401 Thatcher Ave, River Forest
Best for: 7 and younger
With two playgrounds separated by a softball field and a side street, one playground is better suited for a younger crowd. Across the street is a more mature park, with a netted structure and higher slides, but is still fun for ages as young as 2.
Why kids love it: I have little train lovers and there is a section where kids can get inside a play train and maybe even watch the real life Metra trains pass nearby. There is a good sized sand box, so if your kids love the beach you can bring sand toys for lots of fun in the sand! This playground is perfect for obstacle courses and making friends.
Why parents love it: There is plenty of space for the kids to run around, picnic tables for packed lunches, clean public restrooms and a spontaneous sprinkler system that will have the kids feeling like they hit the jackpot. Oh yes, maybe bring a change of clothing for them just in case!
Good to know: In the winter there is a sledding hill, and in the summer there are batting cages, tennis courts and side-by-side baseball fields. They have a few fun parties in the summer with live entertainment, jump houses, hot dogs, face painting and more. The next party is on July 20 at 6 p.m.
800 Lake St in Oak Park
Best for: Up to 7
Why kids love it: The playground is clean, and the rubber ground is more comfy to run around than woodchips found at other nearby parks. They can running down the nearby hill after they play, kick a soccer ball around, make friends and grab an ice cream or treat from one of the many shops only steps from the park.
Why parents love it: A pretty large portion of the playground is fenced in. There are shady benches to sit on and watch the kids play, and there are public bathrooms onsite. If you forget to pack a lunch for a picnic, there are so many local options for picky eaters!
Good to know: Besides for an adorable playground, there are tennis courts, a large grassy area for picnics, tons of café’s and restaurants steps away and a free summer concert series every Sunday starting at 5:30 p.m. It is also walking distance from the Harlem Green Line and Metra train. If it starts raining, or if you need a change of scenery, the Oak Park Public Library is adjacent.