Written by Stephanie Miskowiec
After a long closure for renovations, West Park in Carmel has reopened and boasts many new and unique features. This reimagined park includes new playground equipment, a seasonal splash pad, increased parking, year-round restrooms, and improved walking trails. You can find West Park in west Carmel near the 116th Street and Towne Road intersection.
West Park Open After 2 Years of Renovations
West Park, one of the larger parks in Carmel, is one of several area parks that have recently undergone reconstruction. Plans for the park enhancements were first unveiled in 2016. Rather than solely obtaining input from professional designers and architects, city officials gave local school-aged children an opportunity to provide feedback in focus groups. The consensus was to focus on originality in the design of West Park, while also including many natural elements. The park closed in August 2020 to begin the overhaul process and reopened with much anticipation in October 2022.
Splash Pad Combined with Playground
What can a visitor expect to find when they visit this updated park? One pronounced element is the integration of the playground structures and the splash park. During the summer months, children will be able to climb, slide, swing, and splash as these elements are all included in the general play area. The playground is also unique in its varied elevations. Two separate play areas are connected by a winding sidewalk and a bridge overlooking the splash pad. A metal tube slide also connects the upper and lower play areas. Parents may be glad to hear that the ground cover in the playground is not wood chips or mulch, but rather a cushioned rubber turf.
The centerpiece of the new playground is a whimsical clock tower structure for climbing and exploring. This towering form is visible as you enter the park from 116th street. A long metal slide juts out from the highest portion of the tower as a thrilling exit for anyone who climbs to the top. The structure does not easily accommodate adult-sized helpers and smaller children may find the climb to the top and large slide a bit intimidating on their own.
Fun Features for All Ages
Luckily, for younger children and those adverse to heights, there are smaller play structures that include a variety of climbing and sliding elements. A few swings are available in this area, as well as an in-ground merry-go-round and some musical features. Another creative element is a cluster of painted wooden beams sprouting from the ground for more imaginative play. An additional collection of swings is located a short walk from the main play area. Sidewalks provide access to the various playground sections. Currently, there are barrier fences in place to allow vegetation to regrow, which limits alternative walking and climbing routes around the playground area.
Another highlight of West Park is the unique splash pad which will be operational in spring 2023. The splash pad is included in the general play area, however, the water features will only be functioning seasonally. Nature-inspired elements here include a waterfall, a canyon design with a bridge above, rocks, and some elevated gutters for directing the water flow. It appears that the design of this area will allow water to flow like a stream for stomping while other in-ground sprayers will add more splashing opportunities.
Nature Trails and Prairie Maze
Many of the well-loved natural elements remain for anyone familiar with West Park prior to the renovation. Visitors can stroll over two miles of walking trails with boardwalks, some of which have been updated. For those looking to fish, there are areas along the trails that are suitable for this activity. The prairie maze and “Jill’s Hill” are both available to explore and enjoy. All of these areas are a short walk from the main playground and provide an opportunity to explore nature while visiting West Park.
Visitors can find year-round bathrooms, drinking fountains with a bottle filler, and several picnic tables near the play area. The picnic area is sheltered, but seating around the playground and splash pad areas is not covered. Across the parking lot are additional covered picnic areas that provide a bit more privacy. Some of the picnic shelters will eventually be available to reserve for events online. The parking lot has been expanded and is in close proximity to the playground, shelters, and bathrooms.
Check Out the Nature Adventure Playground
When visiting West Park, don’t forget to explore the Nature Adventure Playground tucked behind the Jill Perelman Pavilion. Access this area by walking along the trails or taking a quick drive to the separate parking lot. This area has been open for a while but can be overlooked, as it is hidden inside the forest behind the pavilion. Here you’ll find nature-inspired play and climbing structures. One of the highlights here is a zip line that appeals to a variety of ages.
The renovations at West Park make it an ideal place to explore for anyone looking to take to the trails through both woods and prairie. It is also a must-see for families looking to discover an imaginative, exciting new playground and splash pad for kids of a variety of ages.
For more kid-friendly fun in Carmel, see our favorite restaurants and activities!
2700 W 116th Street
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