Winter is officially upon us! While we parents may be dreaming of snuggling on the couch with a good book, our kids still need to get out and PLAY. We have compiled the best of the best parks and playgrounds for winter fun, from exciting sledding hills to peaceful nature walks. So get yourself some wool socks and head out there to explore.
5301 E St. Clair Street, Indianapolis
Ellenberger Park in Irvington is comprised of 42 acres of gently rolling landscape and mature trees. The landscape provides ample opportunity for sledding or investigating very large puddles that have frozen over. For less adventurous kids, head down to the creek. Pleasant Run Creek and Trail are at the south end of the park. The Pleasant Run Trail is a 6.9-mile path that begins at Ellenberger Park (north point) and runs to Garfield Park (south point). Look for a more formal sledding hill in the future in a designated area adjacent to the northeast parking area.
2450 S Shelby Street, Indianapolis
On the near southside, you will find Indy’s oldest park, Garfield Park. It serves as the endpoint for the Pleasant Run Trail and covers 136 acres. During the month of December, the Conservatory has a festive train-themed holiday display. Garfield has a variety of programming all year long. Winter activities include bird watching, preschool story times, and craft opportunities. Don’t forget your sleds! Garfield Park allows sledding from dawn to dusk.
Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park
6000 N Post Road, Indianapolis
Located in Lawrence township on the northeast side of Marion County is Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. The sledding hill at Fort Ben is impressive. The main area is best for older kids and the side hill is better for the preschool crowd. Many residents enjoy a winter hike at Fort Ben and even cross-country skiing. Bonus points – there is a bathroom by the parking lot at the sledding hill. You will have to pay a small entrance fee to enjoy the park.
7840 W 56th Street, Indianapolis
Indy’s biggest park is Eagle Creek Park. It offers a huge variety of programming and has 2 nature centers, the Earth Discovery Center and the Ornithology Center. Check out Facebook and their website for the latest class offerings. This park is designated for cross-country skiing in the winter. Personal equipment is required as there are no rentals in the park. Eagle Creek also has over 16 miles of trails, a bark park, and 20 exercise stations on the Fitness Trail on the north end. There is a fee to enter and use this park.
6363 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis
New in 2022 is the outdoor, real ice rink at Holliday Park. Open from just after Thanksgiving to the end of January, this rink is able to stay open even in slightly warmer temps. If your crowd isn’t into skating, you can enjoy hitting the trails or checking out the ruins. The nature center is engaging; the bird and wildlife observation area offers numerous feeding stations with a sound system to allow viewers to hear the birds.
Paul Ruster Park
11300 E. Prospect Street, Indianapolis
This 82-acre park has a little bit of everything – a playground, a trail, a fishing pond, a bark park, and a sledding/snowboarding hill. The trail, which runs along Buck Creek, is a little over a mile long. The sledding hill is a big one, better for older kids.
5621 S. Carroll Road, Indianapolis
Southeastway Park is a 188-acre nature park located in the SE corner of Marion Co. It has a fantastic sledding hill for snowy days. It also has a nature center and playground. This park is designed for cross-country skiing if you bring your own equipment. Want to add a bit of education to your outdoor adventures? In late winter (Feb-March), you can check out one of their special maple syrup events! For a small fee, participants will explore the sugar bush, learn how maple syrup was made in the past, see it being made at the park, and taste it for themselves.
400 W Church Street, Fortville
Memorial Park has a sledding hill behind the skate park on the east side of the park. This hill is popular for families with younger kiddos who might not be ready to brave the steeper/bigger hills.
Helen Pecar Memorial Park
5203 E County Road 150 N, Avon
Pecar Park & Nature Center is a unique space that has a traditional playground, a nature center, and overnight primitive camping opportunities. It is also home to Raccoon Lagoon. The nature center has some great educational opportunities all year long. Check Facebook and their website for the most current offerings, but events such as Critter Feeding, toddler and preschool story times, and crafting opportunities are sure to appeal to a wide range of families.
1500 S. Center Street, Plainfield
Hummel Park offers numerous activities and amenities for all ages throughout its 205 acres. You will find White Lick Creek flowing through the middle of the park, two playgrounds, and a sledding hill. A larger playground for older children was recently redesigned to be more inclusive, while a smaller one is built just for toddlers. There is a super cool bridge joining the east and west ends of the park, the Red Maple Path wooden bridge. During the winter, Hummel Park is a great place to go sledding! For this winter activity, enter the park at the west entrance off Sugar Grove Road.
850 Stop 18 Road, Greenwood
Freedom Park in located in SW Greenwood and is home to some great summertime activities, like disc golf and an aquatic center. This park is a sledding dream in the winter as the large hill is good for all ages. Bonus points for the steps to help haul that sleds back up the hill.
451 E Stop 11 Road, Indianapolis
Perry Park offers an ice skating rink, a seasonal outdoor pool, outdoor basketball and tennis courts, two shelters with picnic tables, a playground, and a sports field. At the indoor skating rink, you can enjoy activities like ice skating, hockey, and broomball from fall to spring. If you want to use the ice rink, be sure to check their website for public skate times and any closures due to hockey tournaments. Perry Park Ice Rink does have an admission fee. Skates and Skate helpers can be rented for an additional fee.
Make your furry family members happy by checking out the bark park. Dog park passes for the Smock Bark Park, which is located at the corner of Sherman and County Line Road, are available at the Perry Park office.
Fishers Heritage Park
10598 Eller Road, Fishers
At the intersection of Eller Road and 106th lies the entrance to Fishers Heritage Park, not to be confused with River Heritage Park in Carmel, less than two miles away. With the White River to the west, Heritage Park is a scenic park filled with walking trails, family and pet-friendly events, birdwatching, a sledding hill, and the lovely Historic Ambassador House & Heritage Gardens. When going to Fishers Heritage for sledding, take the road past the house, and past the memorial to the parking lot. The hill has a steeper side for big kids and a gentler hill to the side for the less adventurous. If hitting the trail, feel free to take Fido as you will see lots of furry friends here. The trail is under a mile and has easy terrain.
Flat Fork Creek
16141 E 101st Street, Fishers
Flat Fork, located to the east of the intersection of Cyntheanne and 101st street in Fishers, is just over 60 acres and boasts unique and diverse amenities and activities for every age, ability, and interest. Flat Fork is best known for the sledding hill but also features a 1.25-mile mountain bike course throughout the woods, a fishing pond, and a variety of trails. The park includes several treehouses for observing wildlife and getting a scenic view. There is a multi-use trail that encircles the park. It’s paved, so it’s perfect for strollers and wheelchairs. The 60-foot sledding hill includes a paved ramp along one side. As the tallest point in Hamilton Country, it’s a super cool view.
Simon Moon Park
3044 E 171st Street, Westfield
How about something for the younger kids? Check out Simon Moon, off Carey Road in Westfield. At 5.5 acres, this smaller park features a shelter, playground, and sledding hill. There is a little play house for pretend play and a teeter-totter. The sledding hill is gentle, perfect for the preschool crowd.
2700 W 116th Street, Carmel
West Park may be known for the super cool splash pad canyons, but it is also great to head there in the winter. The two-story sledding hill has a gradual walkway up the hill to make the trek to the top easier for both kids and parents. The park gets bonus points for a nature playground within walking distance. A nature trail leads to the Nature Adventure Playground at Jill Perelman Pavilion. This playground has natural-looking climbing structures, balancing challenges, cargo nets to climb o,n and even a zipline. It’s two parks in one!
701 Cicero Road, Noblesville
Just north of downtown Noblesville is Forest Park, which covers 150 acres and has basically every single “park” thing you can imagine. A golf course, outdoor pool, skate park, a big sledding hill, sand volleyball, several playgrounds, a carousel, and mini golf are just a selection. No matter the time of year, you can spend a full day here enjoying the many attractions. If you go to Forest Park for sledding, the hill runs from the Forest Park Lodge to the Forest Park Inn, both of which offer plenty of parking. The hill varies in steepness between the two buildings.
Strawtown Koteewi Park
12308 Strawtown Avenue, Noblesville
Koteewi park is truly unique. The Taylor Nature Center educates visitors on an American Indian village that was inhabited on the site more than 700 years ago. The Koteewi Trace exhibit is a comprehensive outdoor interpretive archaeological exhibit featuring a wide variety of components including full-scale, American Indian structures. Additionally, Koteewi is home to some unique outdoor adventures. In the winter, check out Koteewi Run, central Indiana’s only groomed snow tubing hill. Slide down 700-foot-long groomed lanes in custom snow tubes to a soft landing, and then ride a tow line back to the top for another run. As this activity requires specific weather, please check online or call Koteewi Run before heading out.
Hopefully, this list of 18 central Indiana parks will give your family some great ideas for entertainment this winter, and in all seasons.