Alps Park is well-known for having one of the best views of the Japan Alps in Matsumoto, but it is also a great place to visit if you have kids. With the park’s wide range of outdoor playground equipment, petting zoo, and plenty of places to explore nature, kids (and adults!) are going to have a blast at this park!
Of course, for an experience in the «deep nature» of Matsumoto, you’ll probably want to head out into the mountains or Kamikochi, but this park is perfect if your kids (or friend’s kids) are too young yet you still want to have some fun outdoors. (I was with my friend’s less-than-two-year-old toddler, so any hiking was out of the question)
You can get here by car, bus, or taxi. If you’re taking the bus, use the Alps Park Line bus which you can catch from Matsumoto Bus Terminal by the station. Note that the bus only runs twice a day (departing 10:00 and 14:00), so make sure you plan accordingly, especially for your return trip (Schedule PDF in Japanese)
We parked at the East Parking Lot and at the entrance, we were greeted by a long bridge over a ravine. Continuing on, the park paths are surrounded by trees and views of the surroundings, so it’s nice to come here for simply taking walks or jogging. We caught a glimpse of a couple of pretty wild birds, too!
For kids, head to the Kids Adventure Plaza (子供冒険広場). It is full of super fun playground equipment, obstacle course, a huge climbing wall that looks like a mountain, and different kinds of slides.
This big play structure below was popular with the kids at the park, as it had different kinds of slides, a wobbly bridge, rope-and-ball swings, and fun obstacles:
I personally really like the climbing wall. It was set up with handholds, ropes, ledges, and all kinds of fun ways you could try to make your way up to the top. Climbing would be too dangerous for really small children, but I think later elementary school kids and up could handle it. Not to mention it’s a blast for adults too!
Alps Park even has a small zoo that’s free of charge, which includes a petting zoo where the kids can pet goats and guinea pigs. The other animals you can see are monkeys, different kinds of birds of prey, wild boars, horses, and more.
The park isn’t very green in the winter, but the view of the mountains tends to be nicer because the air is clearer and there is more snow on the peaks. Still, if you want to enjoy the trees, flowers, and greenery, I’d recommend going in the spring, summer, or fall. This is also an excellent place for cherry blossom viewing!
Besides the things I mentioned in this post, the park also has a nature museum, a huge slide coaster called the Alps Dream Coaster, and several tables where you can enjoy having a picnic.