Carmel is home to so many amazing parks, and the west side is home to a wide variety of options. From your traditional play structure parks, to a more unique children’s garden, the west side is worth exploring with your littles.
For each park, you’ll find:
“Wins” and “Watch Outs” list
Overall rating for specific age groups–babies/pre-walkers, toddler/walkers, and ages 5+.
Scale -- 1 is not a good option for that age group, 5 is the best.
Rating on ease for a one-parent outing -- scale: easy, neutral, hard.
My reviews are tailored for younger age groups based on my experience with my kids! The goal is to give you the information you need to feel prepared heading into the park, all while ensuring you and your kiddos have a great time!
The Groves Playground
3000 W 116th St, Carmel, IN
Affectionately known as the “zip-line” park in my household, this (literal) hidden gem can be found just behind the Jill Perelman Pavilion on Carmel’s west side. Built into the woods, the two main play areas are made out of sanded timber themselves. If you have a climber in your family, this park is for you.
The park is split into two sections, connected by the zip-line. The front section is designed for smaller kids with obstacles that are easier to climb/maneuver. The back-section is designed like a low-ropes course for a little more advanced climbers.
The park is completely shaded!
The zip-line is easy for all ages. It doesn’t go too fast and it’s not high off the ground. My boys started riding by themselves at ~15 months.
It’s a mulch park. Front to back, side to side, the floor of the entire playspace is mulch.
It’s a small park in terms of square footage. If there are lots of kids there, you can have to wait in line to use things like the zip-line. Although because of its hidden nature, it is rarely crowded.
No slides or swings.
RATING BY AGE GROUP:
Age 5+: 5
EASE FOR A ONE PARENT OUTING: EASY
Coxhall Gardens Children’s Garden
11677 Towne Rd, Carmel, IN
Located in the back corner of the larger Coxhall Gardens park, the Children’s Garden is a breath of fresh air in comparison to your traditional playground. In the gardens, you’ll find a replica “town” full of children sized houses and businesses–perfect for games of make believe. There is an alphabet rainbow road stretching along the backside of the area, great for learning colors and letters. There are bridges to cross, sand areas to dig in, and tunnels to walk through. If you’re looking for a break from the traditional playground structures, this is an unique option.
There are lots of sections in the gardens to play in all with different features, keeping their attention for a long time.
Great for imaginative + cognitive play in combination with gross motor.
Large parts of the gardens are shaded with paved or cement floor.
There is access to a pond/nature area off the backside of the park with a walking trail around the pond. Fun place to look for creatures and throw rocks in the water.
There are sand and water features in the center of the gardens. The kids are welcome to play in these areas, but be sure to bring a towel and baby powder to clean them up after!
Overall park visibility is lower–meaning, you can’t really stand in one spot and see your child the entire time. With it being designed in sections, one section isn’t really visible from another. This can make it tricky if you have multiple kiddos wanting to play in different areas.
RATING BY AGE GROUP:
Age 5+: 5
EASE FOR A ONE PARENT OUTING: NEUTRAL
2700 W. 116th Street Carmel, IN
*Check back for an update on West Park. The playground has been closed since the summer of 2020 for updates. There is a target reopen date in August 2022.*