A Day at Look Park

Northampton’s Big Backyard: Look Park in Florence

Kids can cool down in the Splash Park at Look Park. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The first day of school for my gang is in the books. We wave and kiss summer good-bye. We look ahead to our fall schedule with apprehension and relief: school days, homework, swim lessons, clarinet, collapsing into a heap at the weekend. And I realize, as I pack up snacks and fill out forms and do the calculus involved with different pick ups and drop-offs, I’ve not yet written about our extra backyard. Our own backyard is postage stamp sized, but Look Park is gloriously big, and is the place we end up when we need to stretch our legs, run extra fast and meet up with friends.

Bummer boats, mini golf, train rides and paddle boat rides are extra at the park. Pay half price on Wednesdays. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

We go there for a few hours or entire day. We run through sprinklers, clamber on rocks in the creek, and play hide-and-go-seek-tag all over the play structures.  I’ve been known to occasionally indulge the boys in popsicles or ice-cream sandwiches from the snack bar. On half-price Wednesdays, we’ll ride the train through the zoo, then walk through it to feed the goats, then go for a bumper boat rides.  The boys love to bike or scooter around from one spot to the next,. It is in fact where my youngest discovered that he is truly good at biking, peddling away from me shouting,“I’m good at this! I’m good at this!”

Nearby creek bed for exploring. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

It was our first retreat when we moved here in last summer’s heatwave. We’ve been back time and again, for birthday parties, picnics and sports. Its shady play structures are the only ones we head to on warm summer days. Henry and Theo often lead us on hiking trails through the woods to discover pine cones and different views of the creek. It is the best place to take them when I am tired of kid wrangling and may need a fast retreat to the van to head home for dinner, bath and bed.

You’ll find us there this weekend for the hot air balloon festival. Hope for clear skies and bring your camera, the opportunities for pictures, should not be passed up. See you there!


Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

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