Best Playground

Coventry Elementary School

On a recent day at the Coventry playground, a kid in his early teens walked up and said, "Dag! This is a big playground!" Our thoughts exactly. And it's clear that the playground's creators knew how to stoke a child's imagination. A serpentine dragon made of used tires rises from a sea of mulch, while nearby, an enormous ship with a wooden bow offers safe passage. If you get tired of playing Captain Ahab, there are plenty of other attractions, including two tire swings, two zip lines, and a labyrinth of secret passageways. But the biggest draw is the gargantuan slide, which is two stories tall and runs the entire length of the hill. Unfortunately, the playground got a bad name last year when a local TV station reported that its wood was treated with arsenic and could be toxic if kids ingest too much of it. But have no fear: the community group that maintains the playground spent $40,000 to sand down the wood and refinish it with a nontoxic sealant. So the only thing to worry about will be the usual skinned knees.