Meadowlark Park in Carmel | A Must-Visit Park Steps to the Monon Trail

Meadowlark Park in Carmel | A Must-Visit Park Steps to the Monon Trail

The Indianapolis area has no shortage of great parks. We are lucky to be surrounded by so many fantastic places to get out in nature or let our kids burn off some energy on a playground. There is, however, a must-visit to add to your list of parks to visit as Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation really outdid themselves with Meadowlark Park’s most recent upgrades.

Meadowlark Park has been a neighborhood gem for 30 years, offering an escape into nature and outdoor recreation just steps from the hustle and bustle of shops and restaurants. The 19-acre park underwent a complete redesign and reopened in 2022 with a completely new playground, pickleball courts, boardwalk and walking trail, picnic shelters, bathrooms, and parking lot. It is a completely new park with uniquely designed play structures and features that appeal to children of all ages.

a very tall play structure resembling treetops with tree trunks to climb up inside at meadowlark park. there are silver slides coming down from the structure.

Meadowlark Park is a Must-Visit

Meadowlark Park is nestled behind a neighborhood off Meadow Lane in Carmel, steps away from the Monon Trail and within walking distance from all the fun in the Carmel Arts and Design District and Midtown Plaza Carmel. My family has been to basically every park there is to see on the Northside of Indianapolis, and I can honestly say I have never seen a park like this one. There are nature trails winding through restored wetlands, pickleball courts, a full basketball court,  grassy green spaces, a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier, and a creek. For families with small children, the innovative and nature-inspired playground is the main event.

Explore the Playground

The playground’s three different play structures are all thoughtfully designed to accommodate different age ranges. Children young and old can easily play on the medium climbing structure. You will find rock walls, climbing ropes, ladders, and multiple slides in this first area to your left. Your kids will love the challenge of climbing from different angles and directions as they explore this fun and unique feature.

The middle structure was our favorite section of the park. Kids climb through this whimsically designed space into the treetops. The tree “trunks” incorporate the ladder to get into this canopy. Different pod-like units, filled with interesting climbing activities, evoke a leafy tree. Once your kids are ready to come down, they can select one of two different tunnel slides to bring them back to the ground. The tree structure is truly the highlight of this park, and it’s a playground feature we won’t soon forget.

a little girl stands on a play structure at meadowlark park. there is a ladder behind her to an entrance to the inside of the low play structure.

A Play Area Just for Toddlers

To the right of the tree play area is a toddler or preschool-sized climber. It is quite low to the ground and features a toddler slide, a climbing area, and sensory integration details on the lower section. This play space is perfect for kids 5 and under, who might not be quite ready for the large treetop section at the park.

On each side of the park are separate swing sets. Next to the toddler playground area, you will find two baby swings and one expression swing. Your kids will love being able to swing while facing each other! Opposite are two traditional swings and two accessible swings for those with physical differences who would benefit from over-the-shoulder support. With four different swing styles, Meadowlark Park has an option for all kids, regardless of age or physical ability.

two little girls stand on each side of a green teeter totter at meadowlark park on green turn with picnic tables in a picnic shelter behind them

Slide Down the Rolling Feature!

In the middle area of the playground are several different smaller play items. The spinning seats have nice, large backs to support your kiddos, so they don’t fall over. Additionally, there is a cooperative teeter-totter that requires bouncing and teamwork. You will also find a rope merry-go-round and a fun bouncing toy that seats up to two children. We loved one unusual rolling and crawling piece of equipment. With circular bars as your support, you pull, push, or slide yourself on rolling poles to move from one side to the other. It’s always fun to come across something new that we haven’t seen before!

When I visit a park, one of my favorite things to find is the rubberized turf surface and Meadowlark Park has it! I love visiting parks that incorporate this material because it is mud-free, eliminates splinters in the feet from mulch, and is wheelchair accessible and inclusive for everyone to use. It does heat up and get pretty hot on summer days, so keep that in mind when choosing shoes for your kiddos. Mine needed a good hiking sandal to climb and play at the park.

a toddler girl in a dress slides forward feet first with her hands holding onto the green circular bars over top as she slides down a slide with rolling bars which make a bumpy and slower ride

Walk the Nature Trails to the Fishing Pond

A paved nature trail loops around the entire park including the playground and greenspace. I like to start our time at the park with a walk around the loop so the kids can see the area and connect with nature. You will walk past woods, wetlands, over a creek, and over a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that connects to the parking lot. At the end of our playground time, we like to make the trek over to the fishing pond.

The pond at Meadowlark Park is the best fishing spot in Carmel. It’s part of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Urban Fishing Program, which means it’s carefully stocked with fish like rainbow trout and catfish each year. There is a wheelchair-accessible pier over the water so there is no worrying about slipping into the pond and kids can look straight down into the water. It’s a beautiful walk to the pond through mature trees and over a creek even if you are not going fishing.

three boys lay down on a large boardwalk with their heads hanging over the boardwalk looking down at the wetlands below at meadowlark park

Pick Up Pickleball

In addition to the full basketball court at Meadowlark Park, there are brand-new pickleball courts that can be used by anyone. There are four courts just off the parking lot with benches at the gate in case you have to wait for a court. This is a great place to introduce your family to pickleball as they can head to the playground if it isn’t working out for the younger ones.

Like tennis, ping pong, and badminton, pickleball is a sport that uses elements of serving the ball diagonally crosscourt to the opposite diagonal court and then volleying the ball back and forth. The game is played with pickleball paddles, which are larger than ping-pong paddles, and a plastic wiffle-like ball. It’s a great, active, outdoor pastime, perfect for families to enjoy together.

Conveniently Located Parking and Bathrooms

Parking is as close as you can get to the playground. Once you leave your car, the climbing structures are steps away. The bathrooms are located front and center, right before you enter the rubber turf play area. There are two separate family restrooms available, with baby changing tables located in each one. This awesome feature allows both male and female caregivers to quickly and easily help their little ones to the bathroom.

On the right and left of the bathrooms are two separate picnic shelters. They both provide ample shade and full views of the entire playground. The different playground zones were constructed using an “open concept” approach. This is a game-changer when you are watching multiple kids. Benches on both sides of the park give great vantage points for all the different activity areas.

a new restroom building sits in the middle of meadowlark park with two family restrooms flanking a drinking fountain and water bottle filling station

Step Onto the Monon Trail and Walk to Midtown

Hop on the Monon Trail, which is just steps away from Meadowlark Park, to explore miles of hiking and biking trails throughout Carmel. You can walk South on the trail and within a couple of minutes you’ll be in the center of the Carmel Arts & Design District. The area is a bustling area with restaurants, shops, art installations, a mini splash pad in front of Anthony’s Chop House, and the Monon Trail. Stop for ice cream at Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream, look for Carmel-themed gifts at All Things Carmel, shop at Silver in the City, sit on the patio at Peace Water Winery, taste olive oil at The Olive Mill, pick up baked goods at No Label at the Table, or play outdoor games while you wait for your table at Bub’s Burgers.

The next stop South on the Monon Trail is Midtown Plaza Carmel. Midtown offers restaurants, shops, a popcorn store, a splash pad, a playground, a candle-making shop, and a brewery surrounding an outdoor plaza where you can eat, drink, play pool and ping pong, watch a show on the big screen or listen to live music. Next to the playground are bocce ball and shuffleboard courts.

There are so many other parks and playgrounds in Carmel to visit. Check out all of the other wonderful things to do in Carmel with kids. Or, visit Carmel without kids and try one of these 22 Carmel date night ideas.

there is a playground with a wide concrete slide and a treetop canopy climbing structure enclosed with netting. a large red sign with MONON in white letters is the edge of the park. there is an apartent complex behind the park and to the other side is the monon trail

Meadowlark Park is truly a one-of-a-kind playground in Carmel and is a must-visit for your summer bucket list. Pack lunch and spend hours playing and exploring. The park is surrounded by trails, for even more scenic walks after your time at the playground.

What are you favorite things to do at Meadowlark Park? Share your Meadowlark Park comments and photos with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids in Indy!

450 Meadow Lane

Visit Meadowlark Park in Carmel | A Must-Visit Park Steps to the Monon Trail

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