American vs. German Playgrounds

One of my favorite things about living in Germany is getting to explore the many playgrounds scattered throughout this country. I look forward to the day that my baby is old enough for me to use him as an excuse to play on the equipment without feeling weird.

Before continuing to read this post you might want to take a restroom break, pour yourself something to drink, grab a plate of cookies, and get your finger ready to do some serious scrolling, because I’ve gathered a ton of photos that I’ve taken over many years to illustrate the differences between German and American playgrounds. I hope you enjoy viewing them.

American playgrounds are usually made out of plastic and colorful metal. I guess the plastic makes sense in Texas because of the heat. They usually have mulch, rubber, or pebbles on the ground. Newer playgrounds have shade canopies overhead.

German playgrounds are almost always made out of wood and metal. They usually have mulch or lots and lots of sand on the ground. 

American playgrounds tend to be very cookie-cutter.

Each German playground is unique.

Texas playground scenery:


German playground scenery:


German playgrounds are often found in wooded areas and are integrated into the natural surroundings.

Here are some American climbing trees. They are made out of plastic and the climbing rungs only go a couple of feet off the ground. There is no challenge whatsoever.


Here is a German climbing tree. It is carved out of a real tree and is very challenging to climb (I wasn’t able to manage it).

Americans are very safety-conscious. Here is an American balancing structure. The blue and yellow things don’t spin. Note how the rope ladder in the background only has 3 rungs.


Here are some German balancing structures.

This German playground has a wall to balance on. My husband is demonstrating.


Here is an older American climbing structure. 


Here is a German climbing structure. 


Here are some American merry-go-rounds. You don’t see them very often anymore because they are considered to be too dangerous.

Here is a German merry-go-round. Sorry kids…no handles!


Here is a German seesaw thing. The boys actually did somehow manage to all get up onto the incredibly high seats.


Here are some very high firefighter poles (in Germany, of course)


American double-slides versus German double-slides. I didn’t take the second photo, but I have been to the amazing playground.

German playgrounds often have zip-lines.


Some Texas playgrounds have a water area (splash park) nearby.


In Germany, water is frequently integrated throughout the whole playground in creative ways.

Here is a German playground with a kid-sized hamster wheel. When the wheel is turned, water is pumped through a water hose that another kid can play with.


That concludes my playground presentation. I definitely prefer the risky German playgrounds over the tame American ones. Whenever I come across any other cool playgrounds I’ll try to make a new (shorter!) blog post to share more of the fun.

Now you can put away your plate of cookies and give your scrolling finger a break.  Thanks for following along this far!


7 thoughts on “American vs. German Playgrounds

  1. Hello you!
    I guess you three need to come to Pfronten I’m Allgäu some day!
    There are 13(?) very unique playground – each with its own theme.
    It was amazing to see the Pirates-one, and I hope like you to that mini-baby on my arm will grow and start playing with me!
    Have a good time with your little angel,
    Best wishes xxx Josi


  2. i remember the no handle mery go round and the zip line near the kita i used to worked at in Wolfsburg. I like how the German play areas in Germany “challenge ” the children to test their physical abilities. According to my German colleagues, the design of the playground in each community is unique because the council take consideration the ideas of the children and families who live within the area.
    I have not been to the US but from other countries I have visited, the way playgounds are structured are mainly from an architect’s or construction company’s perspective. I hope that the German way will enlighten other countries and follow their brilliant examples.


    1. I didn’t know that the children and families in the towns get to have a say in designing the playgrounds! That’s so cool! It explains why each one is so special. The playgrounds in the US are definitely designed from the manufacturers’ perspective.


  3. Hey Melissa, love your blog! I too am definitely a “playground grown-up” myself. Maybe you’ve been there already, but there is a very unique one in Zirndorf (check out “Spielplatz am Achterplätzchen” on the internet). It is within the woods an the concept is, that you not only can play on the playground itself (with a very high an fast slide 🙂 ), but kids (and parents) just go into the wood, building stuff out of trees, branches etc. Maybe we could go there together in spring, hm?


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