Parque de la Plancha is located just a few blocks east of Paseo de Montejo and is part of an urban plan to connect some outdoor public spaces with a network of bikeways and trees. Impressive enough to have already been called Mérida’s “Central Park” and even the “best park in México,” it is expected to become one of the city’s greenest lungs. It might not look like it, now that all the recently transplanted trees are bare and leafless, but they look big enough to provide plenty of shade and oxygen very soon. So far, La Plancha appears to be living up to the hype: the crowds here seem to affirm that the city is loving its new and fun-filled backyard.
The first thing to know is—this park is really big! Just as we’d found something fun to explore, we’d see “over there” that there would be something more. Playground after playground, the kids had an absolute blast and I was amazed at all it had to offer. We stayed three hours, and left with plans to return with swimsuits and skates.
La Plancha with Little Kids
If you go with little kids, you might want to park towards the south end, and explore that part first. There is plenty of streetside parking. You will find playgrounds ideal for ages 2-12, picnic areas, and an interactive fountain (not yet working when we went, but it appears to be prepped for a splash pad). The playground equipment design is top-notch, with a wide variety that keeps the kids entertained. Just be aware that the ground here is covered with sand, so take them in clothes you don’t mind getting dusty.
The shading is well thought out. There are tarps over the playgrounds, trees in the picnic areas, and a long covered walkway that runs the length of the park. Still, if you are not planning on getting wet, the mornings and evenings are best for avoiding the heat. The park will always be open with security guards on site, and the lights stay on until well after dark.
La Plancha with Teenagers
Teenagers will want to check out the playground at the north end of this section, before crossing the street, with the long hanging ropes. It’s an open-air gym made especially for teens and adults and looks like great fun!
Walking across the street to the north side, you will see a pool that is not actually meant for swimming (although you can). Intended to be walked through, feel free to take off your shoes and cool yourself off. The water won’t get past your knees.
The large building in front holds a food court and bathrooms and is open 8am – 10pm. There is another playground here that the kids will love.
The Skate Park, Dog Park, and open-air gym
If you are going with teens, skates, bikes, or a dog – you might want to explore the north end first. The Skate Park, Dog Park, and open-air gym are all situated at the northmost end, conveniently in front of a parking lot. Note that the skateboarding ramps here are challenging, ideal for intermediate and advanced skaters, and helmets are required.
There are several paved trails throughout the park for biking and skating. Most are contained within the north section of the park, but one crosses the street and weaves through all the playgrounds. The trails are marked on signs around the park.
Bikes and skates are not allowed on the upper level of the long two-story walkway, but a scenic stroll at night is nice for overlooking the playgrounds and picturesque streets. It’s also a great way to get your kids back in the car if they don’t want to leave!
Last but not least, there’s a large and beautiful lake! Just after dusk, there’s a fountain light show that the family will surely love.
Parque de la Plancha promotes more than just recreation. It fosters community and culture and trees, it holds trains that allude to its past, an enormous flag that claims its significance, and museums and an amphitheater that promise there’s more yet to come.
Editorial by Monica Starling
Writer, architect and mom, living in the Yucatán since 2007.
Photography by Monica Starling, and Carlos Guzmán for use in Yucatán Today.
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