When traveling overseas it is important to observe how local families interact with their kids, it will tell you a great deal about the culture.
The playgrounds in Tirol, Austria, speak volumes.
The playgrounds are nothing like the low-risk, cushioned, gently-sloped, plastic, shredded rubber turf play structures that dot the city parks and schools in the US.
Many of the Tirolean play structures are two to three stories tall, made of solid wood, have pulleys, rope bridges, ramps, water flumes, sand pits, lengthy slides, zip-cords, and … teeter-totters! I cannot remember the last time I saw a teeter-totter in an American playground. One play area even had a small rock climbing wall.
Most interesting is that when playing on private land a parent does not need to sign multiple liability waivers just so the kids can play.
I have seen a variety of playgrounds in Tirol, all have safety designed into the structures, but they are also architected to foster independence, spark creativity, and provide a setting for kids to make decisions – and some decisions on these play structures of have an element of risk.
Of all the play areas I have seen, except one, parents were engaged with their kids and having fun as a family.
Below are some photos of what families can expect playing in Tirol.