“Play is often talked about as if were a relief from serious learning.
But for children play is serious learning.” – Fred Rogers
I asked my children what they thought I should write about next on Cardiff Mummy Says. Their response? “The best playgrounds, Mummy, so all the other children know all the best places to play.” And so here, in consultation with Little Miss E, age 8, Little Man O, age 6.5, and Littlest Boy I, age 4, are 15 playgrounds in and around Cardiff they love to play in and hope your children will enjoy too.
Parks are in alphabetical order.
Brynmenyn, Bridgend, CF32 8UU
The grounds here are beautiful to explore, with woodland walks, oriental gardens and wetlands along the River Garw. The old playground was brilliant but a new one has just this week been unveiled with equipment for different age groups. Also look out for nature-themed activity sessions during school holidays and outdoor theatre in the summer.
Entry to the park is free but parking is pay and display.
Read our review here.
Cardiff Bay Barrage is perfect for bikes scooters or a good old walk between the Bay and Penarth. There’s a skate park an outdoor gym Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile – and a large playground on a base of sand with beautiful views over the water. It’s great for a range of ages with wooden boats, climbing nets, sand diggers and more. and walls. You can also hunt for virtual animals – including this tiger – with the Tiger Bay Trails app which is free to download.
Free to visit. Paid parking available on both the Cardiff Bay and Penarth sides of the Barrage.
Read our full review of Cardiff Bay Barrage here.
Lavernock Road, Penarth, CF64 5UY
A good range of equipment for different ages – assorted climbing frames and swings for younger and older children, plus rotating swings and a wooden pirate ship. Plus a lake full of swans and ducks; boardwalks through the marshes; woodlands to explore; and a medieval village reconstructed to reflect life in 1350
Entry and parking are free.
Read our full review of Cosmeston here.
St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan, CF5 6SU
The new wild play area at Dyffryn Gardens is half an acre of back-to-nature fun with the project constructed as part of the National Trust property’s five year arboretum revival. Instead of sending tonnes of timber from felled trees to the chipper they were used to create the wild play area. There’s wooden beams to balance on; tree trunk stepping stones and
Dotted around the play area are picnic tables and benches, again carved from Dyffryn wood. There’s also some beautifully impressive intricate chainsaw art featuring frogs, owls, lizards, leaves and mushrooms and other wildlife.
There’s also another playground with a wooden obstacle course and climbing frame at the front of the property.
Adults £11; children £5.50; family £28 – gift aid prices. Or free to National Trust members.
Read our full review of the wild play area at Dyffryn Gardens here.
Cwmtaf, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2HU
Possibly the playground with the best view in South Wales. Overlooking the tree-filled valley, there are two areas for older and younger children, with climbing frames, a great wooden obstacle course, a zip wire and rope climbing structure – as well as fairytale sculptures to spot. You can also explore the animal sculpture trail and tree trail, plus there are mountain biking trails including one designed specifically for junior first-time riders, one for more experienced riders and a mountain bike skills park, with child-friendly obstacles. There’s also a cafe and toilet facilities.
Entry is free but parking charges apply.
Read our full review of Garwnant Visitor Centre here.
King George V Drive, Cardiff
Located next to University Hospital Wales, Heath Park has acres of playing fields and woodland as well as tennis courts and a pitch and putt golf course. The playground has a smaller climbing frame with slide plus swings and springy ride on animals for younger children. Older kids have a wooden climbing structure with tunnel slide and rope bridge plus swings.
The downside is that Heath Park lacks toilet facilities.
Around once a month, Cardiff Model Engineering Society open their miniature railway to the public where visitors can ride on miniature steam engines and teams for a small charge.
Read our review of Heath Park here.
You can park for free for two hours but make sure to get a ticket. Payment required if you park for any longer.
Margam Country Park
Margam, Neath Port Talbot SA13 2TJ
A beautiful 850 acres of country park estate – and so much to do including a deer heard, farm area, a musical path and a fairy tale village with miniature houses to explore and giant chess and drafts. Plus two fantastic playgrounds. One is located near the front of the park and has traditional swings, slides, and climbing structures. The other is further into the grounds and is a huge wooden area with castle-themed climbing frames, tunnels, slides and more.
Entry is free but parking costs £5.60
Read our full review of Margam Park here.
Mountain View Ranch
Heol Penybryn, Tongwynlais, Cardiff, CF83 1NG
The Wild West themed playground is the first thing that greets you when you arrive at Mountain View Ranch. The wooden house climbing frames sand play features slides wooden obstacle courses and a zip wire swings keep children entertained for hours. And once they’re done there there’s the rest of the other 100 acres of free-range fun to explore including a fairy village Hobbit houses Gruffalo trail and more. See the website here.
Adults and children £6 peak*/£4 off peak; under 2s free; family 2+2 £23/£15; family 2+3 £28/£18.
Read our full review of Mountain View Ranch here.
Unit 5, Curran Embankment, Grangetown, Cardiff, CF10 5DX
Huge indoor, outdoor and undercover play areas make Parc perfect in all weathers. Indoors there’s a huge wooden castle and a climbing structure with slides; plus a dedicated toddler area. Undercover there’s swings, and table football; while outdoors there’s a huge sand play area, an enormous slide, a zip wire, plus mud kitchens. There’s a small cafe serving hot and cold snacks and drinks – or you can bring your own food. It does get cold for adults during winter months so wrap up warm. Look out for toddler day events in the spring plus extra events and activities in school holidays.
Entry adults £1 – one adult entry per paying group refunded when spending more than £5 in the cafe; under 2s £2.50 (FREE with an older sibling); 2-3 £4.50; 4-12 £6.
See website for winter and summer opening hours.
Read our full review of Parc Play here.
Porthkerry Country Park
Barry CF62 3BY
Even without the playground this is a fantastic day out, with acres of meadowland to play in, woods to explore, streams to pond dip in, a mini golf course, barbecues to hire, and a pebble beach. The wooden playground has a great climbing structure with monkey bars and a slide; swings; and a gliding rope swing.
There’s also a cafe and toilet facilities.
Parking is usually free other than Sundays and bank holidays.
Read our full review of Porthkerry here.
Cardiff CF23 5PA
Home of the famous ‘big slide’ Roath Park also features several different climbing structures for different age groups a spider net climbing frame swings and more. Once you’re done in the park you can walk around the lake and feed the swans and birds (seeds… bread is bad for them!) or walk around the gardens.
Roath Recreation Grounds
Ninian Road, Penylan, Cardiff, CF23 5EE
The playground at Roath Rec, as it is affectionately known, is great for the under seven crowd. It is smaller and more manageable than nearby Roath Park with a smaller ‘big slide’ and spider’s web climbing frame, as well as swings, a climbing frame and a few other smaller bits of equipment. It’s outside Penylan Community Centre so you can combine it with a trip to the under 5s soft play (see council website for details) or library. Or Joe’s Ice Cream parlour is a two minute walk away on Wellfield Road.
Cardiff, CF5 6XB
The open air history museum is a brilliant day out, with the newly opened playground called The Yard/Yr Iard a great addition. Much of the equipment is based on historic buildings at the museum and it has a lovey traditional and natural feel about it. There are rocks and a tree trunk to climb on, a sandy area with smaller roof-shaped climbing frames, a rope-netted climbing frame, plus swings.
Entry to St Fagans is free but parking charges apply of £5 (coins only).
Read our full review of the new playground at St Fagans here.
422 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff, CF5 1JL
The playground at the Grade 2 listed park is huge with areas for younger and older children with brightly coloured climbing frames; a spinning bowl; a zip wire slide; a rotating rope climbing frame and more. The summer months – usually from May to September – also see the opening of the newly refurbished splash pad with sprays jets a tipping water bucket another water features spread across three zones for toddlers and older children.
Read our full review of Victoria Park here.
Pontypridd, CF37 4PD
This playground (known to most as Ponty Park) is the stuff of childhood dreams – it’s huge and has so much to do for all ages, including climbing frames and slides, a wooden train and a zip wire. The area for smaller children is on a sandy base, so buckets and spades are a great idea. A word of warning – it’s not the easiest place to keep track of multiple children.
During summer months you can combine it with an outdoor swimming trip to Ponty Lido, Wales’s National Lido based in the park. Swimming costs £1 and you can either book in advance or a set number of “on the door” places are available for each swimming session.
Entry is free. No on-site parking but see here for nearby pay and displays.
Read our full review of the lido and park here.