As a father of three (with another on on the way) it goes without saying that I, like all dads, have had to become a bit of a park and playground expert over the years. So, taking advantage of the brief break in the snow and rain that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, I thought I'd hit the town with the kiddos and zero in on the best of the best. So, without further ado, here are the top five playgrounds in Casper.

#5 - Highland Park

Located just behind the Casper Rec Center, on the corner of Beverly and 4th Streets, the playground at Highland Park is frequently overlooked, but if you take a few minutes to think about it, you'll see that there is really no better place to start a sunny Saturday.

First of all, the playground itself sits atop a grassy hill, the benefits of which should be pretty obvious (if you are old enough to use the internet but have never rolled down a hill, you should probably get out more).

In addition to a rock climbing wall and three-channel, racing-style slide - the highlight of this playground is definitely the three-story spiral slide, which just might be the tallest slide in all of Casper. Parents, look away. This slide is huge, so huge is fact, I am going to slap a personal disclaimer on it by saying that no kid under 3 should brave it without the supervision of at least an older brother or sister.

The icing on the Highland Park cake is that if the clouds roll in, you're already at the Rec Center, so you can head inside for some basketball, volleyball or a dip in the pool at the Casper Family Aquatics Center.

#4 - Susie McMurry Park

If you're in the mood for something a little off-the-beaten-path, then the Susie McMurry Park is just what you're looking for. Located at the corner of Newport and 21st, near Centennial Junior High, this playground is just right for a quiet afternoon getaway.

Located well away from any major streets, this "boutique" park boasts two separate playgrounds to accommodate tots and big kids alike. Add a full compliment of slides, swings and other bouncy things, and you've got a rock-solid after-school stop.

If it's lunch you have mind, then the covered picnic tables and gorgeous view of Casper Mountain make Susie McMurry Park the perfect destination for a picnic with the kids.

#3 - Washington Park

Located right in the middle of Casper, at 11th and Jefferson Streets, not only does Washington Park boast a baseball field, tennis courts, a swimming pool, two large grass fields, Casper's only band shell and the best sledding hill in town, it is also home to one of the best playgrounds in the city.

With three separate play structures, there is something for everyone at the "Park on the Hill." - Fast slides, slow slides, a rock climbing wall and all the other doo-dads that we have come to expect from a modern playground, my kids always seem to gravitate toward the swings. I couldn't tell you why... perhaps they go faster than other swings.

As for myself, the factor that pushes the playground at Washington Park to the top of the list is purely personal. It is just a few blocks from my childhood home... so it will always have a special place in my heart.

#2 - Crossroads Adventure Playground

Now, I know that I'm going to catch some heat from the nieces and nephews over this one. When asked, most kids (and parents) would probably point to this as the #1 playground in town, but I have to respectfully disagree. Don't get me wrong, the Crossroads Adventure Playground is amazing, just not quite #1 in my book.

Located just off of Poplar in North Casper, The obvious appeal to this playground is in look and feel of it. Can you say, "Tree Fort?"  There is nothing else like it in Casper.

For the parents - "Castle Park" is fully enclosed, with only one exit so you don't have to have eyes on kids for the duration.

For the kids - if you can dream it, it exists at Crossroads Adventure Playground. Countless slides, Big kid swings, toddler swings, tire swings, plank bridges, balance beams, bouncy animals, the list goes on and on.

One additional advantage to this playground is that it is adjacent to both Mike Lansing Field, the home of the Casper Ghosts, and the Platte River Parkway. Don't settle for an afternoon at the park, add a nice walk along the river, or take in a ballgame and you can't lose!

#1 - Verda James Park

Within walking distance from Casper's Eastridge Mall, Verda James Park  is located right next to Verda James Elementary School, on Carriage Lane.

Boasting a whopping 24 swings and literally countless climbing structures, this is by far the most extensive playground that I have ever been to in Casper. We spent the entire day at Verda James last year for the 4th of July and believe me, with over 12 kids in attendance, no one was bored for even a minute.

As with many of the playgrounds listed in this list, there are separate play structures for the little ones. In addition to that, for you playground-purists, there is an entire section of the playground that is built out of wood, just like you remember from when you were a kid!

On top of the playgrounds, Verda James also offers a massive grass field big enough to handle soccer, football or tossing a ball for Fido. Plus, there is the crown jewel that really sets this park apart from all the others - the walkway across Wyoming Blvd! No kid can resist the urge to run up and over the fenced in bridge. Who am I kidding? It's pretty fun for the grown ups too!