Top 5 playgrounds for water features
H20 rules at these Chicago-area parks.
Ty Warner Spray Park, Westmont
The community pool might seem a little dull after visiting this West Suburban sprayground. While the rubber-surfaced splash pad’s zero-depth pool makes it friendly to tots, there’s plenty here to keep the big kids frolicking, too: They can use rotating water cannons to blast frenemy forces, run through a tunnel of spray rings, or just cool off under towering mushroom showers. But one of the most popular features is the dump buckets: The hanging tubs take about a minute-and-a-half to fill up, while kids eagerly huddle below in anticipation of the inevitable water dump. Chaise lounges, a nearby concession stand and two on-duty park staffers help parents relax. Plaza and Blackhawk Drs, Westmont (630-963-5252, wpd4fun.org). May 26 through Labor Day, 10am–8pm; after Labor Day 10am–2pm until it gets cold. Kids $5, Westmont kids $3, adults free.
Adams Playground Park
This hidden gem is tucked away in a treelined residential nook of Lincoln Park made even more obscure by a series of one-way and angled streets. The gated back end of the park beckons with a soft-surface, zero-depth pool with a water-spouting playground as its centerpiece. Here, kids can climb up; slide down; cool off under the spray beams, spouts and sprinklers; or toy with interactive features such as spray levers. Our personal favorite: ropes that, when tugged, dump water on anyone waiting below. 1919 N Seminary Ave (312-742-7787, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Water features open mid-June through Labor Day. 6am–11pm. Free.
Glencoe Beach, Glencoe
Can’t decide between the beach or the pool? We feel for you (not). Fortunately, Glencoe’s new beachfront sprayground lets you have the best of both. With beautiful Lake Michigan as a backdrop, the nautically themed water playground is built right into the sand, so there’s almost zero chance of skinned knees. And it’s packed with fun, animated water features such as a spray pole, a spouting water turtle and, for older kids, a climbable tugboat. Little kids can busy themselves at the interactive Mermaid’s Fountain, which lets wee ones mix and move sand and water. Memorial Day through Labor Day. 160 Hazel Ave, Glencoe (847-835-1185, glencoeparkdistrict.com). Open weekends only May 26 through Jun 3, 10am–7pm. Jun 4–Aug 5, 10am–8pm; Aug 6–Sept 3, 10am–7pm. Playground free with beach admission ($10, kids $7; Glencoe residents $6, kids $4).
63rd Street Beach
There are so many things to love about this South Side Beach at Jackson Park, from the gorgeous Classical Revival–style 1919 bathing pavilion to the mouthwatering jerk chicken served at Belly Up’s beachfront stand nearby. But behind the beach house, a handsome water pad made up of concentric circles of water spouts draws dozens of jumping, hopping, splashing little ones. The alternating spouts keep kids entertained for hours during beach closings—which, sadly, happen with some regularity here. 6300 S Lake Shore Dr (312-742-4847, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Mid–June through Labor Day. 6am–11pm. Free.
Mary Bartelme Park
Less than two years old, the tidy green space in the West Loop is the crown jewel of ecofriendly innovation with native plants, seating made of terra cotta repurposed from the infirmary that once stood on site, and—no joke—pavers made of a special cement that actually chomps pollutants. Impressive, but the main attraction when the mercury climbs is the stunning, stainless-steel sculptural squares that form a misting archway to walk through. It’s equal parts rejuvenating refreshment and beautiful work of art. 115 S Sangamon St (312-742-7529, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Misting sculpture runs mid-June through Labor Day. 6am–11pm. Free.