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Top Playground & Recreational Equipment Trends for 2022Top Playground & Recreational Equipment Trends for 2022
Playground Equipment Feb 25, 2022

Top Playground & Recreational Equipment Trends for 2022


Needless to say, 2020 was a tough year for all of us (thanks, COVID!). 2021 was a year of healing and adapting to a world where pandemics still happen. But what will 2022 hold? Many experts and pundits are calling 2022 a “year of discovery.” While none of us are sure what “normal” will look like going forward, one thing remains true – people still want (and need) to get outside, recreate, and experience something new.

Playgrounds have been a part of school, park, and community areas in America for more than a century; chances are good that you have some fond playground memories of your own from your formative years. Outdoor play is fun, and it contributes to the physical, mental, and social growth of children all over. And in this post-pandemic world in which we live, playgrounds, parks, and outdoor recreation facilities are as important now as they’ve ever been. Here are a few key trends we’re following regarding playgrounds and outdoor recreation equipment for 2022.

Carolina Recreation & Design is more than just a provider and installer of playgrounds and recreational equipment. We also endeavor to keep you informed about developments and trends within the greater outdoor recreation industry, including shedding some light on key themes and innovations that are worth following. Here are five trends we’re watching for 2022

• Demand for Inclusive Playground Equipment

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 got the ball rolling for creating a level playing field for people with disabilities. Even so, there’s still plenty of opportunities to create more recreational opportunities for people of varying ability levels. More accessible playgrounds have become increasingly popular in recent years, but 2022 looks to be a breakthrough year for breaking down more barriers in terms of playground inclusivity. Playground manufacturers and installers are going beyond merely meeting minimum ADA standards, to intentionally creating playground experiences that are more inclusive by design. Some of the key trends include building in wide ramps for participants who rely upon mobility devices, creating more sensory play opportunities for those with sensory processing disorders, and including more braille panels for those with sight limitations.

• Intergenerational Play Is “In”

2022 has already pointed towards an increase in popularity among intergenerational play spaces. Studies show when adults and children are able to engage in play together, they experience deeper and more significant benefits than playing separately. It’s time for us to create more playground and outdoor recreational spaces which encourage all generations to play together, spend time together, and be able to learn from one another. Communities are looking for more opportunities to create playful moments which can be shared together by both children and their adult caregivers. To that end, more playground and outdoor equipment providers are developing products and layouts which are designed for fostering multi-generational play experiences.

• More Outdoor Fitness Opportunities for Folks of All Ages and Ability Levels

Playgrounds have traditionally been associated with children, but modern “playgrounds” can be designed and built for adults, too. One trend we’re seeing is a greater demand for outdoor fitness facilities. Outdoor fitness was already popular before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic forced even more people to look for ways to exercise outdoors. Several communities and organizations have responded by installing outdoor fitness trails, outdoor fitness equipment stations, and outdoor fitness parks. This trend is only expected to continue to grow in 2022, and is expected to include more outdoor fitness facilities which cater to senior adults, as well.

• Personalized, Thematic Playsets

Playgrounds are fun for kids in their own right, but themed playgrounds are even more exciting because they create deeper connections for children and help to spark their creativity. Children love to create their own mental worlds through play, and choosing to incorporate themed design elements into your playground design can help to fuel children’s imaginations. In 2022, more schools, churches, daycares, and parks are expected to choose specific themes for their custom playground projects. Some of the more popular commercial playground themes we’re seeing at Carolina Recreation & Design include barnyards, castles, trains, planes, pirate ships, and playground sets which incorporate musical playground equipment.

• Playground Towers and Elevated Play Elements

Freestanding playground equipment like climbers, spring riders, motion elements, net effects, and balance activities continue to be popular features seen on playgrounds across the U.S. Even so, more and more commercial property owners are seeing the value of building their playground layouts around a central play tower station which includes elevated play elements. Look for playground towers to make an even bigger statement in 2022, featuring more innovative design techniques and elements which cater to an even wider range of ages and ability levels.

• Recreational Site Design Which Incorporates the Surrounding Landscape

In prior years, playground site development often involved general leveling and clearing of land in preparation for playground installation. One downside to this approach is that it requires modification – and even removal – of certain natural features on your property that you might prefer to keep. Playground designers and site developers are now providing more options for property owners to be able to leave more of their natural landscape intact. In 2022, you don’t necessarily have to re-engineer the topography of your playground site. Playground providers and landscape architects can help you to take better advantage of your property’s natural features through creative, integrated playground design.

• Expanded Outdoor Learning Opportunities

2022 is also seeing more interest and demand for outdoor classrooms and outdoor learning areas. Many schools and parks have been leveraging outdoor learning spaces for years, but modern businesses and organizations are starting to appreciate the many benefits of having outdoor shelters and seating areas installed on their property for company meetings, training events, and social events. These facilities can also be taken advantage of by employees looking to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors during their break times.

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Carolina Recreation & Design Has Your Outdoor Playground, Recreation, Fitness Equipment, and Shade Structure Needs Covered!

Carolina Recreation & Design is your preferred provider and installer of commercial playgrounds, outdoor recreation equipment, fitness equipment, shelters, and shade structures in NC, SC, VA, and TN. We’re also happy to install playground safety surfacing, handrails, barriers, fabric shades, mounted cameras, and many other needed site amenities and furnishings.

We’re general contractors too, so we can take care of site preparation, permitting, electrical, water, sewer, fencing, landscaping, or whatever else you may need to turn your project idea into a reality. At Carolina Recreation & Design, we’re more than just a vendor or a dealer; we’re a true turnkey solution provider!

Got questions? Ready to get started? Give us a call today at (704) 664-1833! We’re all about providing you with the absolute best value for your investment, with a clear focus on safety, and a keen eye for FUN!