Central Park Playground



Summer never feels long enough. Ever. And it always stinks to see it slipping away. Always. With the limited months of warmth we have here in Minnesota, sometimes we are forced to be pretty selective with our outings – only choosing the best of the best. And Central Park in Maple Grove easily tops the charts for my family. We actually go here multiple times every summer because it’s just that fun. With fountains and shade and a cool, modern playground – plus a price tag of FREE – this is an easy choice when we can’t decide where to go. It never fails to leave our kiddos smiling and exhausted. And the best part is – it’s perfectly awesome in the fall months too!

central park maple grove

central park maple grove

What is it?

Central Park, which opened off Main Street in Maple Grove in late 2015, is an urban park with a playground for all ages, plus a seasonal, interactive fountain & ice-skating loop in the winter. The park was built for inclusivity – with accessible play equipment, rubberized surface, sand, a 24-foot climbing tower, a variety of slides, unique swings and a climbing area that my kids absolutely love.

Once you park in the parking lot (or on the street if it’s a crazy busy day), you can head down towards to the play equipment or hang around the top-of-the-steps area where you’ll find the interactive fountains (that light up at night), the concessions area and plenty of seating. The whole space feels a bit like Central Park in NYC (hence the name, perhaps?) with the natural-yet-urban setting, the lake, the trails, the park benches and the beauty. Oh, and there’s an ice skating trail at the park in the winter. In the summer, my kids like to scooter around that space or just run the loop over and over with their towels tied around their necks like capes.

Central Park is great for just running and releasing energy. It IS a pretty big space and can get VERY busy, so it’s not uncommon to feel anxious when it comes to losing kids here, but I guess that’s all part of an urban park. Point is: Keep a close eye on your kids.

central park maple grove

central park maple grove

Fit for what ages?

I loved coming here when my kids were younger because they were happy in one section and didn’t sprint from spot to spot like they do now. But if I was able to keep an eye on all of them or tell them they couldn’t leave a certain area (and they actually listened), it wasn’t that bad. Now that a couple of them are a bit older, I do let them run freely with a meeting spot at a picnic table or something. If you come during busy times (like mid-morning, weekends and hot summer days), just know that – no matter their age – wandering children can be hard to keep track of.

My 9-year old still loves this park because enough of the equipment is fit for his age and adventure level, plus he thinks the fountains are awesome. And my 2-year old finds plenty to do in their toddler areas and in the sand pits. I honestly think this park is ideal for ALL ages. If the fountains are on, all ages enjoy this! If you have older kids, just make sure they aren’t sprinting through the fountains – I’ve seen a number of knock-overs due to this. There’s also a couple slides that just FLY, so keep your eyes on your little ones.

central park maple grove

central park maple grove

How much are we talkin’?

The playground? Free. The interactive fountains? Free. The parking? Free. The concessions? Well, they of course cost money, but it’s $2 hot dog kind of prices. Not like going to a Twins game or something. I love getting my kids a treat here so they can recoup a bit in the shade or at one of the little bistro tables outside the shelter. To have a 100% cost-free day, pack your snacks or a picnic. There’s tons of grass to bust out a blanket and soak in the sun.

In the winter months, the LED-lit ice skating trail is open and, while skating is free, skate rentals are $6/person. Skate sharpening is $4.

central park maple grove

central park maple grove

Want some tips?

First, the basics: Bathrooms are located inside the shelter and they’re nice, clean, indoor restrooms that can also double for a nice place to change in or out of swimsuits. Their concession food is actually really tasty and not overpriced at all. They take cash and credit and are only open during summer months. The park gets crazy busy during hot summer days because of the fountains, but the park can get very warm so be careful when you plan on playing on the equipment. Shade is more plentiful here than at most parks, but it’s still not “shaded.” The shelter is air conditioned though, so that’s nice. My preference is to visit during the evening hours, like after dinner. It’s quieter and you’ll see the lit-up fountains, which are obviously WAY more fun to play in. Wear comfy play shoes and sunscreen.

central park maple grove

If you plan on running through the fountains, don’t forget your swimsuit and towel. While they aren’t required, it’s way more fun (and safe) to keep the water in the fountains area and not bring it down to the playground via wet clothing. The fountains are easily my kids’ favorite part of the whole park. They are interactive and random and you never know how high or low they’re going to spray. Plus, if you come in the evening, they are LED lit and absolutely stunning. The city usually tries to keep the fountains running until the end of September, weather permitting. Of course, try not to let your kids run in the fountains because crashing into others at a fast speed can be very painful (it’s concrete, duh).

This is an urban park, which basically means: You will probably lose track of your kids at least once. Our kids are a little older so we always find a “home base” where I leave our bags and blankets and where they know to meet up. When they were younger, we would do one “section” at a time and I would try my darndest to keep them all together. You know your kids better than anyone, so just know – if you have a runner, this park has potential to give you anxiety. There. I said my piece.

central park maple grove

We have brought our rollerblades and scooters to this park before because the ice skating loop is a really cool (enclosed) cement trail during warm months, ideal for scooting around or safely playing a game of tag. In the winter, it becomes a unique LED-lit refrigerated ice loop – 810 feet long and hockey sticks or other sporting equipment is not allowed. This is just the ideal place to leisurely skate as a family without fear or competition. Plus, it’s like, super pretty. Skating is (you guessed it) FREE and they do offer skate rentals in the building for $6/person.

central park maple grove

Feel free to bring sand toys to play with in the sand area. There is definitely plenty for youngsters to do and each section of the playground seems to be customized for specific ages. The big slides on the hill are a lot of fun, but they (especially the large silver one) can really fly, so make sure your kids know how to slide down a slide before allowing them on a couple of these. There are no regular or baby swings here (I know, I breathed a sigh of relief too), but there are a few really unique swings, including a teeter-totter type one and a large raft one. Because there aren’t many swings, kids usually wind up waiting for their turn on these. Be a decent human and make sure your kiddos are abiding by the wait lines if they exist. Cuz cutting or taking 20 minutes when it’s their turn is just not nice.

central park maple grove

Finally, Central Park is located close to so many other awesome adventures. For food, we like to stop on Main Street for Coldstone ice cream or a Portillos hot dog. Or Nadia’s Cakes for an expensive but delicious cupcake or Freddy’s Burgers for one of the best fast-food burgers around. (I obviously like food.) But there’s also Town Green Park which has some really great summer activities for youngsters so look into that before heading out or the Maple Grove Library right up the road which has a cute kids section and a fun story time.

central park maple grove

central park maple grove

Hours and location

12000 Central Park Way |  Maple Grove, MN 55369

Central Park is open daily from 8am to 9:30pm during the summer. Winter hours for the skate loop are found on their website here.

There is a decent-sized free parking lot behind the main shelter but it definitely fills up fast. I’ve never had a problem finding street parking though (also free).

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  • Joseph Houghton
    12/23/2018 at 4:31 pm

    So glad I stumbled on this. I can’t believe I’ve never been to Central Park in Maple Grove. I feel like I have been everywhere else except here. Im definitely adding this to my things to do list with my 4 boys

  • Billigt online
    01/03/2019 at 9:31 pm

    I wish you a Haoppy new year!

  • Sam
    11/01/2020 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Nicki, this place, besides being beautiful, looks like a lot of fun; especially those water sources. Children must love being in such a place.

    Congratulations on the post!