Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds

I love this spring weather that we have been having this week! However, with melting snow and spring rains, things can get quite muddy on playgrounds. Since we didn’t live walking distance to a playground, I was always concerned about having to put my muddy daughter back into the car. This isn’t a problem at one of the Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds listed below.

Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds

Earlier this week on Facebook I solicited recommendations for playgrounds that are mess-free since they utilize rubber mats or chips under the structure.

Yesterday my daughter and I took a mini-tour of some of the recommended Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds.

Gallup Park

There are two mess-free play areas at Gallup Park.


Centennial Playground is a universal access playground that opened in September 2017. The entire surface is rubber mat. When I visited the playground, there was a mix of a middle school group and toddlers. I was struck by how much fun both groups were having – on some of the same equipment. Check out our Facebook Live Video from the playground.

The front play area (near the canoe livery) at Gallup Park has rubber mats and no mulch. With a tire swing, a slide built into the hill, and some climbing structures, the play area is not very large. It is geared towards younger kids. My 10 year old definitely felt that she was too big for most of what was on the playground.

Gallup Park is at 3000 Fuller Rd, Ann Arbor.

County Farm Park

County Farm Park is one of my daughter’s favorite playgrounds. It does have one of the taller play structures, but there are plenty of activities for young children. The park is a mix of rubber mats and mulch. Plus, there is a sand pit and tubs that can fill with water.

In addition to the playground at County Farm Park, my daughter took a trip to the Perennial Garden. It was dry when we visited, but does have gravel paths. The last time we were at the park she and her friends spent a lot of time hanging out in the perennial garden since it was not as crowded as the playground.

Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds - County Farm Park - Perennial Garden

The main park entrance for County Farm Park is at 2230 Platt Rd, Ann Arbor and has an available parking lot.

Ford Heritage Park

Ford Heritage Park offers a combination of rubber mats and mulch. The rubber mats cover most of the play area with the mulch in the outer edges. By avoiding the zip lines, log roll, and pedal balance, you can avoid the mulch.

My daughter has always loved Ford Heritage Park. When she was younger, she called it the Roller Slide Playground. 

Ford Heritage Park’s address is 8399 Textile Rd, Ypsilanti. It is just east of Whittaker Rd.

Veterans Memorial Park

The playground at Veterans Memorial Park is not large, but it does have a rubber mat.

Veterans Memorial Park - Playground

Veterans Memorial Park’s address is 2150 Jackson Avenue. There is also a lot on Maple, but I recommend the Veterans Park lot since it is paved. I believe the Maple Ave lot is gravel.

Fuller Park

Fuller Park offers a wooden play structure with a rubber mat. The park is less about slides and more about exploring the structure with a few physical challenges like balance beams and monkey bars.

To reach the playground, there is a paved path directly to the playground from the parking lot. Don’t use the sidewalk near the pool or you will have to walk across the grass to the playground.

Olson Park

Olson Park lacks a traditional playground structure, but it makes up for it with a series of climbing structures. My 11 year old was thrilled with the challenges of the climbers. There are easier sides to the climbers than she picked for younger kids. The swings are on mulch and there is a sand area that might be messy on wet days.

The park also features paved trails offering a nice walking option on wet days.

Winchell Park

The playground at Ann Arbor’s Winchell Park has both rubber mats and mulch. Both the structure entrance and bottom of the slides are connected to the sidewalk via rubber mats.

Winchell Park - Tuesday Playground Profile - Structure

Southeast Area Park

One of the suggestions was for the Southeast Area Park on Ellsworth just west of Platt Rd. My daughter and I explored both play structures here and they were mostly mulch. The play area closer to Ellsworth Rd had a rubber mat where a tire swing used to be located. The actual structures had a rubber mat leading to the mulch area and the play structure.

Southeast Area Park’s address is 1351 E. Ellsworth, Ann Arbor. 

Other Suggested Ann Arbor Mess-Free Playgrounds

With our busy schedule this week and some rain, we were not able to visit all of the playgrounds suggested or to check out any other playgrounds. I just added Ford Heritage Park to the list above. The final suggestion is Olson Park (1551 Dhu Varren Rd, Ann Arbor). It is still on our list to visit.

As always, if you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments or send them to me via email.

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Anna Mae

Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.

Anna Mae

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