Nestled in the College Hill area of Bernal Heights, this playground is off the beaten path and definitely worth seeking out. I'd been hearing about it for months but it wasn't until I took a long meandering walk through Bernal Heights toward Portola that I found it. The next day Mia and I returned and ran around the whole thing together—I honestly think I had as much fun as she did! After a bathroom break and a second to explore the huge fields on the other side of the St. Mary's Recreation Center, we returned to the playground where she played with some other kids who's just arrived and scored snacks from the high schoolers hanging out on the swings. There's a dog park down the hill, and if you want to make an afternoon of it Alemany Farm is at the bottom of the hill, another great spot for exploring.
Name: St. Mary's Playground
Neighborhood: Bernal Heights
Address: Murray and Justin Drive
Bathrooms: Yes, up the hill at the rec. center (changing table in handicapped stall)
Public Transit: MUNI 14-Mission; 23-Monterey; 67-Bernal Heights
St. Mary's has a large bridge connecting the main play structure with a platform area for wheelchair or assisted device users. The signage notes this structure is designed for ages 5-12, but at 2 years old Mia had plenty to play with that was challenging without feeling dangerous. The space is large enough that even with several kids there at once it's never felt crowded on our multiple visits, and the nearby fields, tennis courts and dog-park ensure a regular flow of foot traffic.
Four Stars: Worth a trip across town
Three Stars: Nearby? Check it out
Two Stars: Use In Case of Playtime Emergency
One Star: Don't Do It
No Stars: No. Nope. Never.