Playgrounds capture the magic of childhood. Climb on a swing, and you’re no longer merely human—you’re an airplane, a bird, a superhero. Sail down a slide and wonder, at the dismount, how six seconds of life could possibly be so fun. Here are two of my favorite playgrounds in Northbrook, chosen for their knack to take an ordinary afternoon and transform it into hours of carefree imagination.
Wood Oaks Green Park
1150 Sanders Rd., Northbrook
Best for: Toddlers to 10-year-olds
Why kids love it: Two separate playgrounds adjacent to each other cater to younger kids on one side, older kids on the other. The smaller playground is perfectly pint-sized, while its larger counterpart gives older kids plenty of thrills—including a miniature climbing wall and not one, but two enclosed tube slides.
Why parents love it: Aside from solving the younger/older sibling challenge, there are plenty of shady spots along the playground to hang while the kids play. If your little ones tire easily of the playground, never fear: Wood Oaks offers a bajillion other options within its 55 acres, such as fishing, baseball, soccer and rolling down a giant grassy hill.
Good to know: Restrooms are located right next to the playground, which means no endless trek when the need strikes. Also adjacent to the playground is a covered, rentable picnic area perfect for birthday parties. Before you leave for the day, trudge up the giant sled hill for a beautiful view of the entire park.
Village Green Park
Shermer and Meadow roads, Northbrook
Best for: 4- to 12-year-olds
Why kids love it: With slides, ramps, tunnels, bridges, swings and sand, there’s something here for every stage of kid-dom. And, OK, little ones might also love that Graeter’s Ice Cream and Baskin Robbins are both right across the street.
Why parents love it: Though the playground and surrounding park are spacious, the area is small enough that it’s easy to keep on an eye on your kids, even if they’re off doing their own thing. Plenty of lunch and dinner options are just a few feet away, from casual hot dogs at Little Louie’s to super-good sushi at Kamehachi.
Good to know: Village Green is where the village of Northbrook hosts many of its outdoor events. There’s often something going on, which lends a fun vibe to the playground (think lots of kids getting along and having a good time—pretty great, right?). Also, the Northbrook Metra station is just steps away, so if you have somewhere to be, there’s not far to go.