We often forget that play isn't for-kids-only. Adults benefit from play, too. Whether we chose to play alone, or with a friend or partner—adult playgrounds are settings that enable grownups to reclaim the same sense of innocence, joy and exhilaration that seems to come more naturally to children. Benjamin Franklin once said: "We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing."
Playgrounds for Adults
Summer is as good a time as any to unplug, take a mental health day, and indulge in a mini-vacation. Some places are perfect for getting away for a few hours or a day; others may entice you to extend your experience with an overnight stay at a nearby hotel or resort. Most playgrounds are multigenerational so you can even bring along children, young adults, or grandchildren along with you to share the experience.
A visit to one or more of these playgrounds may be the perfect antidote to feeling "aged out" of play:
Chelsea Piers, Connecticut
Chelsea Piers Connecticut will be opening a brand new, 400,000-sq-ft state-of-the-art sports and recreation facility on July 9, 2012. Located in Stamford, Connecticut just off I-95 at Exit 9., this mega-gym will offer supervised sports and entertainment for every age-level. Visitors can take part in competitive sports or learn something new; offerings include swimming, squash, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, football, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey, and gymnastics. The facility is under the same management as Chelsea Piers, located beside the Hudson River in New York City.
California Adventure Park, California
This month, the Walt Disney Company unveiled a $1.1 billion overhaul of the Disney California Adventure Park located adjacent to the original Disneyland in Anaheim. The centerpiece of the park is Cars Land, homage to the Pixar movie brand, Cars. Another new addition is Buena Vista Street, a representation of the Los Angeles Walt Disney discovered in 1923, and an $80 million water extravaganza, complete with lighting, music and fountains.
Coney Island, New York
For many years, Coney Island was a victim of the economy, with many of its rides, businesses and other attractions either disappearing or deteriorating. This summer, the park seems to have gotten a shot of B12 and has opened several new attractions including Sling Shot, a thrilling ride that drops 90 feet in a free fall at 150 miles per hour. The iconic 85-foot Cyclone roller coaster, which made its debut in 1927, is still there too.
At one of the popular TED talks, Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneering researcher on the topic of adults and play, observed that "work" isn't the opposite of "play." Rather, the opposite of play is depression. "Nothing lights up the brain like play," says Brown. "Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe—the executive portion—and helps contextual memory be developed..." Brown suggests that opportunities for play can be found in a variety of contexts such as humor, games, flirting, and fantasy.
No matter where you live, you can probably find an adult playground not too far from home—including theme parks, gyms, health clubs, dance studios and parks. Have fun!