For such a green prefecture, Niigata isn't always the easiest place to find somewhere for the little ones to feel the grass under their toes. Thankfully there are some great parks dotted in amongst all the mountains and rice fields, and one of the very best that we have found is the Mori Park in Yairo, just next to Urasa.
It is heaven for children. Inflatable trampolines, giant inflatable balls, climbing frames, tunnels, masses of space, a pond and even a small stream to paddle in. Parents can keep an eye on the mischief from the shade of the covered stage while enjoying the views of the mountains, or prepare lunch at the BBQ area. If you don't fancy dining alfresco, the Echigo Winery (and its air-conditioned restaurant and liquid refreshment) is the other side of the road. There is even a small cultural museum dedicated to life in Snow Country that has a basement with snow packed into cavities in the walls to provide balmy cool in the heat of summer. Yairo is famous for its watermelon if you fancy a summer snack, or if you prefer your treats colder, Gelataria Yummy serves up delicious home-made ice cream a short stroll away.
You know it is a good park when the kids leave exhausted and the parents relaxed.
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