Not much can render my son speechless, but Millstone Creek Park did.
This universally accessible playground (it's accessible to people with a wide variety of physical handicaps) opened in May on the northern fringe of Westerville, just off Maxtown Road at Spring Road. And I can honestly say my son was saucer-wide-eyed and silent as we took our measure of the place. It's a near-perfect integration of natural and man-made elements.
Millstone Creek Park
745 N. Spring Rd., Westerville
Watch out for the cyclists on the bike path that borders the park and crosses the parking-lot entrance. They haul. Proceed carefully in the parking lot, which is narrow, curvy and probably has a few fender-benders in its future. Beware the burnt-rubber smell that warm temperatures coax from the bouncy play surface. Whether that will fade with time remains to be seen (or smelled), but it might be an issue for someone with chemical sensitivities. PROS:
The NEOS game -- genius. This is basically a life-sized video game, using lights and sounds to lure players into a low-grade aerobic workout (bwa-ha-ha). The giant, sprawling Plaything is so large that, as my son said, no matter how many people show up, there's still going to be room somewhere for you. Using wetlands as a play space. Water, sand and dirt: That pretty much sums up my childhood. How about you? The metal slide. Those with cochlear implants (for hearing impairment) won't suffer the problems that static electricity creates on other slide surfaces. Spectator seating is adequate, including one lovely spot under a gazebo and a long stone wall you can hoist yourself onto (but no Wi-Fi). Clean, handicapped-accessible bathrooms with two water fountains are next to the playground. And the list of pros goes on: Swings, a basketball court, xylophones, climbing rocks, a grown-up exercise station, and a half-dozen play stations that work balancing skills.