The best playgrounds near me: Naperville

Naperville has an abundance of wonderful parks (140, in fact!). There are a few standouts that make for a great day of play. 

Knoch Knolls Park

336 Knoch Knolls Road (south Naperville)

Best for: Nature-loving kids and big kids. (There is equipment for kids from 2 to 12 with separate sections for little kids and bigger kids, so something for everyone, but big kids seem to particularly love this playground.)

Why kids love it: There is something for all ages at this nature-themed playground, and it appeals to big kids as well as little ones. There are traditional playground staples like swings, slides and a teeter totter, and there are some new takes on classics, like a net swing and a jungle gym that is like an elaborate spider web. The climbing walls have dinosaur fossils waiting to be discovered.

Why parents love it: This playground is nestled on the banks of the DuPage River and Knoch Knolls Nature Center is right next door. (You can read more about it here.) The Nature Center is a great place to learn, a refuge in the rain and the location of clean restrooms. The wildflowers, the paths through the woods and the bridges over the river all make it easy to disconnect and relax. It’s also a beautiful location for a picnic. I’ve seen more parents playing with kids on the equipment here than at any other playground in Naperville.

Good to know: An 18-hole disc golf course is also located at the park, and in addition you’ll find a launch for kayaks and small boats if you want to head out on the river. The Park District hosts Family Nature Nights at the park for families with kids ages 3 and up. The next one is Firefly Fever on July 22.  You can register here.

Jaycees Park along the Riverwalk

500 W. Jackson Ave. (near downtown Naperville)

Best for: Toddlers and preschoolers

Why kids love it: An ADA-accessible playground, there is a wide variety of play equipment accessible to kids of all abilities. There are Braille and sign language panels. Little ones really love the sand play area. There is also an abundance of slides (eight different ones) in addition to swings, climbers and standard playground equipment.

Why parents love it: This shady playground is close to all that downtown Naperville has to offer but with ample parking and a bit more serenity. Restrooms are nearby in the Warming House. You can sometimes hear concerts from the Millennium Carillon here. A walk along the River Walk is fun and can be a good chance to see nature. On a walk earlier this week along the River Walk, we saw ducks and ducklings, a heron, squirrels, chipmunks and a raccoon. It’s paved and very stroller-friendly. If your child is into Pokemon, this area is a happy hunting ground.

Good to know: Events often take place in the Grand Pavilion, which is very close to the playground. On July 25, Miss Jamie’s Farm will perform at 11:30 a.m. as part of the Park District’s Children’s Lunch Hour Entertainment there. Pack a picnic and enjoy the show! To get to the playground, enter the Centennial Beach parking lot, proceed to the back near the river, turn right and head west. A large parking lot is available adjacent to the playground.

Nike Sports Complex

1520 N. Mill St. (north Naperville)

Best for: Sports-loving kids

Why kids love it: This is one of the Naperville Park District’s biggest playgrounds. Speaking of size, the large climbing boulder in the middle of the playground is a big hit. The sports fields surrounding the playground are expansive and you can see people playing everything from sand volleyball to tennis to cricket.

Why parents love it: Near the playground is a pavilion with bathrooms and picnic tables as well as shade when the sun is intense. There is also a running track around the entire complex if you’re really trying to tire to the kids out.

Good to know: The parking lot for the park is off of Mill Street, the entrance to the baseball fields is off of Diehl Road.

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