Ready to travel back through time when you were completely carefree? These ten Iowa playgrounds will help.
1. Big Creek State Park, 12397 NW 89th Court, Polk City
This playground features a classic wooden play structure situated on the lake front. Balance beams, giant tires, monkey bars, and castle towers await.
2. Between Linn St. and Clinton St., Iowa City
Outside the doors of The Bread Garden and The Public Library in Iowa City’s fabulous ped mall is an incredible playground. The ground under it isn’t typical mulch. It’s squishy and fun to walk on. The first hour of parking is free in any of Iowa City’s downtown ramps. If you park in the ramp near the Sheradon and walk through the front doors of The Bread Garden and out the back doors, you’ll be just a few feet from the playground. There’s a small water feature next to it that kids love to play in, as well.
3. Jester Park Natural Playscape, 12000-12592 NW 128th St., Granger
This natural play area, designed for children over the age of five, has a tall grass tangle, stone henge, bison bluff, grassy hill slide, log stairs, and a boulder scramble. There’s an archaeological dig with eight secrets to uncover, a pine grove, and a lost bridge. Cool off in the waterfall and bubbling rock. This is a truly unique playground.
4. Ashley Okland Star Playground, Ewing Park, 5300 Indianola Rd., Des Moines
This interactive playground inside Ewing Park has 50 different play elements and features adapted playground equipment for people with special needs. This playground is giant and offers hours of fun.
5. West Market Park, 1001-1099 Franklin St., Pella
This wooden structure is huge. Designed by children and built by community member in 1992, it’s a must-see when touring Iowa’s most amazing playgrounds.
6. Mercer Park, 2701 Bradford Dr., Iowa City
The enormous play structure in Mercer Park is too good to pass up. There’s plenty of space for everyone. Go to Jimmy Jacks, get some great BBQ, and bring it back to dine in style under the monkey bars.
7. Walker-Johnson Park, 9000 Douglas Ave, Urbandale
A three-story wooden tree house (without a tree) makes this park unique. The crown jewel of this place is a giant metal slide that’s built into a hill. Perfect for adults. Kids might like it, too
8. McIntosh State Park, 1200 E Lake St., Ventura
This is the perfect place for an old-school sleepover. Grab six of your closest friends and make your childhood dreams come true by spending the night in one of the two on-site yurts. This ultimate outdoor playground includes inviting woods, lots of wildlife, and Clear Lake. Bring camping supplies and plan to cook outside. Enjoy the beach and the huge playground, too.
9. West Floyd Park, Le Mars
This park has it all. Bring your BMX bike and take advantage of the dirt race track. Spend time throwing and hitting in the giant baseball complex. There’s a huge disc golf course, plenty of open space, and a nice playground.
10. Prairie Playground, East Park Trl, Mason City
This is another child-designed giant play structure. This park is a dog-free tobacco-free place, FYI. An enclosed swirly slide, plenty of climbing, and lookout towers make this park a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.