Confession: For years I hated going to the park with my kids. Why? Because honestly…it was a bit boring. I mean, if you have seen one swing, you have seen them all…right? That’s what I thought until I finally convinced my kids to try a new park across town. And let me tell you…OUR MINDS WERE BLOWN. Exploring an entirely different type of park made taking my kids to play a perk instead of an errand, so our family is constantly on the hunt for a new park to explore. Yours too? Then have I got a resource for you! Here is our list of the absolute BEST Parks in Chicagoland, broken down by area. So lace up your shoes, grab a bottle of water, and slather on the sunscreen because these amazing parks are waiting for you and your family to come play!
BEST PARKS IN THE NORTHWEST SUBURBS
This massive, nature inspired playground is a hit with kids of all ages. It has slides, climbing, and balancing structures, opportunities for musical play…and of course, some messy fun. Pack a change of clothes in case your kids want to explore the sand and water areas and don’t forget to check out the adjacent nature center and hiking trails. Don’t forget it is closed Monday mornings for maintenance!
This park is a HIT with elementary school students. Why? Because it is one of the only official ninja warrior parks in Chicagoland. The professional set up, turf field, and even self-timer brings out the competitor in ANYONE who comes to the park. Just be sure to set up the smaller kiddos at the adjacent park since the Ninja equipment isn’t appropriate for their use.
Clean, creative, and just plain fun are three works to describe Flick Park. Because of the unique layout of the park, kids can play simultaneously at different playgrounds while you watch over all of them, which is great for families who have both older and younger kids. There are trails, fields for sports, and a lagoon to check out the local wildlife.
Twin Lakes is one of the most popular parks in the Northwest Suburbs because there is so much going on there. Golf course, driving range, café, fishing, boating, and recreational activities. And I haven’t even gotten to the playgrounds yet! It is a perfect park for a play date since there are so many options in case kids get restless. Just be prepared for a LONG walk to and from the parking lot (bring your stroller!).
You know how cool it is to have a tree house? Well, Citizen’s Park in Barrington has the ULTIMATE treehouse! There are also hiking trails, a gazebo, as well as tennis and basketball courts and a traditional playground to explore.
BEST PARKS IN THE SOUTH/WESTERN BURBS
Ty Warner Park is the perfect summer mecca because of the splash pad and HUGE sand area (Just be sure to enjoy sand play before water play or else you will end up with a MESS). Cool off with a treat from the concession stand and enjoy a nap or break in the shady trees. Such a beautiful summer respite.
This inclusive playground promotes play for EVERYONE. The equipment has such a wide variety that kids of all ages and abilities can play alongside each other and play together at the same time—something that doesn’t occur enough at other playgrounds.
This park is a mecca for climbers. Zip lines, rock walls, and climbing webs are begging to be explored. Have a younger kiddo? Bring a stroller to cruise the paved paths and explore the secondary playground area.
This park has 20 recreational acres for outdoor lovers. The playground is centered around a whimsical tree and has bridges, ladders, and other climbable equipment to explore the “Tree of Life” area.
If you are looking for it, chances are Mary Knoll Park has it. In addition to an adventure playground, Mary Knoll Park also has a splash park, platform tennis courts, bocce ball courts, horse shoe pits, party areas, a 9 hole disc golf course and an adjacent mini golf course.
This 50 acre park has ample playgrounds for kids of all ages. It has a 1.2 mile loop for stroller walks (and runs if you are feeling ambitious) and an adjacent mini-golf course. Known as the crown jewel of the Downers Grove Park District, it is the perfect place to put down the screens and play.
While this 40 acre facility is being developed in phases, it is already a stellar park in its early stages. The Sensory Garden Play Ground is a combination of sensory integrated playground equipment and amenities along with gardening areas. It is a beautiful place to learn and grow.
Both a neighborhood park and entertainment venue, Festival Park is a popular spot in the summer. Pretend to be spider man (or girl) while navigating the numerous web climbing structures and then cool off at the free splash pad fountain.
BEST PARKS IN THE NORTHERN BURBS
This massive and majestic park has something for everyone. There are tons of gorgeous trees to enjoy all year long, as well as separate playgrounds for all age groups. It also boats one of the tallest slides we have ever seen AND a dinosaur themed park. I mean, who doesn’t want to play alongside a T-rex?!?
So much climbing to do, so little time. This hidden gem of a park is the perfect place for a picnic and climbing session. Not only does it have a massive spider web and other equipment to promote active play, but it also has a small Ninja Warrior obstacle course.
Warren Park is a park that is so massive and vast that you can spend the ENTIRE day there and never get bored. The different, separate playgrounds are organized by age group and focused around the main attraction—a massive sand box filled with DINOSAUR BONES. It’s so fun for kids of all ages—just be sure to bring an extra set of helping hands in case your different aged kids run off in opposite directions.
This beautiful park is free for Lake County residents but totally worth the splurge if you aren’t a resident. Why? Independence Grove has hiking trails, fishing, kayaking…and one of the coolest playgrounds you will ever see. The enclosed, rubber ground playground has tons of tunnels, slides, and climbing walls to keep kids active and quite honestly…exhaust them! Head to the beach to cool off after working up a sweat.
A park that makes a thirty something year old mom feel like a kid again? Well, that’s what Bowen Park can do. It boasts a 40 foot tube slide built into the side of a hill, a double decker spider climber and a free splash pad. Bring on the fun!
BEST PARKS IN THE CITY OF CHICAGO
Let’s be honest…Maggie Daley Park is the crown jewel of Chicagoland playgrounds. It is vast, beautiful, clean…but to be honest a bit chaotic. With stunning views of Lake Michigan and a wide array of activities, it is a park that shouldn’t be missed. Just be sure to visit on a weekday (so less crowded) and read my tipsbefore you head over to the lakefront.
This vast 13 acre park has TONS to offer your little nature lovers. Highlights include the nature play center, children’s spray pool, and the duck filled lagoon.
Located in Chinatown, this gorgeous park boasts a beautiful rolling green space with stunning river views. I love how the children’s playground is mixed in with Chinese landscape design elements for a one of a kind park experience. There are also kayak rentals available.
The Yellow Brick Road comes alive at Oz Park. Kids will enjoy interacting with artwork inspired by “The Wizard of Oz” as well as exploring the wooden tornado playground. Just be careful to avoid splinters!
The modern and unique equipment at the Union Park Playground make this urban play space stand apart from all the others. Climbing is at the forefront of play, through either the large dome structure or swimming rope bridge course. Definitely cool off at the water sprayer after you have worked up a sweat!
This 5.9 acre park has tons of physical activity to offer, from gardening to baseball, soccer, or basketball in addition to its popular playground and water features. The entire playground is ADA compliant and has fun sections for both the little and big kids—even a club house with a “Kids Only” sign. I mean, it doesn’t get any more fun than that.
This Garfield Park “Fitness Playground” is perfect for kids and adults alike. Kids can get their wiggles out while parents work up a sweat navigating the modern equipment, which includes metal and rubber climbing structures as well as a zip line.
Train themed playground equipment right next to a fire station and right off the Mag Mile (which means you can bribe your kids into shopping with you for a bit). It doesn’t get more convenient or exciting than this park.
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