New Mika's Playground at updated Civic Center Playfield in Edmonds. Credit: Natasha Dillinger
Overwhelmed parents, we have good news for you. You can stop packing up the kids for multiple activity stops: Edmonds’ newly renovated Civic Center Playfield is a one-stop hotspot for family recreation.
The 8-acre site in downtown Edmonds hosts a skate park, athletic fields and courts for all kinds of sports. The piѐce-de-résistance of the park is Mika’s Inclusive Playground, a play space for kids of all abilities, dedicated to a local boy.
Intrigued by the prospect of unique new playground equipment, we headed over on a recent sunny morning to sample what the park has to offer.
Inclusive play inspired by nature
New playgrounds seem to follow one of two tracks: brightly colored inclusive equipment, or nature-inspired structures packed with wood elements. Mika’s Playground manages to successfully incorporate both.
A forest full of vertical wooden posts line a poured rubber labyrinth. Kids can weave among the posts on a mobility device to play the musical chimes at the center. Or they can copy my 7-year-old and try to dodge them while doing cartwheels.
If your crew is looking for a little more excitement, they can head to the “rollercoaster,” a paved path with hills and valleys that’s perfect for a scooter or wheelchair.
Mika loved to swing
Mika Zimbalist, for whom the park is named, was an active and joyful 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. He especially loved to swing. In a bittersweet video about the playground’s origins, his mom, Mumtaz Zimbalist, describes how woodchips and non-inclusive equipment made it challenging for him to enjoy playgrounds with his friends. Mika died in 2019.
His new namesake playground features a welcoming large basket swing hung on posts resembling driftwood — it’s perfect for several friends to swing together, or for one child to lean back and enjoy the sensation of flying high in the air. An expression swing and belt swing add more swinging opportunities, and I noticed multiple kids, including mine, testing them all out — for science, obviously.
A zero-barrier Integration Carousel has space for two wheelchairs and multiple friends to spin together — twirl with the help of an adult pushing from outside the carousel or spin the center post for self-propelled pirouettes.
Follow a low-grade curved path up to a wide metal slide on the opposite side of the playground. It’s not very steep, so kids can slide with a buddy or parent alongside them. My daughter is in her cartwheel phase, so she practiced descending the slide and transitioning into a tumble, over and over again.
During our visit, a toddler playdate kept the digger toy in the gravel pit hopping (an accessible version was under repair). With the tots occupied, my daughter had the rope climber to herself.
The simple climber won’t make any parent’s heart race, but it does provide a great prop for a round of “the floor is lava.”
A couple of things to note: The playground isn’t on any major streets, but there are essentially no barriers, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on runners. Also, the playground has no shade, so plan accordingly on a hot day.
Adventure around the park
I’d place my 7-year-old at the top of the age range for this particular playground, so you’ll want to bring a ball or some wheels for older kids and take a tour around the park. While there’s very minimal shade, the upside to that is clear sightlines across the fields if your kids need a little supervised independence.
On our tour, we cruised past grassy hills, pausing for more cartwheels, and on past the pickleball and basketball courts. We then watched some tweens on their rollerblades and scooters at the skate park. Their dad sat nearby reading a book while they got out their youthful energy — seems pretty perfect to me!
When you need a break, a large picnic shelter provides the park’s only meaningful shade. A beautifully decorated canoe hangs from the picnic shelter’s ceiling, and a colorful mural enlivens a wall of the restroom building. Speaking of restrooms, the single-occupancy stalls have changing tables, a rarity in public parks!
Complete your park circuit by wandering past the pétanque courts (BYOB: bring your own balls — and a French grandpa if you need someone to teach you to play). Soccer fields spread out nearby. When we visited, the cutest little kids at soccer camp practiced dribbling across the grass.
Bring your running shoes if your kids have a game here — the trail around the park has a springier-than-average surface and there are exercise stations sprinkled around for some adult exercise.
Whether you spend your whole visit chasing a toddler around the playground labyrinth or you pack a picnic and sporting equipment to stay for the day, Mika’s Playground and renovated Civic Center Playfield offer the whole family the opportunity to find something they love.
If you go…
Find it: Mika’s Inclusive Playground is located on the eastern side of Civic Center Playfield in downtown Edmonds. Navigate to the intersection of 7th Avenue North and Sprague Street for the easiest access.
Hours: Edmonds parks are open from sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
Parking: Free street parking is available around the park’s perimeter.
Facilities: Gender-neutral restrooms with changing tables are located across the playing fields from the playground. There are also water-bottle-filling stations and fountains next to the playground, and near the restrooms.
Snack time: You’re only a quarter mile from Downtown Edmonds and its many food and shopping options. The newest outpost of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream just opened, too, so save room for a sweet treat after your playground visit!
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