When you’re looking for a playground in Iowa, you want something more than just a swing set and some gravel. You want a playground that will engage kids on many levels, or maybe you’re looking for an safe and vibrant playground that is appropriate for a wide range of ages and ability. Big is always good. And so are nearby amenities. Those were some of the things we were looking for when we went searching for the best playgrounds in Iowa.
Ankeny Miracle Park, which includes an All Inclusive Playground and Miracle League Field, is an all-inclusive playground that is suitable for children ages two to 12. The play structures also include ramping systems that lets kids who need to use mobility devices get to where the fun is.
Cedar Rapids’ first all-inclusive playground opened at Noelridge Park in 2017. The 9,600 square-foot playground is a fun challenge for kids of all abilities—and even makes it easier for less-mobile parents and grandparents to get in on the action. The park is also home to a splash pad, an aquatic center, trails and a greenhouse.
Marshalltown’s Mega-10 Park underwent an upgrade in 2017 to turn it into a “destination park” for locals, as well as folks from surrounding areas. The train-themed playground includes a climbing wall, a 130-foot Gravity Rail zipline—the state’s first—a climbing wall and multiple fitness stations for kids. There’s even a children’s “Discovery Garden.”
A memorial to local realtor, Ashley Okland Star Playground is a jewel in the Des Moines park system. It’s an all-inclusive playground surrounded by rubber footing, which is great in case of a fall or a muddy day. There’s even a nearby nature trail which was planned with young kids in mind.
Located on the shores of Storm Lake in the city that bears the same name, AWAYSIS Park has a terrific, interactive playground near both a beach and a water park. In addition, there is a lookout tower—with a concession stand at the base—that you can climb to get a sweeping view of the lake and surrounding area.
The playground at Mercer Park in Iowa City recently underwent an upgrade, making it one of the finest in the state. The interconnected structures offer plenty of fun and challenge for kids of all ages and abilities. Playground getting too hot? Cool down at Mercer Park’s Aquatic Center.
Located on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi in Davenport, Centennial Park is a great place for folks in the Quad Cities to take their kids to play. In addition to its large, modern playground, Centennial also boasts a skate park, a dog park and on warmer days, a spray park that kids can use to cool down during or after a day of summer play.
The playgrounds—that’s right plural—at Decorah’s Phelps Park are not the most modern, but the fact that there are three makes up for it. A wide range of kids will find plenty of fun at on the park’s play structures and on the wide lawns that separate them. The walled trail along the Upper Iowa River also makes for a level, kid-friendly hike.
The Dream Playground at Lake Manawa State Park was designed after input from hundreds of children about what their “Dream Playground” would look like. An upgrade of the the huge, fantasyland wooden structure was announced in 2017, so the playground will become more modern, more accessible and more inclusive—making it much more fun for many more people.
S.T. Morrison Park in Coralville is home to a massive, modern, interconnected play structure with all sorts of climbing structures and slides. The park also has an aquatic center with water slides and a shallow cool-down pool with shade and splashing water. There’s even a pond where kids can fish.