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Friday 31 March 2023

Junkyard Social Club

Have you ever been to a junkyard playground?

You might not think that those two words go together - I mean, they do sound at odds with each other - but when combined in just the right may they come together to make something truly magical!

Junkyard Social Club in Boulder is one such place where "junkyard" and "playground" come together in the most unexpected way. This amazing space is home to play structures and equipment created from repurposed junk. Can you imagine a playhouse made of wooden crates, recycled timber, old sinks, baseball bats, bike wheels and number plates? Or a stage and climbing structure made of reclaimed timber, skis and baseball bats? Or maybe umbrellas made of Volkswagen Beetle hoods atop a cable reel table? What about a giant giraffe sculpture made of scrap metal and bones? You don't need to imagine any of these fantastical things because they all exist at Junkyard Social Club and you can see them in the photos below!

Junkyard Social Club opened up in Boulder a few years back and I've been meaning to take the kids ever since I first learned about it. We finally made it there during Spring Break this week and it was even more amazing than I had imagined it would be.

Junkyard Social Club is so much more than just a playground. While the outdoor area with its towering play house climbing structure is the main attraction, indoors you'll find a café space with plenty of seating, indoor climbing and play areas, an upstairs makerspace, works areas for classes, workshops and camps, and even a bar for the grown ups. With snowy Winters and hot Summers, the combination of indoor and outdoor spaces is perfect for Colorado families. There's a little bit of everything no matter the weather.

The outside areas is definitely the highlight though. We lucked out with perfect Spring weather (a day after it had been rather snowy) and so the kids spent the majority of time playing outside. The playhouse climbing structure was Mathilde's favorite. She spent such a long time climbing over it, crawling under it, sliding down the slides, and playing with the sand kitchen at the top where she hauled bucketloads of sand from below to tip through the sink.

Lola helped Mathilde out with her sand pouring exploits, but her favorite part of the play area was the swings. These swings look fairly normal, but with an extra tall frame and extra long chains their reach was pretty far. Lola was pretty excited to learn that if she swung high enough she could reach the top of the metal umbrellas over the closest cable reel table!   

A pink roofless Volkswagen Beetle and an old school bus were also a hit. The Beetle's seat is decorated in brightly colored seatbelts while the bus features a font seating area made of old skis. Oddly, not once did either of the kids yell "punch buggy" and punch me while we were there! They totally missed that opportunity!

There are plenty of other car parts to play with, or under, too. I mentioned the Volkswagen hood umbrellas that dot the outdoor space earlier. These are really creative and were one of my favorite things. They are strung with lights underneath for night time events. There are also lots of tires all around the outdoor area. Kids were stacking these, climbing inside of them, using them as an obstacle course, rolling them at parents... Ok, that last one might've just been my kids! 

There's an outdoor stage area (as well as a smaller stage space indoors) that kids can use for performances as well as a play platform. Underneath there are tunnels, but I couldn't convince either Lola or Mathilde to go check them out. The backdrop of the stage is also a bridge shaped climbing structure that features ladder rungs made of metal baseball bats and a fence made from skis. 

There's a shaded sand play area with plenty of repurposed kitchen utensils for kids to get creative with as well as some classic toys. Mathilde filled colanders, donut baking trays, saucepans, and traffic cones with sand over and over. 

Two of my favorite things about Junkyard Social Club are the fact that they cater to parents just as much as they do kids (there is a LOT of seating outside as well as inside as well as a fully stocked café and bar) and the fact that they have incorporated messages of social justice into the area. A colorful mural calling for justice for Elijah McClain, a young Black man who was killed by Aurora police, was one of the first things that struck me when we walked outside. In the café space there is a large Black Lives Matter painting hanging above couches. Outside of Junkyard Social Club, the fence features a large pro choice mural.  

Speaking of the inside area, lets take a look at it. There's plenty of seating for families that want to take a break from playing to eat, for friends to catch up over a coffee, or even for parents who need to work on a lap tap while their kids play. There are also quite a few comfy couches. Kids friendly snacks and drinks are available along with a full coffee menu. There's also a bar for the parents - and for adults only events. The interior is just as quirky as the outdoor space with lots of upcycled creations on display, murals and fun signs - even on the bathroom doors. The inside area also features plenty of rainy/snowy day play with an indoor climbing area, lots of puzzles, games, magnetic blocks and Lego. 

Junkyard Social Club is located at 2525 Frontier Ave, Unit A, Boulder. 

It's open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am to 6pm. Entry is $12 for kids ages 2 and up. Adults are free but a $5 donation is suggested. Monthly memberships are available for $40 per family.

Camps, classes, concerts and adults only events are also held fairly regularly. 

For more information about visiting Junkyard Social Club head to https://junkyardsocialclub.org/.

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