Buchanan Field Playground and Observation Area in Concord is a must-visit destination for little ones who are all about airplanes. It is a working airport with a playground. Plus, it’s free and there’s plenty of parking.
Buchanan Field is a public airport located in Concord. A few commercial flights depart from the terminal, but the majority of aircrafts are flown by private pilots as a hobby or in associate with a pilot training program. The playground and observation area are located next to the control tower, at the end of John Glen Drive.
Buchanan Field Playground Features
Location: 201 John Glenn Dr, Concord, CA 94520
Unique Features: Small play area is great for imaginary play with an airplane that can fit 4 tots and a play structure that resembles a ticket counter, baggage claim, and control tower. There’s also a mini replica of Buchanan Field’s runways painted on the ground.
Fenced in? Yes, hooray!
Surfaces: The playground and observation area sit on a former parking lot. The asphalt ground isn’t forgiving but makes a great space for scootering or biking. A local parent mentioned that families often use the space for bike riding practice.
Bathroom: Yes, there’s a public toilet trailer just outside the playground’s fence.
Lunch tables & seating: Several tables with large umbrellas overhead are situated next to the play area, plus benches and bleachers are positioned near the runway for prime viewing.
Parking: Easy and free parking is widely available, though you may need to walk a short distance to the playground.
Shade: There is only shade near the picnic tables. Bring a hat with a strap because it gets windy here.
Pros: Ideal for preschoolers based on the size of the play structure and opportunities for imaginative play; lots of wide open space; airplanes take off about every 10 minutes, more frequently on weekends; clean; and fully fenced in.
Cons: Limited shade; windy; hot temperatures during summer months; planes are generally quiet, but could be disturbing to sensitive ears.
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Play Structure at Concord’s Airport
The play structure is basic with only two pieces of equipment; but, they open the door to so many imaginative play opportunities. My preschooler pretended to be a pilot, mechanic, ticket agent, airplane, and an entire traveling family during our visit. Three is probably the magic age for the playground area. Older children may not be able to sit on the airplane or be as entertained.
The painted runways offer another space to imagine, play, and run around. Kids can bring their own trucks, bikes, or toys from home to bring the surface to life. My daughter enjoyed running up and down the various runways like an airplane. I thought it was a great way to burn off some energy before the drive home.
While I was visiting, another parent mentioned that many children learn to ride a bike on the smooth asphalt. The fenced-in area is spacious and set apart from the picnic tables and playground. Just be prepared with protective pads or bandages in the event of a fall.
Buchanan Field Observation Area
The dedicated observation seating includes a couple of benches and stadium-style bleachers. It’s a no-frills space, but the plane sightings make up for that. We watched a handful of planes take off and fly high, plus several taxi past us. It was fun to observe the various styles and colors of the aircraft.
Planes are easily in view from any area in the public spaces. Toddlers may prefer to play and watch the planes, rather than formally sitting in the observation area. Thanks to the fence, parents don’t need to fret as much about their children wandering away while pointing out an airplane or jet. Take-offs seemed to happen one every 8-10 minutes or so. I’m told the airport is busier on weekends, so little ones don’t have to wait as long to watch a plane lift off.
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The Bottom Line on Buchanan Field Playground and Observation Area for Families
Buchanan Field is a must-see for plane enthusiasts—both big and small. It offers spectacular views of planes compared to viewing areas at SFO or OAK. You’ll feel like a VIP with the access and proximity the observation area offers. The airport-themed playground lets little imaginations soar. Bring a snack, hat, and light jacket for a day of high-flying, free fun!