What’s summer without an outing (or two, or three…) at the park? But if your kids want more than swings and slides, then these cool and unusual park district spaces are a must-see.
2.7 miles through Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square
This railway-turned-sprawling urban trail gives new meaning to all access. It has more than 15 access points along the trail and fewer usage restrictions.
What’s cool? Four of the entry points are parks, including the green fields of Walsh Park and the spider web playscapes of Julia de Burgos Park. Equally cool? Walkers, bikers, runners, strollers and even skateboarders are welcome. And it’s Fido-friendly too! The 606 is open daily from 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Plan a visit: The 606 is turning 1, and you’re invited! Join in the celebration on June 4, all along the trail. The day-long party includes a street festival on Humboldt Boulevard.
500 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville; (630) 848-5092
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a beach in your own backyard? Well, Naperville does! Take an old stone quarry, fill with water and voila—instant beach!
What’s cool? This neighborhood watering hole has tons of amenities, including water play features, diving boards and a slide. You don’t find those at ordinary beaches! There are different swim zones, too: zero depth, lap lanes and deep water. Kids need to pass a deep water test to swim in the deep water. Opens May 28.
Plan a visit: If you’re in need of parental alone time, adult floats take place on Saturday mornings from 9-10:55 a.m. Or if you have family members with special needs, Special Needs Nights are on Sundays in June and July.
5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles; (630) 513-4370
Go ahead, get a little bit country. Mosey on over to this working farm for some farmtastic fun. There are cows, corn and chickens aplenty.
What’s cool? Drop-in programs, and lots of ‘em. Roll up your sleeves and become a farm helper. Kids can milk a cow the old-fashioned way, gather (and take home) freshly laid eggs in the chicken coop or tend to horses. Check the website for the drop-in schedule. Don’t want to get your hands dirty? You can wander the grounds, check out the Summer Kitchen or explore the discovery trail. Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Plan a visit: Catch The Wizard of Oz in the company of some cows at Night at the Mooovies (June 25). Enjoy Oz-themed games, treats fit for the Emerald City and interactive props during the movie. Plus, characters will be on hand for photo ops!
100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora; (630) 892-1550
Load up yer wagon and skedaddle for a peek into pioneer life at this educational—but entertaining—old-timey town.
What’s cool? There’s heaps of fun hidden among the history. Paddle boats, train and a carousel, just to name a few. Hold your horses: The Adventure Playground’s climbing decks, catwalk bridges and ziplines shouldn’t be missed! Reckon you may even meet Olivia the potbelly pig and Tom the turkey who roam the grounds. Open daily May 1-Aug. 28 and weekends in September-October.
Plan a visit: Step into the past at Civil War Days (Aug. 13-14), where you can see a battle between Union and Confederate troops, try some historical crafts, and maybe even meet Honest Abe himself.
901 Leicester Road, Elk Grove; (847) 439-COVE
Ahoy Mateys! Set sail for a fantastically fun afternoon of pirates, pirates and more pirates.
What’s cool? Have we mentioned the pirates? This mini-amusement park is a treasure trove of theme rides and activities, perfect for swashbucklers 9 and under. Kids can captain a pedal boat in Barnacle Bay or take a ship for a spin—literally—on Soarin’ Schooners, the park’s newest ride. Pack a picnic, or pamper your crew with treats at the concession stand. Your little pirates may even dig up some booty at the gift shop! Open Memorial Day through late August.
Plan a visit: Got a kid who’s more into Belle or Batman than Blackbeard? Pirates’ Cove’s theme days take place on Fridays and include Happily Ever After Day (June 24) and Superhero Day (July 29). Kids are welcome to dress up and join the costumed staff in a parade and dance party at the end of the day.