Winnequah Park is the crown jewel of Monona’s parks: a 45- acre swath of green surrounding a meandering lagoon that runs through the very heart of the city. It features two reservable picnic shelters, two playgrounds, six ball diamonds, three soccer fields, two tennis courts and a variety of other recreational opportunities, including the Monona Community Center, Senior Center and Community Pool.
The section of the park north of Nichols Road is more wooded than the rest of the park, resulting in a shaded and quiet area. This section contains the Firemen’s Park Shelter, the Barry Johnson Baseball Field, two playgrounds, including the “Blue Park,” and the Monona Memorial Arboretum. There’s a parking lot in the northeast corner near the Shelter House and first playground. The Monona Memorial Arboretum just south of the playground is a learning laboratory for science students at Winnequah School, which is on the eastern border of this section of the park.
The lighted tennis courts are heavily used during the summer, as is the pool. The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It features eight 25-meter competition lanes, a diving well, a shallow end, a water slide, a kiddie pool and a snack bar. The city offers swimming lessons throughout the summer as well as lap swimming and water aerobics for adults. The pool can also be rented for private parties. It is also home for the Monona Swim & Dive Club, a competitive swimming program for ages 5-18.
On the south side of Nichols Road is the second section of Winnequah Park, which is a hub of activity all year round. From soccer and softball games to the Fourth of July Community Festival, from fishing in the lagoon to ice-skating during the winter months, there’s something for everyone here.
The centerpiece is the “Monona Youth Dream Park,” a children’s playground built through a community effort spearheaded by Tim and Karen Turino and the Monona Optimists Club. The central area of the Dream Park resembles a large castle with turrets, walls and bridges, a painted moat at the entrance and a dragon sculpture rising from it. A wizard statue welcomes you into this magical land.
A wooden fence surrounds the Dream Park. It contains many different kinds of play equipment, including a sandbox, sand diggers, tic tac toe game, two shaky bridges, mirror maze, tree house, climbing wall, fire pole, tunnels, a chain bridge, monkey bars, a stage and a fort. Outside of the castle area are two swing sets, one with a tire swing, a playhouse, balance beam, tot slide and a sand table. Nearby is the Winnequah Park Shelter, a beautiful facility featuring restrooms, a fireplace, a sink and small countertop area for serving food, overhead glass doors that can be opened or closed for protection from the weather, views of the lagoon, and easy access to the Dream Park playground. The interior of the shelter can accommodate up to 50 people while the surronding grounds can support much larger groups. This shelter has about 15 picnic tables around the shelter area. The Winnequah park shelter is available for rental.
New in 2009, the Parks Department has invited local musicians to play music at the Winnequah Park Gazebo. Click below to watch the premiere concert!