New to Idaho with a family in tow? Welcome to the Gem State, neighbor!

If free fun is your clan's jam, the Treasure Valley is home to a trove of cool playgrounds and skateparks. Valley parents can pick from an array of open play spaces that fit their kids' ages, needs, and interests.

From splashpads to skateparks, to state-of-the-art playground equipment that accommodates differently-abled kiddos, Valley parks are built for serious play.

FYI: play is important!

According to Unlimited Play, a nonprofit devoted to building fully accessible playgrounds, play is a "critical part of [the] physical, emotional, mental, and social development [of] every child." The organization contends this is especially true for differently-abled children. With a 10-year background in Special Education, several of which were spent working with differently-abled children for West Ada School District, I wholeheartedly agree. All kids should know the thrill of conquering the 'big slide' or touching the sky with their sneakers on a swing with mega sway!

While I'm hardly an anti-screen-time mom, free-play and finding opportunities for my kids to cut loose are high priorities of mine. Some of the best times I ever had growing up were made with one-time friends I met at the playground during my brother's baseball games.

It didn't matter that we didn't know one another's names. We knew the ground was lava, the tire-swing was glue, and that we had to be home before the streetlights switched on. That was all we needed to have a blast. Well, that, a water fountain, and a few bucks in case the ice cream truck stopped by; in which case you were obligated to spring for an ice cream sandwich for your penniless pal.

My point? I want my kids and kids across the Treasure Valley to know that sort of freedom and fun. If you're on the same page as me, keep scrolling to check out 14 playgrounds and skateparks your family will love.

For more info on Treasure Valley skateparks, check out the Boise Skateboard Association!

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