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You have in your hand an indispensable guide to just the playgrounds of Marin. Why just playgrounds? Because there has never been a book like this before. Nearly every town and neighborhood has a playground. And they are all different. And all free. What could be better than free entertainment when you just need to get out of the house with your active child? We’ve all been there. The walls of your home can’t contain their energy. Besides, little ones always nap better after some fresh air.

Chances are you know the playgrounds closest to you. But what if you find yourself at an appointment in another part of Marin, or you just want a change of scenery from the old familiar, or you’re not from here at all? This guide has them all. The big fancy playgrounds everyone knows, as well as the more obscure gems tucked in neighborhoods. There are nearly 100 playgrounds to explore. Keep this guide in your car or diaper bag. You never know when you’ll need it.

Rich and I and our kids visited every one. We got many of our sources from local Parks and Recreation Departments, web sites, Mothers’ Clubs but mostly by word of mouth from Marin parents and caretakers. We even followed stroller-pushing nannies. During this exploration, we noticed that some towns had many playgrounds in varying conditions while others had just one super playground with all the latest and greatest features. There were only a few places where the condition of the equipment was so poor, dangerous or no longer present that we chose not to include them.

New safety play structure regulations have created changes such as swing removal. For example in some places where there used to be three swings, they are now thinned to one or two to allow for more swing space. Most tire swings and tall slides are in the process of being removed as are chain-link ladders and see-saws. One parent commented on the dulling of playgrounds as a result of there being too many lawyers in Marin.

Each entry is listed alphabetically by town and gives you the location with cross street, (Thomas Guide coordinates,) website and phone number if available. We give each a rating (see Key) with how it satisfies basic requirements: area fencing, toilets, drinking water, parking, and general safety. A detailed photo and review recounts the type and style of play equipment, the surface it is built on, how easy is it to watch multiple children, and if there is a picnic facility. Some entries have a bonus section that might include a unique feature such as a duck pond or a fire station near by. Where appropriate, we also include local restaurants and delis where one can pick up picnic foods.

We hope these playgrounds will bring you hours of joy and the exercise your little ones need. Too bad no one’s figured out a way to bottle all that overflowing spunk. Until someone does, we’ll take our little ones to the playgrounds to run, climb and swing to their hearts’ content.

Rich Shiro and Marianne Shine