Our Favorite Parks in Ames



This summer we embarked on a parks challenge to discover our favorite parks in Ames.

Challenges included zipping down a slide, swinging from the monkey bars, or pumping your legs on a swing.

All of these things happen often when we venture to new parks and playgrounds in Ames. Since we have lived here, checking out new parks has been a frequent request. 

The goal was to visit all the parks in Ames and rate them based on three criteria.

  • Accessibility. This included parking, restrooms, shade, and benches
  • Play equipment and age appropriateness
  • Overall level of fun for all kiddos

Our 3 Favorite Parks in Ames

  1. Miracle Inclusive Playground at Inis Grove Park
  2. O’Neil Park  
  3. Brookside Park 

Looking for parks in Des Moines? Check out some of our favorites here

Miracle Playground

2500 Duff Ave Ames, IA 50010

Pros: The park has accessible bathroom facilities, a large shelter with shade, benches throughout the playground, and a large parking lot.

This playground has different areas of play structures which helps tremendously when it gets busy. During the day, the playground gets busy but we love walking over after dinner to enjoy some family time!

My two-year-old loves the metal slide and roller slide. My three-year-old thinks running on the baseball field is the most fun. Though climbing in the mini houses and catching his little sister is pretty fun too. My two older girls (10, 14) request to go to this park with their siblings because the equipment keeps them engaged also. It’s a great playground to play tag on when it is not busy. 

O’Neil Park

300 South Maple Ave Ames, IA 50010

Pros: The equipment is the perfect size for my littles and the field is perfect for my older ones to practice soccer. It has both toddler swings and regular swings perfect for swinging competitions.

Cons: No dedicated parking but instead street parking. Bathroom facilities are a port a potty so we used my trusty on-the-go potty chair.  

O’Neil Park features two different playgrounds with one more dedicated to younger kiddos. There is plenty of shade and lots of picnic tables for a quick snack or picnic lunch. This park is my favorite as the sightlines are excellent for watching both playgrounds at once. And that needed to happen often having four kiddos going all different directions! 

Brookside Park

1325 6th St. Ames, IA 50010

Pros: The bathrooms are wonderful, there’s lots of shade and shelters, and there are benches throughout the large expanse of the park. Plus multiple parking lots throughout the park. There is a skate park across the street plus basketball hoops and tennis courts on the trail. 

Cons: No older kiddo equipment. 

One of our favorite parts of Brookside Park is the fire truck both kids can climb on and pretend to drive. Awesome photo op for family pictures! We also enjoy using the wading pool. Perfect for my toddlers to splash and cool off while I enjoy an iced coffee. Both toddlers can follow the trail paths to each play structure and find new adventures each time we visit. This is a plus so I can get a workout in while they are still playing. 

Park Essentials

After visiting 28 parks in 30 days, I feel like a professional playground mom! The first week of playgrounds I kept a running list of essentials we needed. Some things I had but many I realized as we visited each park. I now have my trunk always packed for a spontaneous playground date with two totes of essentials.

Here’s the list that I keep so I can refill or change up what I bring depending on the type of park we visit. My kids always seem to make friends and other moms are very appreciative when we have plenty to share. I normally have a camping chair in my trunk from our soccer games. Sometimes I pull that out, if I know my kids won’t need me and there are no benches.

Summer is the perfect time to visit new parks and adventure to nearby cities. Pack a few totes, grab the cooler and choose your next adventure destination. Make sure to take pictures and savor the memories created. And use #desmoinesmom so we can all see your adventures. If you want to follow along on our summer adventures, you can find me @nicumamatimes2! 

Cheers to sliding into summer being the “fun and cool” mom that my three-year-old thinks I am.

What are your favorite parks in Ames?


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