Kamalani Playground at Lydgate
Just a few minutes away from the Lihue Airport is a special place called Kamalani Playground, located at Lydgate Park. Think back to your elementary jungle gym, but imagine larger. It's a nice spot to bring your family for a casual day out, especially because Kamalani Playground is perfectly situated next to a large open soccer field, beachside pavilion, and in walking distance to Morgon's Ponds. One of the best things about having the Kamalani Playground so close to the airport is it provides a good hang out for you and your family whether you've got a later flight and need to burn some time or maybe you arrived a little too early for your check-in at a nearby hotel or vacation home.
Kamalani Playground was incepted back in 1994. Bob Leathers of Leathers and Associates drafted the designs and former Kauai Councilmember Tim Bynum organized the project. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Leathers consulted with children around the island to seek what kind of things they wanted to see in the new playground. Although, what truly made this idea a reality is the work done by 7,000 Kauai residents who volunteered their time to construct it. From this project, a volunteer group formed and was named The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, who currently help maintain Kamalani Playground. The first detail you'll notice is the architecture of the playground; it is almost entirely built of wood vs. the modern plastic and metal structures. Then, you see the various pieces of ceramic art and Hawaiian woodcarvings throughout that provide a unique blend of engineering and artistic talent. The playground has everything from swings, bridges, and slides, to mazes of hidden passageways, even seating areas for parents. The grounds are padded with soft sawdust to help absorb any serious falls.
If you're planning a picnic, the Kamalani Playground at Lydgate Park is a great place to go. It's been years since I've actually played there because, well, it's been years since I was a little kid. But, I assure you no matter what age you are there is going to be a little bit of an urge to go exploring. It is honestly a really amazing piece of work, not only because of the craftsmanship, but because it was something the community produced, so there's even more to appreciate.