A HiLite guide: Carmel’s Tour de Parks

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By: Jade Luo <jluo@hilite.org>

West Park
2700 W. 116th Street

West Park is big and spacious, donning a carefree atmosphere. It is 120 acres, with woodland, the infamous Jill’s Hill, a lake, playground, picnic shelter and, most importantly, a lot of open space.

The woodland is not too spectacular, and at this time of the year, the trees are mostly dead. However, there is a paved running trail through the woods that will definitely be a calming and interesting experience.

Meanwhile, Jill’s Hill is close by. It is a big hill overlooking the whole park, good for sledding down in the winter and rolling down in the summer. Open space surrounds the hill, beckoning for lots of outdoor games.The lake is nearby and is available for fishing and feeding wild ducks. A bridge crosses through the lake and serves as both a platform for fishers and a running track.

The picnic shelter and playground really add to the sense of community in West Park. The playground is small but enjoyable, with two tire swings and two swing sets. The park has a family atmosphere, and while there are lots of people, because there is so much space, the park never feels crowded or obnoxious.

Central Park
1195 Central Park Drive

Also known as the Monon Center, Central Park redefines what we think of as a park. It has many attractions, both outside and inside. The park is a whopping 161 acres, with four miles of trail linked to the Monon Trail as well as an outdoor aqua park, skate park and a fishing area.

The inside of the Monon Center is filled with wellness-boosting activities. There is an aquatics center, dancing studio, fitness center, basketball courts, gymnasium, the skate park and a running track.

The free part of Central Park is the outdoor trail, lake and fishing area. It is not nearly as glamorous, and at this time of the year it is still filled with dead prairie grass. The park around the lake is not too appealing and not yet worth the walk. However, the Monon Trail next to the building is a beautiful and relaxing way to walk off the stress.

Free versus cost is an issue for Central Park. While the Monon Center is a superb recreation center, it costs. The free parts of Central Park, like the lake and grasslands, are rather dull. Central Park is half park, half recreation center. If the park is the focal point, try someplace else, but if the fitness is the important thing, Central Park is the place.

Coxhall Gardens
2000 West 116th Street

Coxhall Gardens is a new, innovative and fresh park to visit. The feel of the park is simply beautiful, and it is a good place to take pictures in, whether for prom or for fun. Coxhall Gardens also serves as a great location for running, as the scenery is gorgeous.

Features of Coxhall include a well-paved trail for running, lots of open space, a beautiful bridge and gazebo, a mini-town playground, bells that chime a song every hour and a lake.

The great aspect about Coxhall is its classy feel. The different architecture and gates make it civilized, yet it is pretty much isolated during the weekdays. The gazebo is stunning with a feel of old architecture combined with new. The grass is leveled off, like that of River Heritage Park’s amphitheater. The playground is like a miniature town, and everything just looks so neat. Coxhall is picture-perfect in so many ways, and its designers did a great job making the park look great.

The only criticism is that Coxhall seems a little man-made. There are no woods, and the bushes and grass are trimmed to perfection. I definitely recommend checking Coxhall out on a nice day, however, Its beauty will relax you any day

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