We set out this summer to find some great inclusive suburban spots to play. Here are 10 we think everyone will enjoy.
1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook
The Sandlot is Oak Brook Park District’s newest attraction. It is a fully accessible and inclusive park equipped with two ramps for wheelchair accessibility and adaptable swings.
What kids will love: Kids will enjoy the musical elements and saucer swing.
What parents will love: The variety of play equipment for all abilities and shaded seating area.
Special note: This is a perfect location to host a playdate or birthday party. This is an inclusive playground that really suits the needs for various abilities.
15W400 Harvester Drive, Burr Ridge
Harvester Park is nearly 37 acres of wetlands equipped with playgrounds, fishing, trails, observations points, discovery centers and much more.
What kids will love: The splash pad and musical barn fully stocked with instruments to create various musical sounds.
What parents will love: The shaded pavilion and accessibility to restrooms and plentiful parking.
Special note: There are no accessible swings. However this park is full of sensory-stimulating elements, including the instruments, waterplay, splash pad and sand box. There is also a ramp and paved pathways to maneuver through the park.
7100 Clarendon Hills Road, Darien
A fully ADA accessible park for children of all abilities to enjoy and allow their imaginations to run wild. The park is equipped with imagination stations to allow children to use their creativity along with a spongy surface to easily maneuver about the playground.
What kids will love: Chalk wall and drama village stage for performing.
What parents will love: Fully fenced-in playground and plenty of seating.
Special note: There are no bathrooms, however there is a portable potty.
2000 W. Army Trail Road, Hanover Park
Indoor play place for children that have sensory sensitivities. This playhouse doubles as play place that has dual functionality equipment perfect for play or developing strength.
What kids will love: The sensory stations, painting, zipline and quiet time in the “carwash” for those moments when they need to decompress.
What parents will love: Playologists! The Playologists are in place to not only to keep kiddos safe but to play alongside with them. This allows parents an opportunity to sit back, relax or observe their child.
Special note: Some therapists visit the playhouse with patients using interchangeable equipment on site.
2350 W. Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates and other cities
Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center dedicated to providing educational, therapeutic and career development services free to individuals with Down syndrome.
What kids will love: Children love the vibrant and fun atmosphere along with all of the fun toys and classes.
What parents will love: Free educational and support services and warm sense-of-joy atmosphere.
Special note: Gigi’s Playhouse has many locations throughout Illinois and beyond. The Hoffman Estates location has a beautiful cafe run by teens looking to gain work skills.
2751 Navistar Drive, Lisle
An inclusive playground and garden nestled in the DuPage Forest Preserves’ Danada South area, this playground is completely sensory based with gardens that ignite fragrances of flowers and herbs and instruments that evoke sound.
What kids will love: Sound garden with chimes and drums.
What parents will love: The shaded central gathering area equipped with benches and picnic tables.
Special note: The park has a trail that’s suitable for running or walking with six workout stations along the way for a quick stationary workout. The trail is suitable for strollers and wagons.
1435 Jefferson Ave., Downers Grove
Universally designed playground with double-wide ramps, relaxation station, connected climbing structures and structures that adapt to a wheelchair or walker.
What kids will love: Kids love the connected structures with lots of opportunities to climb through each structure.
What parents will love: Relaxation station for children who need to rest or are overly stimulated.
Special note: This playground is located on school grounds and is only open to the public on days when class is not in session and during the end of the school day.
151 S. Water St, South Elgin
Inclusive playground equipped with adaptable swings and ramps allowing parallel play for children with all abilities.
What kids will love: The adaptable swings and wide open spaces allowed for additional play space.
What parents will love: Beautiful scenery, shelter with picnic tables and accessibility to Fox River. It’s a great location to have an extended afternoon of fun.
Special note: Fishing opportunities are available on the premises and walking trails.
553 E. Dundee Road, Palatine
We Rock The Spectrum is an indoor gym for children of all abilities. This gym is a true kiddie gym with 10 pieces of uniquely designed sensory equipment.
What kids will love: The variety of equipment available to play on.
What parents will love: The ability for children to have a place to play indoors that is not only sensory stimulating but allows them to be active.
Special note: Check the Facebook page or call ahead of time for open play hours.
311 S Reed St., Joliet
Fully wheelchair accessible playground with apparatuses supporting individuals with various special needs.
What kids will love: The accessible swings that allow wheelchairs to be attached.
What parents will love: The idea that the park is fully wheelchair accessible and with many opportunities for children in wheelchairs to be fully immersed in fun.
Special note: The playground is located on the premises of the Center For Disability Services campus. It is a great resource for families and caregivers to individuals with cerebral palsy and other severe special needs.
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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Chicago Special Parent. Read the rest of the issue.