The St. Cloud area has literally dozens and dozens of parks. All shapes and sizes. Big ones for all ages and "pocket parks" ideal for neighborhood kids. There are 91 parks on the St. Cloud Park map alone! And there are more in Sauk Rapids, Waite Park and Sartell. But with warmer temperatures -- and a rambunctious little girl -- I'm heading to our favorite parks listed below for a little "Mom and Elena Time" this summer!

Municipal Park Playground - 1001 River Ave. N. Sauk Rapids

It’s got the least snappy name but Municipal Park Playground is totally our favorite playground. It is just so darn pretty with huge shady oak trees and a stunning view of the Mississippi River. The playground is fantastic (check it out – a giant fish!) and includes a couple of things you don’t see everywhere. A little train fuels youngster’s imaginations as they watch the big trains go by, the little springy animals are a great ride but the old fashioned merry-go-round is the crown jewel. I mean c’mon! Who doesn’t like to be dizzy? As an added bonus, you can cool off with a wade in the river…and don’t think we don’t!

The Kaleidoscope Playground in Wilson Park - Riverside Dr. St. Cloud

Another playground set along the Mississippi, it’s designed to be 95-100% accessible to persons of all abilities. All we know is it is FUN! It’s one of a couple playgrounds we visit that has separate play areas for different age groups. Let me tell you though, my daughter doesn’t read so she doesn’t limit her fun to one area – she is on every piece of the equipment. What’s really nifty (and makes me not quite as nervous about her dare-devil ways) is the landing surface. If your precious little tot takes a tumble, they land on some kind of rubberized, astro-turfed surface that bounces them right back up. The Kaleidoscope Playground is also right next to the best dog park in town -- at Wilson Park -- so I’m able to make both Elena and Salty Dog happy…and that makes me happy.

Eastman Park Playground near Lake George – off Division St. Cloud

This is the only playground to make our favorites that’s NOT along the river…but it’s got Lake George so frazzled parents are still able to enjoy the soothing effects of a beautiful water view. Eastman Park is also our favorite splash pad park because, even though it has both a playground and splash pad, they’re both awesome and awesomely big. Tons of playground equipment (just what exactly is that weird rope-dome thing? Doesn’t matter – it’s fun), tons of splashing, twirling things and tons of space. If parents are getting together with their kids for fun in the summer, it’s a safe bet that this is where they’re meeting.

Riverside Park and Splash Pad - 1725 Killian Blvd. St. Cloud

Again, we’re back to the river. The setting here is so pretty and it has everything you expect from a playground. The splash pad at Riverside Park is cute and parents of climbers (you have my sympathy) will have happy climbers when they find the rock-climbing wall. Kids who need to feel the wind in their hair as they run, run, run will love the vast open spaces and the walk along the river is fantastic.

River’s Edge Park – County Road 138 Waite Park

The only knock against River's Edge Park is its setting. It’s a pretty commercial area but that could also be an advantage if you need to run an errand and then reward the kids with a little swinging and some splashing. The playground and the splash pad are top-notch and it’s never been too crowded when we’ve been there. Also, it’s right next to a McDonald’s in case you ummm…I mean the kids need an ice-cream cone.

So, that’s the list of the best playgrounds in St. Cloud from Elena and Ricky, but I bet you’ve got a favorite, too. Let’s hear about it!