Unstructured outdoor play isn’t just kids’ stuff—it’s essential for the healthy development of young minds and bodies. As free time increasingly gets replaced by screen time, however, too many kids are missing out on the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of getting their hands dirty.
Wander Woods is a wild antidote to our digital world. Under the gnarled branches of old-growth cypress trees and amid beautiful new native plantings, kids can cavort on giant logs and boulders, meander through tree trunk mazes, navigate wheelchair-accessible paths, and survey the scene from inside a whimsical nest structure. Through outdoor play, fine motor skills, critical thinking, and creativity are strengthened, and lifelong connections to the natural world take root.
Birds, bugs, dirt, rocks, and trees? Yes, please! Whether it’s sorting seashells, building a den, or crawling through a log, Wander Woods offers a variety of spaces for kids to activate their senses and investigate the world around them.
Perched on the hillside is the Nest, the fantastical focal point of Wander Woods. Evoking the complex nests built by bowerbirds and weaverbirds, the structure’s interwoven branches inspire everything from “I spy” to hide-and-seek.
Lush and local
Regenerating the natural world starts right in our backyard. The shrubs, trees, and plants selected for Wander Woods are native to the region and serve to bolster local biodiversity and attract pollinators like hummingbirds and pipevine swallowtail butterflies.
Reducing our environmental impact is integral to all Academy projects. All the wood used for Wander Woods’ play features was salvaged from the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, and the Learning Space structure was built from sustainably sourced redwood. Additionally, the hillside path is made of permeable concrete, helping to reduce runoff and recharge groundwater.