4 Kids: Šťastná země (Happy Land)

Expats.cz travels to the all-natural outdoor play area

Eva Howlings

Written by Eva Howlings
Published on 20.07.2011 13:52 (updated on 20.07.2011)

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Šťastná země is a large, all-natural outdoor play area and Nature Discovery Trail (Geo Park). There are climbing structures, play houses, platforms with springs to ride on, things to spin on, and more. There are a few farm animals and pony rides. It is the brainchild of Czech playground manufacturer Tomovy Parky, located next door, and serves as a showcase of their assortment of equipment.

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Near Liberec in a small town called Radvánovice, off the main road, you make a left when you see the Šťastná země sign (right before Penzion U Marušky.)

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Between 1.5 and 2 hours from Prague.

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After the kids have done it all on the playground (about two hours) you can begin the Discovery trail, called Geo Park, which can take half an hour and upwards depending how in-depth you get with the demos along the way.

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Shoes must be removed for jumping on the bouncy pillows, but they get very hot so make sure to bring socks for that. While there aren’t any water features apart from a shower next to the pillows, the Geo Park includes a few activities where you have to get water from a nearby creek to use on the activities; my kids got dirty and wet in no time.

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The Geo Park is great, but you have to know about it. It’d be best to do the trail first, while you have plenty of time and energy. The entrance is tucked behind the playground, at the edge of the woods. It’s cooler in there, so bring long sleeves. There is also an area where red, blue and white string is tied to carved tree trunks. The purpose is to choose a color thread and follow it from start to end without taking your hand off. It’s more fun when lots of people play. On Mondays in July there are special activities – the 2nd is Creative Day, the 7th is Theater Workshop, the 16th is Color Day, the 23rd is for Czech Fairy Tales (Pohádky), and the 30th is Battle Day.

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This fare comes out of the freezer and goes straight into the deep fryer, but for food of that variety it’s not so bad. The fries were decent. The draft beer, Mušketýr 11, cost 1.5 clovers (30 CZK). There didn’t seem to be a policy against bringing your own food and eating in their lovely table area, which is non-smoking and looks out over the scenic skály (tower cliff structures) that pepper this region. 

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We came on a Friday, the lot was empty and free. On weekends it costs 20 CZK for the whole day.

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The season is April 24th – Sept 30th. It’s open every day from 9.00 – 19.00, and on holidays until 20.00.

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There are large bouncy pillows and zip cords to amuse even big kids, but it’s kids aged 2 – 10 that will get the most out of this place.

https://www.expats.cz/resources/safety.jpgThe play area is enclosed and is covered with good, thick grass, but the grass can harbor bees so wear shoes (unlike mine, who got stung.) The equipment is made of sturdy wood, treated for splintering. However, there’s one ride that is best avoided: the little soap box car that slides down a slope of metal rollers. I saw kids hurting themselves on that thing all the time.

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https://www.expats.cz/resources/vlueformoney.jpgEntrance is 80 CZK for every person above the age of 2, so it’s a good deal considering how much fun you can have. Despite the long drive, it costs much less than indoor play areas, and we got out into some beautiful scenery.

TIP To Get More out of your Trip:
There is some great hiking in the area (see our article on Český ráj). The town has a family-friendly restaurant with bowling. Take the short drive up to Hrubá Skála to view a gorgeous old castle perched on a cliff, and the adrenaline ropes course located in the moat.

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FEATURED EMPLOYERS

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When we walked from the car to the pokladna (cash desk), I saw my kids abandoned bikes. They had ditched the bikes and run ahead, apparently not having to pay, and I didn’t track them down for half an hour. That’s what Happy Land is like. Meanwhile, I had a bit of work to do so I camped out with my laptop and our drinks at a very comfortable, shady table surrounded by trees (but no wi-fi). The playground is big, but natural, and there were a few innovative things I hadn’t seen before, like a boat on springs and a rocking horse. Everything is wood, nothing is plastic or mechanical. It looks like they’re planning some kind of electrical cars in 2011, but the “car” I saw pictured is a log – with wheels.

Snow White has her own village here,  made of 7 adorable little cottages. There are all kinds of things to swing on, climb up, and slide down here. The wood is all carved to look a bit wonky – adding to the charm. It’s a pretty place. At the end of the area there are three “air trampolines”, which are bouncy pillows big enough for whole families at a time: one for big people, one for in-betweeners, and a teeny low one for beginners. Once the season is underway, the creations begin to appear. These are large structures – like animals and trees – built out of hay. It adds a special, playful atmosphere.

The best part, in my opinion, is the Geo Park. I’m a huge fan of nature trails in general, especially ones geared towards kids, because they combine learning with easy hiking, and this was very nicely done. Since this is Cesky Raj, the trail passes beautiful cliffs with unique features, like a honeycomb effect. The plaques teach about the local geology, for example by showing various crystal formations. At one point you make your own river, with sediment deposits, to learn how flow alters landscape, and another station has you working on a large-scale puzzle with pictures of local scenery. The final challenge is walking on the small platforms that form a path over a boggy-looking pond. Don’t fall in! Don’t worry, there’s a safer dirt path on the other side.

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There were a few places in the town that looked nice. Pension Olda is in walking distance and has a pool. Pension Jana (tel. 481 389 278) has great views. For a more upscale experience, stay in one of the hotels near the castle: either Hotel Štekl or the hotel located within the castle itself: which can be booked here.


 

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