We’re so lucky here in McKinney to have 30 parks with play structures. That’s right, 3-0! Now that warmer weather is upon us, it’s the perfect time to get out and play with your kiddos. Since we’re first and foremost both moms of littles, we know how valuable some mom insight can be before you pack up the crew to head out and explore a new place. We weren’t able to visit all the parks, but we were able to visit a handful. Here are our impressions on some of the McKinney city parks, along with a quick checklist of each parks essentials. Hope this helps you decide your next park to explore and have fun at!
Al Ruschhaupt is a playground and a soccer complex. I haven’t been here in the evenings or weekends, so I can’t give any insight into how busy it gets during games/practices. With that being said, this is one of my favorite parks in McKinney. The playground is completely shaded and there is astroturf on the ground. The one play structure is very large and is great for toddlers and big kids, and it’s wheelchair accessible! There is also a couple of ADA/special needs swings. There is a small handful of picnic tables and more at the pavilion by the soccer fields. Al Ruschhaupt also has a splash pad.
I love this park because of the shade, which is so helpful in the summer months, and because of the astroturf, which makes falling much less traumatizing! Al Ruschhaupt is a great park for kids of all ages and abilities. -M
Bonnie Wenk Park
Bonnie Wenk just opened a new section of their park, which includes “play pods”. This is not a traditional playground and better suited for 5 and up. The play pods include ropes, climbing logs and a zip line! It’s very fun and nice and shaded. The play area is set up next to a creek, so make sure to watch your little runners! There are restrooms at Bonnie Wenk, but they are a bit of a hike from the play area. And while there are benches scattered throughout, there are no picnic tables.
Bonnie Wenk is a great park to visit, not only because of the new and different play area but because of the hiking trails and the dog park as well. - M
Carey Cox Memorial Park
Carey Cox Memorial Park is off of Stonebridge, just south of 380 and next to Wilmeth Elementary. It has a few different play areas, with swings, a natural climbing area and separate big and little kid play structures. The smaller play area has little bouncy animals which my kids always love! Both playgrounds have big shade tents which is a major plus. There's also a large grassy area to run around or kick a ball around and a big covered pavilion with picnic tables.
It's a little bit of a walk from the parking lot which is in front of the Parks Administration building, but there is a paved sidewalk leading directly to the park. If your littles tend to protest leaving the park, you might want to bring the stroller down with you, to make getting back to the car a bit easier. One other thing to keep in mind is the park is at the top of a hill and on a windy day you really feel those Texas winds! -C
The Community Center is located by Towne Lake Park and is kind of hidden, but right off the access road of north 75. I can’t speak to the community center itself, but I can give insight to the playground here. You can park at the community center and follow the trail around the building to the playground. You can also access it from the trails at Towne Lake, but it’s a bit of a hike. This playground is made for older kids as it’s very tall and has fast slides. The ground covering is wood chips and there are no picnic tables, just benches. If you need to use the restroom I’m assuming to can walk inside the community center, but I’m not positive.
This playground can be a nice pit-stop while hiking the Towne Lake trails, but it’s definitely meant for older kids.
E.A. Randles Park
E.A. Randles is directly behind Johnson Elementary, which is where you park. Since it’s so close to a school that means when the bell rings the playground gets flooded with kids. We were actually visiting the park when this happened, and it was a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of my 2 and 5 year old. The school kids did not linger long though before heading home, I would say only about 15 minutes of chaos.
School release aside, this is a pretty good park. There are two play structures and a swing set equip with an ADA swing/special needs swing. There is also a large pavilion with picnic tables, but unfortunately no restrooms. The park is very spread out, which made it a little difficult to keep an eye on both kids if they were on the separate play structures. And there is a large field great for throwing around a ball or playing soccer. If planning to visit E.A. Randles Park, make sure to do so before 3 pm, make sure potty breaks are taken before you leave home, and just come alert! -M
Finch Park is located a few blocks from downtown, so it makes a great pit-stop to let your kids run out their energy pre or post your historic downtown visit. But despite the location, I really enjoy Finch Park because it has everything I look for in a park- shade, multiple play structures, a splash pad, restrooms, plenty of picnic tables, and lots of room to roam and chase the squirrels.
Finch has a toddler play structure and a big kids structure. The big kids playground has some pretty fast slides and intense climbing, so watch your adventurous tots! But the toddler playground is great and located close to the big kids playground, making watching both sets an easy task. Wood chips are the ground covering and although there are swings there isn’t an ADA/special needs swing. Restrooms are close by and there are plenty of picnic tables and grills spread throughout. There is also a large pavilion, located a bit far from the playgrounds, that can be reserved on the weekends.
Finch Park is a great park, and I highly recommend! It truly is a destination park where you can easily spend hours enjoying a picnic, playing in the splash pad or even throwing a party. -M
Gabe Nesbett Park
Gabe Nesbett is where the skate park is located along with baseball and softball fields. There are multi play structures, but they are tucked in the baseball and softball fields. Expect very busy playgrounds and crowded parking in the evenings and weekends during baseball/softball season. Since you are at the fields, you get the convenience of concession stands and restrooms. I probably wouldn’t come visit these playgrounds outside of attending a game though. - M
Horizon Park is located in a neighborhood and close to Minshew Elementary, but it isn't used by the school. Horizon has its own small parking lot, seperate from the school. There is one play structure, which is labeled for 2-5 year olds. The ground covering is wood chips, there is a splash pad, and there are picnic tables. There is also a pavilion but it is far from the playground, across a field. No are no restrooms.
Having younger kids, I really like this park and recommend it. Horizon feels intimate and there aren’t any scary slides or large climbing structures that my two year old could get into trouble on. There isn’t much shade, so come prepared with sunscreen during the summer. -M
Inspiration Park is located across the street from Naomi Press Elementary but has its own parking. I haven’t been there when school gets out, but I do know kids that go to Press and they play on the playground after school.
There is only one play structure, and it’s a better fit for bigger kids. Wood chips are the ground covering. There is a pavilion with picnic tables right next to the playground, along with a splash pad. There is no shade at Inspiration, so wear sunscreen. There are also no restrooms.
Overall, it is a fine park but better suited for the older kids. Summer may be a little rough without shade, but there is a splash pad to cool you off. -M
Old Settler’s Park
Old Settler’s has one play structure, good for toddlers and older kids. The ground covering is wood chips. There are no restrooms but there are picnic tables and a pavilion with a grill. There is no shade at this park, so I imagine it could get a little hot in the summer. Old Settler’s also has plenty of open space to run around and is next to the Settler’s Aquatic Center and Rec Center.
Overall, Old Settler’s Park is a decent park where you can feel comfortable with toddlers and older kids playing. The fact that it’s next to the aquatic center is also nice for the summer! -M
This is my favorite park for littles. I used to bring my daughter here when we first moved to McKinney. Serenity Park is aptly named, with a peaceful, quiet vibe. This park is away from noisy main roads and is tucked into big trees (so lots of shade!). It only has a little kid play structure, which may be part of what keeps it so peaceful… the big kids tend to play elsewhere! There are 2 shaded picnic tables and 2 swings. It's such a cute park and also connects to a nice trail so you can walk with your baby in the stroller after playtime. -C
Tom Allen Jr. Park
This park has a great raised circular pavillon with lots of picnic tables. You get a nice breeze since it's raised up and it's completely covered, so fully shaded. This playground is best for big kids, definitely not for kids under age 5 (although they could certainly run around in the big grassy field next to the playground). It has a cool huge slide and a couple of climbing walls on the playground. There is a lot of parking just next to the park and water fountains. There is no restroom but there is 1 port a potty, in case of emergency! -C
Towne Lake Park
Towne Lake is another park where you could easily spend a few hours. It is located across from McKinney High School and not only includes the playground, but miles of trails, sand volleyball, paddle boating and duck feeding.
The playground has two structures, one for littles and one for bigger kids. The ground covering is wood chips and there is no shade. The playground has recently be renovated, so it’s pretty nice. Close by are restrooms and covered picnic tables. From the playground you can easily walk over to feed the ducks or rent a paddle boat (check website for seasonality).
I recommend Towne Lake Park because it’s size and multiple activities. It’s also the closest thing to a lake we have here in McKinney, so it makes you feel like you’re out of the city. - M
Valley Creek Park
With only one big kids play structure and no restroom, this park isn’t a great destination for toddlers. Valley Creek is located next to Valley Creek Elementary, which is where parking is located as well. The school seems to have its own playground, so you probably don’t have to worry about the school kids during the day but I would imagine when school gets out it might get a little chaotic for a bit. The ground covering is wood chips. Valley Creek is next to a large field and baseball practice fields, so there is plenty of room to run around. There is also a pavilion with some picnic tables.
Valley Creek Park is great for children 5 and up, and seems to keep a steady stream of visitors since many soccer and baseball teams practice here. -M
W.B. Finney Park
Finney Park is located next to Glen Oaks Elementary, and I believe it doubles as the school playground. I showed up around 10 am on a Wednesday, and it was filled with school-aged children running around. Because of that, I recommend visiting this park after school or on the weekends.
We didn’t get to play at W.B. Finney park, but from what I can see it looks like a fun park. There are two play structures very close to each other with wood chips for ground coverings. There was also a pavilion and basketball courts, but no restrooms. Parking is at the elementary. -M