The best playgrounds near me: Chicago’s North Side

Wondering what’s worthwhile just west of Lincoln Square? The north side neighborhoods of Ravenswood Manor and Irving Park are terrific for young families, incredibly walkable and — in case the tots in tow get snacky — feature some of the best cart food in town.

Ravenswood Manor Park Playlot Park

4626 N. Manor Ave., Chicago

Best for: Little and big kids alike, and caregivers who enjoy a good (momentary) rest

Why kids love it: While grownup neighbors refer to the triangular park simply as “Manor,” kids gleefully request the “Choo-choo park.” Situated right by the Francisco Brown Line Stop, there’s no bad spot to view the constant parade of north and southbound trains.

Why parents love it: The playlot underwent a complete makeover in the summer of 2015 through the Chicago Plays! Renovation Program, resulting in brand new jungle gyms (made of softly forgiving engineered wood fiber) for toddlers as well as bigger climbers. The park’s smaller size also allows for the chance to sit and catch your breath without letting your adventurer out of your sight. 

Good to know: Though one of the tinier Chicago parks, this neighborhood hub hosts a variety of events throughout the summer and fall, from live music to theatrical performances. (July 21 features a fam-friendly concert from “Generation,” with music from the ‘60s and ‘70s.)

Horner Park 

2741 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago

Best for: The whole family!

Why kids love it: With 55 acres to play around in, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. Baseball fields (two with lights for night games!), soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, 13 picnic groves just perfect for birthday parties, and — oh yeah — that newly renovated and expansive playground. 

Why parents love it: One of the largest parks on the north side, the field house offers everything from a top notch preschool to athletic facilities back to artistic classes for adults. It also boasts one of the few “sleddable” hills in the area; hey, Chicago kids have to take what they can get. 

Good to know: Horner Park loves to celebrate year ‘round. Neighborhood parties and pumpkin patches are always worth the trip, but the long-anticipated Farmers Market is one big sustainably sourced celebration of summertime proportions. (Runs Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. through October.)

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