Now that my son is a teenager, days out at the playground seem like a distant memory. I am so grateful that I have young nephews that I get to watch grinning from ear to ear as they soar down the slides and swing in the air at area parks.

I often write about places to get out, take a hike and explore nature, but outdoor time can also include a day at the playground with the little ones.

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When my son was younger, going to "ride the swings" — as he would call it — was something I looked forward to as much as he did each afternoon. Not only would the trip to the swings be a chance to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, but it also was a great time to socialize with friends and neighbors or to meet new moms and dads in the area.

I thought it may be a good idea to share some playground gems in Baltimore County, in case you have worn out your neighborhood park or are just looking for a change of pace. One of my son's former favorites, and my nephew Sam's current favorite, is in Catonsville. Located in the Hilton Area of Patapsco Valley State Park, at 1101 Hilton Ave., the tire playground is an amazing, one-of-a-kind play area for children. The park is best for children who are school-age, because some of the structures are high off of the ground, and the jumping space between tires can be rather far; but, I often see toddlers at this park, as well.

My son loved the park because it is different from other playgrounds in that most of the structures, including the swings, are made from recycled tires, and they are a blast to jump on. There are also elevated wooden structures that house a few slides and bridges.

The park is in a wooded area that is great for shade on warm days. Because the playground is in Patapsco Valley State Park, there is a $2 entrance fee for adults, but children are free.

There is also another awesome playground for both toddlers and big kids at Oregon Ridge Park, at 13401 Beaver Dam Road in Cockeysville. The playground here has been recently renovated and is rather large, with equipment for children of all ages to use.

The fun thing about this playground is that you can spend hours playing and never touch the ground. There are several bridges connecting the different play structures, as well as multiple slides, a balance beam and a bouncy car that the children can't get enough of.

The playground structures sit on a ground covering that has a foamy, rubbery consistency that seems much safer in case your child were to trip or fall.

The real bonus of this playground is that you can watch your children having a blast and enjoy the view of the gorgeous Oregon Ridge Park as well.

If you are looking for a play area a bit closer to home, Hannah More Park, at 2035 Reisterstown Road in Reisterstown, has a huge playground that can be fun for children of all ages.

This playground has a toddler lot for the little ones, a large playground for the bigger kids and even a skate park for those too old for the swings. This playground has a multitude of different slides and many different-sized swings, so your children won't be waiting long for a turn. There is also a swing designed specifically for children with special needs.

My nephew's favorite is the super-tall twisty slide. He spends most of his time at the playground climbing the stairs and soaring down the twisty turns. It is one of the tallest slides I have seen at any of the area playgrounds.

With the extended hours of daylight and warmer weather, I hope you can find the time to get your kids out of the house and out to the playground.

They grow up so fast, and the pure enjoyment and freedom of climbing, sliding and swinging can be fleeting, so get out there and enjoy it while you can.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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