adjacent Dilworth Park, a space recently transformed from "an inaccessible, multilevel, hard-surface plaza" into a gathering place. 

Location: Philadelphia

Ready, Set, Color!

Loveland loves the arts. The city has housing for artists. Scupture is scattered about the downtown and displayed in a 10-acre sculpture garden. The Pastels on 5th chalk art festival invites people of all ages to draw on the sidewalks.

Location: Loveland, Colorado

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Published January 2017

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