10 Outdoor Spaces Beyond Playgrounds - All Inclusive Rec
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Community Spaces

10 Outdoor Spaces Beyond Playgrounds

Outdoor community spaces are essential. They provide an affordable and accessible way for people to socialize, explore nature and have fun. Playgrounds may be the first example to come to mind, but public parks, recreational facilities, outdoor fitness areas, corporate office parks and other outdoor spaces can all make a positive difference for local communities.

Whether you have an open plot of land or want to enhance an existing park, these 10 ideas can help you begin brainstorming. Read on to discover options for unique outdoor spaces that serve your community’s interests.

10 Ideas to Take Your Outdoor Space to the Next Level

   1. Outdoor Fitness Centers

Outdoor fitness areas make exercise free and accessible to everyone. Some areas offer a complete workout with equipment designed for multiple exercises or separate events specific to one or two exercises. The equipment is usually grouped in one central location, making the users’ experience similar to that of a rec center or gym. These exercise areas typically feature accessible and safe surfaces to walk on and nearby amenities, such as water fountains and parking.

If space is a consideration, you can easily add a Multi Station which offers 25 plus exercises or add fitness stations alongside trails or pathways. This allows your visitors to combine running or biking with strength training for a well-rounded workout. Thanks to the small footprint of exercise stations, even pocket-sized parks can add an outdoor fitness area without sacrificing space.

Exercise stations aren’t your only option either! You can build your space with a variety of creative outdoor fitness solutions, including obstacles courses, fitness circuits and calisthenic racks.

   2. Amphitheater

Amphitheaters are outdoor theaters with a semi-circular or fan-shaped auditorium facing a grass, stone or wooden stage. They are often used for community gatherings, concerts and other events. The design of amphitheaters typically includes stationary seating, turfed terraces, a sloped lawn and shade structures.

   3. Sculpture Park

Also known as sculpture gardens, sculpture parks offer your guests an immersive experience, combining art and nature to engage all of their senses. In addition to the sculptures themselves, these outdoor spaces often feature:

These touches can help make your sculpture park interactive and aesthetically pleasing for visitors.

   4. Pickleball Courts

Pickleball is becoming one of the fastest-growing sports, combining aspects of tennis, ping pong and badminton. The court dimensions are 20 by 44 feet for both singles and doubles play. To build four pickleball courts at a recreation center, you will need approximately the same amount of space a tennis court would occupy.

The surfacing for pickleball courts is typically concrete, asphalt or plastic tiles. Most courts add fencing and lighting to keep the games safe for players and spectators alike. To make your court stand out, consider adding water fountains and a shade structure to serve as a convenient “cooldown area” in between matches.

   5. Nature Center

Nature centers are usually located within a protected open space, such as a state or city park, and are designed to educate visitors about the local environment. Many feature walking and biking paths or special gardens, with educational signage pointing out native species and highlighting conservation efforts in the area. 

When designing a nature center, choose surfacing that will make walking through the area comfortable and accessible. Including bike loops and clearly marked walkways will direct the flow of traffic and help prevent accidents.

   6. Picnic Area

Picnic areas are a common site in parks and recreation areas, providing guests a space to meet and hold events. Most include a variety of site furnishings, including:

    • Picnic tables and seating
    • Restrooms
    • Water faucets
    • Trash receptacles
    • Built-in barbecue grills
    • Steel shelters

When designing your picnic area, look for natural patterns in the landscape. For example, if your park has a pond or lake, you could arrange your site furnishings to follow the natural curves of the shoreline.

   7. Dog Park

Dog parks are a great way to encourage visitors (both human and canine!) to socialize and enjoy your outdoor space. Most dog parks require fencing around the perimeter at least five feet or higher to prevent dogs from jumping over. A staged entrance area, particularly one with a double gate system, will ensure people and their pets can enter and exit calmly.

Other key features of successful dog parks include:

    • Hydration stations for dogs
    • Exercise equipment
    • Shade structures
    • Trash receptacles
    • Pet waste bag dispensers
    • Benches and other seating

   8. Splash Pad

Splash pads encourage physical activity and social interaction in a family-friendly environment. The best splash parks deliver a unique sensory experience for their community by combining imagination and innovation.

To create a stellar splash pad, you can add elements like surface sprays, creature features, tumble buckets and playground water cannons, custom water slides and water park play structures. No one will leave disappointed — or dry!

   9. Obstacle Course

Obstacles courses challenge visitors with different pieces to get through, allowing them to get fit while having fun. The key to a fun obstacle course is to add a variety of obstacles: to make guests run, jump, crawl, climb and keep their balance to complete the course.

By adding elements like rock walls and outdoor fitness equipment, you can offer both easy and difficult exercises and encourage everyone to take on the challenge, regardless of their fitness level.

   10. Community Gathering Place

A community gathering place can be so many things. Before you pick out site furnishings, consider what makes your outdoor space special and what features you want to emphasize.

For example, if your location has beautiful trees and greenery, then maybe you could add a few game tables nearby so that visitors can enjoy the natural shade while playing. If you have a wide open space available, on the other hand, you might want to add seating and fire rings to encourage guests to use the area year-round.

The best community gathering place design will be one that reflects the interests of the community it’s serving. Why not ask your visitors what they would like to see?

Enhance Your Outdoor Space with All Inclusive Rec

With thoughtful planning and design, outdoor spaces can go beyond promoting health and fostering social interactions — they can become a reflection of your community’s identity. But what steps do you need to take to create an outdoor space to serve your community?

All Inclusive Rec has decades of experience helping communities create outdoor spaces that inspire people to gather and connect. Our team can help guide landscape architects through the planning process with 3-D CAD drawings, fly-through video animations, competitive quotes on installation and consultations on safety and accessibility standards.

Contact us today to create an engaging outdoor space for your community!