"We invite families to a time of adventure and exploration in a natural, beautiful, large outdoor area that reflects the environment of southwest Ocala." Michael Sims/Co-pastor Ocala West United Methodist Church
Not only did I let my two preschool-aged sons try them out, but Newsbreak checked in with husband and wife co-pastors Jen and Michael Sims to learn more about these free and fun outdoor spaces.
Facts about the Ocala West United Methodist Playgrounds:
- The playgrounds are a gift to the parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren in the community.
- They are open from dawn till dusk.
- The playgrounds are located at 9330 SW 105th St, Ocala, FL 34481
- The toddler preschool playground is easily seen as one approaches the church property on 105th St. (off 200).
- A fence surrounds the colorful, safe smaller climbing structure and slides for young kids at play.
- Benches are available for supervising adults.
- Children are to be supervised at all times by their parent/grandparent or guardian.
Discover Peaceful Natural Play Environments at These Two Ocala West United Methodist Church Playgrounds
"Our church campus was created for our community, and our playgrounds, pavilion, and sports areas are an expression of invitation and hospitality to families." Co-pastor Jen Sims shared.
"Behind our church campus is a beautiful, natural play area," Co-pastor Michael Sims noted. "This space includes a gaga pit, swings, volleyball net, basketball goals, wood climbing forts/slides, and more!"
The Sims aren't kidding, and this hidden Ocala playground does a superb job of combining a peaceful, natural setting with play.
My boys, 3 and 5, appreciate this family-friendly space. And at the larger playground, they spend a lot of time climbing the roped cargo net, leading to a wooden play structure.
They then have to put their problem-solving skills to work since they must choose from the climbing net, stairs, metal pole, or slide to get back on land.
Across from this wooden structure sits another wooden fort-type playground with stairs, two slides, monkey bars, and a fun plastic tunnel that my boys crawl through and hang out in.
There's also a balance beam and uneven bars by this structure, perfect for occupying my little gymnasts.
Another highlight: The two sets of swings, so that kiddos can choose between bucket or traditional ones.
And we can't forget the impressive, large pavilion - a great spot for picnics and snacks.
"The improvements, additions, and maintenance of our playgrounds have occurred through the generosity of our congregation and the work of our Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Several Boy Scout Eagle projects are on the property, including a large picnic pavilion, BBQ pit pavilion, fire pit area, and ga-ga pit. A recent Girl Scout project incorporated a hopscotch course." - Pastor Michael Sims
*For the safety of all, fire pit/bbq pit use is restricted to church ministries.
The church also has another small playground you can see from the road leading to the church.
Unlike the one above, this one is gated and features a small plastic structure with slides, climbing, and more.
The play structure sits on mulch - and nearby are two park benches for seating.
"Play is the language of our children and youth—in times of play, they discover, explore, observe, and express themselves." Pastor Jen Sims
This toddler playground was perfect for my three-year-old son, who could use all the equipment without assistance. He still had a blast on the larger playground but required help in a few areas.
*Note: My five-year-old needed no assistance on either of them.
"Our playgrounds are a gift to our community!"
So, if you're seeking an Ocala playground slightly off the beaten path, the Ocala West United Methodist Church playgrounds won't disappoint.
There, your kiddo or grandchild will have the choice of where to play. Or, if you have a bit of time, visit them both.
While the kiddos play, enjoy the peaceful, reflective setting the Ocala West playgrounds offer.
See ya there!
*Along with playgrounds, Ocala West UMC offers Family Ministries in-person and online. For more information, contact Miss Emily via OcalaWestUMC.com or 352-854-9550.