Playground Pick

Northside Park, Otsego

Wooden castles just the start of fun here

4.5/5 Stars

Northside Park is tucked amongst rolling hills, a short drive north of downtown Otsego. Two experts in the field of playground greatness, mom Emily and her 4-year-old son, Olo, squeezed an adventure in there before naptime and shared their thoughts on this wooden mammoth of a playground.  

Upon arrival, Olo immediately ran toward the Swiss Family Robinson-style wooden playground structure. Noting that the playground was fenced in, Emily was able to follow behind at her own speed, knowing Olo couldn’t get too far from her view.

Olo reported that the structure’s wooden boxes, sculptures and games were stacked together with maze-like secret passages and was like “a treehouse castle on the ground.” Emily said the Northside structure tempted her to play as well with its rope spider webs, miniature zip lines, castle, spaceship, kid-sized honeycomb, four slides and wall-puzzles. “It feels a little like a funky Middle Earth,” she said.

It should be mentioned that the park is ready for some updates such as adding disability-accessible swings and paths and new rubber casings on the chain-link climbing elements. The skate park, too, was a bit of an overstatement with one small ramp on a large blacktop.

Upon reflection, Olo’s favorite part of Northside Park was playing baseball with his mom, which just goes to show that kids will always have the most fun doing what they could do in their own backyard.

However, Emily didn’t mind the nearly 30-minute commute from Kalamazoo to the park, saying, as Olo nodded off on the ride home, “He always falls asleep on long rides home.”

Reviewed by experts Olo, age 4, and mom, Emily Sykora



Northside Park

Where: Watson Road, north of River Street, Otsego
Hours: Dusk—10:30 pm
Best Ages: 3 years—adult

  • Fenced-in wooden playground structure
  • Regular and baby swings
  • Rolling hills and landscaped garden
  • 2 covered picnic pavilions with 7 picnic tables and permanent charcoal grills
  • An in-line skate/skateboard area with a ramp
  • Baseball and softball diamond
  • Basketball court



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