Cavell Playground, a quiet neighborhood park in NE Minneapolis, was built into a hillside near one of the highest points in the city.
Besides a playground and a tot lot, this park offers tennis courts and a baseball field. The tot lot includes a structure we call the "sand factory". Kids can haul sand up with a pulley system and dump it down tubes to the ground. This is surprisingly engaging for bigger kids as well as the little ones.
One of my favorite features of this park is that they took the time to paint four-square and hopscotch courts on the sidewalk. Not many parks do that anymore. Bring a ball or a rock. In case you've forgotten how to play, here are some instructions for four squares and instructions for hopscotch.
There is a picnic area with built in chess boards on the tables -- bring your own pieces. The table top is a little loose, enabling sore losers to knock over the men after they lose. However, the chess board is metal, so if your checkers or chess pieces are magnetic, the loser will have to work harder to disrupt the board.
I did not see a grill, but if you bring your own, Cavell Playground is only a couple blocks from Ready Meats (Johnson Street and 36th) - where you can grab a few burgers or brats and some sides for an impromptu picnic. Picnic tables at this park are not reservable, but it is usually a very quiet park.
Also nearby is Hill Valley Cafe (Central Avenue and 33rd) and the Audubon Neighborhood shops and restaurants (Johnson Street and 28th), including Northeast Coffee Shop.
Sledding at Cavell Park
With the popular Columbia Golf Course sledding hill only a few blocks away, this park can be a forgotten gem for sledding with smaller children. Unlike many parks, the downhill slopes go into the park instead of toward a street or sidewalk. There is plenty of open space. Find more sledding hills here.
Sand Wasps at Cavell Park in Late Summer
During one late-summer visit to this park, we saw a lot of wasps hovering around the sand and cut our visit short. While I don't mind bees, yellow jackets are a good enough reason for me to stay away. That is why I'm sharing this information on sand wasps from MPRB. It turns out these were probably not yellow jackets, but male sand wasps. While they look similar to yellow jackets, sand wasps are non-aggressive and native pollinators. Males don't have stingers and females will leave you alone unless you invade their nest.