It’s summer in Chicago—time to break out the swimming suits! It might not seem like the ideal season for wet-and-wild fun, but that doesn’t mean splishing and splashing is out of the question. These low-cost and local options—and did we mention indoor?—are just the ticket. My family of four checked them out to give you the inside scoop.
Schaumburg Park District
505 N. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg
Youth: $7, $5 residents; Adults: $9, $7 residents
Best for: Feeling like a kid again
This giant indoor water park has features to keep kids and parents giddy all day. The water playground slides and rapid water channel were our 3- and 5-year-old’s favorites. The drop slide and diving board gave the hubs and I quite a rush. Water slides for those 48 inches and above are thrilling—one goes straight down! The grill is great for a quick snack, pizza or burger.
Fox Valley Park District
2121 W. Indian Trail, Aurora
$9, $8 resident; free kids under 2
Best for: Children of varying ages
Upon entering, you can clearly see how this park district earned The National Gold Medal, the highest honor possible in parks and recreation. The water park features the best tot area I have seen, with seesaws and swings. Imagine not having to wrangle the baby in your arms the entire visit! There are two water slides for those over 48 inches. The tube slide bursts out the building and is even visible from the highway. My 5-year-old son loved the interactive water play area. There’s also a rope cross great for school-age kids.
Oak Brook Park District
1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook
Youth: $8, $6 resident; Adults $12, $10 resident
Best for: Exercise
The basketball net and kids’ exercise lane with noodles are awesome for play and to practice swimming. The children’s water play area with geysers and water slide are great, too. But the best part of this pool was the locker rooms. The large, carpeted locker area kept the little ones from slipping and sliding, and hand blow dryers kept the chills away.
Glenview Park District
2400 Chestnut Ave., Glenview
$6, free kids under 2
Best for: Aviation lovers
The air traffic control-themed water slide is a hit with the pre-K set. We also loved the large lap pool lane to practice swimming. Wiggles and Giggles Childcare Service is available to drop off the littlest ones for some special time with an older child. There’s also an Aqua Shop for goggles, swim diapers and noodles.
Center Lagoon Pool
Elk Grove Park District
1000 Wellington Ave., Elk Grove Village
$9, $7 resident, under 2 free
Best for: Younger kids
The newly resurfaced pool is a hit with young families. One- and two-foot deep waters are great for little ones to wade. On the deeper end is a basketball net and 72-foot water slide for those over 43 inches. My daughter loved tossing the beach balls and slinking around like an alligator in shallow waters.
Wheeling Park District
333 W. Dundee Road, Wheeling
$5.50 youth, $6.50 adults, free kids under 2
Best for: New swimmers
The Petie the Polar Bear toddler slide at this quiet pool is a draw for young families. The best part for our 3- and 5-year-olds was the mini lazy river. Its gentle current helped our kindergartner feel confident swimming on his own after limited practice in the winter months.
Streamwood Park District
550 S. Park Blvd., Streamwood
Youth: $5, $4 residents; adults: $7, $5 residents
Best for: Warm water lovers
The Cool Pool is actually quite the opposite—very, very warm. No blue lips here! This quiet, contained water park boasts a horseshoe channel with bubble bench in the middle. The tot slide, which ends with a bump into shallow waters, provided tons of laughs. Our group had so much fun, we all slept very well that night!
1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee
Cost: from $139 a night, includes water park admission
Best for: A mini getaway
If you’re searching for a family escape, look no farther than tropical KeyLime Cove water park resort. 65,000 square feet of water thrills are waiting in the balmy 84-degree park. The giant Vortex slide gets pulses pounding for those over 48 inches. We enjoyed sailing down the tube slides with our 5-year-old. Three mini slides in the Lil’ Limers section kept both our kids entertained for hours.