Prior to a few weeks ago, I had never visited Woodland Park. So you can imagine my surprise when I pulled up to its main building amidst preschool drop off. That’s right, this beautiful, natural setting plays host to a preschool. Upon entering the offices of the Portage Parks Department and speaking with Parks Superintendent Jenny Orsburn, I learned that Woodland is home to more than I could have ever imagined, and just about all anyone could ever want.
The center of Portage’s park system, Woodland has been an ever-evolving community staple since its establishment in the 1960s. Orsburn said the park has gone through “everything,” at one point even offering a skating rink. However, with frequent updates, great programing and numerous amenities, its future looks just as bright.
This 54-acre park, composed of oak savannah forest, provides great outdoor facilities, including a dog park, a skate park, two playgrounds, ball fields, a boulder play area and picnic shelters available for rent.
The community center at Woodland Park is a true gem, with banquet halls, meeting rooms, and an indoor sports room. All are available to rent, but you must do so well in advance as they book quickly.
A large variety of activities is always occurring at Woodland. I’ll mention a few of these opportunities below, but with so many offerings, I’m bound to miss some. Orsburn advises that the best way to stay current is to check the city newsletter or the parks department’s website and Facebook page.
Two camps will occur at Woodland this summer, one for pre-K children and one for K-5th graders. Don’t miss Music in the Park, occurring Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Oakwood Hall. Admission is free. Haunted hayrides will take place this fall from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 22-24. Finally, the 32nd annual Christmas Craft Show will happen from 9 a.m.m to 3 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29.
For general information about the park, camp and rental information and a schedule of activities, visit www.inportageparks.com. The park is also on Indiana Dunes Tourism’s Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail (www.beyondthebeachdiscoverytrail.com) because it’s among the area’s top natural, cultural and historical assets.