The Playgrounds of South Park – A FamilyFunPittsburgh Know Before You Go Guide
by Janet Jonus
South Park is a 2000 acre Allegheny County Park nestled in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. South Park has many amenities but families love South Park for its playgrounds. Parents and kids can choose from two major playgrounds, 3 minor playgrounds, and numerous “grovegrounds”.
The heart of South Park is the 2 mile long Corrigan Drive corridor. A very popular bike path and pedestrian trail extend the length of Corrigan Drive. It is also home to three of the South Park playgrounds – the Main Playground, the “Black and Gold” or Bumblebee Playground and the Corrigan Drive Playground.
The Main Playground
The Main Playground occupies the grassy area at the corner of Corrigan Drive and Brownsville Road. It is across from the old Allegheny County Fairgrounds. With five distinctive playgrounds spread over nearly an acre, this Playground has something for children of all ages.
The Playground is accessed mainly through a set of steep steps leading up from the parking lot. Stroller parents and wheelchairs and anyone who doesn’t want to walk up the steep steps can enter the Playground via ramps on the far right and left side of the parking lot.
Once you get to the top of the Hill, the Playground is spread out in front of you. There are five separate play areas, a central grassy area perfect for picnics and relaxing, a building with bathrooms, and two picnic groves.
The baby and toddler area lies to the far right. This area has a small climbing structure with three small sides and six toddler swings.
Area 2 is next to the toddler playground. It has a larger climbing structure with five slides and three sets of unique monkey bars. It is very popular with Kids for the monkey bars. It is a good playground for Preschoolers with parental supervision.
Area 3 is the most unique part of this Playground, perfect for Ninja Warrior training. It has a long zipline, two bars for gymnastics or laches (bar swing jumps), two bouncing hanging kettleballs (also excellent for advanced laches), two walls with cut-out rock climbing handholds, and a V-shaped climbing structure. This area isn’t usually very crowded even on busier days because it takes some skill to navigate it. This area is best for Kids and Tweens.
Area 4 is a large, three-story play structure with four tube slides and two smaller slides. This is a very popular area with Kids and some Tweens. Pick-up games of hide and seek and Defend the Fort often spontaneously start among the children playing here.
Area 5 is a large swingset with six strap swings, one of which was broken on the day we were at the Park. This area is good for Kids and Tweens but it also attracts Teens who are hanging out.oming Soon!
All of the areas have a firm, rubber surface.
The Main Playground has ample parking in the Corrigan Drive- Brownsville Road parking lot but the lot can get full on weekends when everyone descends on the Park.
There are restrooms at the Playground with baby changing stations. The Men’s Room has a single sink, 2 urinals, and 2 stalls but one of the stalls does not have a door. The Women’s Room has three stalls and a sink. The bathrooms are not clean. We rate them a 1.0 out of 5 for cleanliness. The toilets are often clogged and the floor is usually wet.
There are two caged vending machines near the bathrooms. There is a water fountain as well but it was not working in early May.
There are five picnic tables in two grove areas and several benches scattered around the Playground. There are grassy areas. The trees around the perimeter of the Playground provide minimal shade. Most of the Playground is in the sun.
Wu’s Shaved Ice
A visit to South Park wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Wu’s Shaved Ice. You will find Wu’s in the parking lot of the Main Playground. It is a popular stop for walkers, runners, and families. Wu’s has hand-carved Shaved Ice in three sizes with a choice of 27 flavors and two sugar-free flavors. The servings are generous and the flavors are delicious. The staff is friendly and efficient. On hot days and weekends the line can get long but it is worth the wait.
Wu’s is open from April until October on days that are at least 60 degrees. Wu’s opens at 1100 AM and stays open until at least 800 PM. Wu’s may close earlier on days with inclement weather.
Wu’s Shaved Ice is a recommended treat after a hard day of play.
The Black and Gold Playground
The Black and Gold, or Bumblebee, Playground is less than a half mile away on Corrigan Drive. It is a relatively recent addition to South Park. It is also a favorite for Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Kids.
The Playground has three areas. A large, climbing structure that dominates most of the Playground, a swing set, and a new exercise area outside of the fencing.
Built on the corner of a parking lot, the Black and Gold Playground is surrounded by a safety fence. The large, wheelchair-accessible climb and slide structure is easily accessible by Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Kids. The entire structure is fairly low to the ground with the shortest slide a mere two feet off of the ground. The tallest slide is seven feet tall. There are thirteen slides in total, ten ways to climb onto the structure, two low gymnastics bars, and a variety of interactive play points. Kids love to run around while their parents relax at the four picnic tables and two benches.
The swingset is also geared towards the Toddler and Preschool crowd. Six of the eight swings are full harness swings. The other two are standard strap swings.
There are three port-a-pots just outside of the fencing. One of the port-a-pots has a baby changing area. There is parking right next to the Playground. The Playground is accessible through a gated fence. The gate rubs on its support structure and can be difficult to open.
The play surface is made of compressed rubber. The rest of the Playground is asphalt. There are no shaded areas at all, except the limited shade provided by the climbing structure so this Playground can get very hot. There is a water fountain near the swings but it was turned off when we visited in early May. There are no grassy areas.
There is a new exercise area just outside of the Playground fencing. It has 2 elliptical crosstrainers, 1 gazelle crosstrainer, a knee-lift station, and a climbing bar. This area is best for Tweens and Teens as the equipment is too large for most Kids. Or parents can get a workout while their kids play inside the playground.
The Corrigan Drive Playground
The Corrigan Drive Playground is actually a series of playgrounds stretching along the walking trail on Corrigan. There are two Playgrounds on either side of the entrance to the Dek hockey parking lot. These mirrored Playgrounds have a swingset with four swings each and a small climbing structure with three slides. The smallest slide is 2 feet tall, the highest is six feet tall. Each area has a water fountain (which was working). There were two port-a-pots with baby changing stations. Both port-a-pots were surprisingly clean.
There is another smaller playground with a swingset and an old-fashioned, tall yellow slide. These Playgrounds are not destination playgrounds but the yellow slide is a favorite with kids who wander down that far. The Playgrounds have a coated rubber surface. There are a lot of trees providing ample shade on a hot day. The Playgrounds are surrounded by grass. There are picnic tables scattered along the playgrounds. Parking is off of Corrigan Drive in the Dek hockey parking lot. The Playgrounds are popular resting spots for families hiking the Corrigan Drive walking trail. A lot of strollers were parked in the area when we were there. The Playgrounds are good for toddlers with help, Preschoolers and Kids.
The Spreading Oak Playground
The Spreading Oak Playground is on East Park Drive near the Action Park. It is a small Playground with four slides and a set of monkey bars. There is a swingset with four swings, two strap swings and two toddler swings. There is a picnic grove and a parking lot. Bathrooms are in an adjacent building but they were locked when we were there. The Playground has a coated rubber surface. The Playground is surrounded by a grassy hill, perfect for picnics and play. There are a few trees around for shade. This Playground is popular but not crowded. It goes along with the Spreading Oak building when it is rented so it may have limited availability. It is good for Toddlers with help, Preschoolers, and Kids.
The Community House Playground
The Maple Springs Playground
The Maple Springs Playground is near Corrigan Drive and adjacent to the popular fitness trail. There is a parking lot that gets crowded in the evenings and on weekends as the parking lot is used for the fitness trail. There is also access to Corrigan Drive and the walking trail there via a bridge.
The Playground has a climbing structure with two slides. There is a swingset with four swings – two strap swings and two toddler swings. The surface is hard rubber but the Playground is surrounded by grass and trees. Parents use the Playground as a stop to relax after walking the fitness trail. There is a bench and two picnic groves. This park is popular with the younger set – Toddlers with help, Preschoolers, and Kids
The area has a bathroom building. The men’s room has two urinals and two stalls. One of the stalls had a broken door. The women’s room has three stalls. Both sides have a baby changing station. The bathrooms get heavy use from the trail. There is a water fountain but it was not working in May.
South Park has dozens of picnic groves with attached Playgrounds. These “grovegrounds” have a swingset. Some grovegrounds have a small climbing structure with two low slides. Many groves have adjacent or nearby parking lots and they are not crowded on weekdays. Rented out groves belong to the renters so if one grove is occupied, just look for another one. Most of the groves are surrounded by trees and grass. Take a picnic with you and set up in one of the picnic groves and your children can have their own private Playground!
South Park is located in the south hills of Pittsburgh in South Park and Bethel Park Townships. The South Park Fairgrounds address is 1888 Brownsville Road, South Park Twp, PA 15129. The South Park website can be found at https://www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/south-park/index.aspx