Places to play in the water that are fun for all ages

2015 shall forever be known as the summer of discontent. With children ranging in age from 2-10, finding something to do that will be a good fit for all four of them is proving to be a hunt for the Holy Grail. Sadly, I don’t have Professor Jones to guide me on this journey, so we are doing a lot of trial and error.


Our biggest challenge thus far has been water play. One mom and four kids can be a safety hazard. While my 8- and 10-year-old know how to swim, the 4- and 2-year-old have just enough skill to be over-confident, and I only have two hands. Most pools are closed, or restricted in the mornings for swim lesson or tot swim. With an afternoon napper, waiting until noon to go to a pool is a recipe for meltdowns. What’s a mom to do?

Splash pads that do more

Once they hit double digits, or really about third grade, splash pads really don’t cut it anymore. You need more than a few sprinklers and a random bucket drop. So far, we have found these two to be the best for entertaining everyone for a morning:


Deerspring Pool, Deerfield (200 Deerfield Rd.)

We visit this pool for the sprayground/kiddie-only hours, which are 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Mon.-Fri. It’s one of the earliest pool openings, and because I have early risers, it’s perfect.


  • The big kids like that the sprayground is a large structure like you would see at a waterpark. There are slides and sprayers, and there is plenty for them to do.
  • The little kids like the zero-depth wading pool and little slide with no sprayers getting them by surprise.
  • Mom will like the huge canopies that shade the area around the spray park as well as part of the wading pool. The two kiddie area are also totally fenced in so there are no little escapes.

Daily admission is per person before 3:30 p.m. and per person after 3:30 p.m.


Mundelein Spray Park, Mundelein (1401 Midlothian Rd.)
This spray park is located behind the community center in the same locale as Barefoot Bay, but it’s completely separate. The spray park is open daily 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2:30-6:30 p.m. and is free daily from 7-8 p.m.


  • The big kids will like the large water cannon and sand box.
  • The little kids will like that there are so many interactive sprayers and low areas to play. (Downside: the ground is concrete, so new walkers will have skinned knees.)
  • Mom will like: The shaded sitting area and the great sight lines — you can see everyone everywhere, except the sandbox.

Daily admission is for non-residents and for Mundlein residents.

Hit the beach

Who can’t have fun at the beach? Sand- and wave-jumping keeps the little ones happy, and there’s plenty of depth for swimmers of all skill sets. We’re finding it to be a perfect happy medium for the kids who want to swim and the little ones who want to wade. This is our favorite:


Paulus Park, Lake Zurich (200 S. Rand Rd.)
I almost hate to tell you about this because it is our favorite, just don’t all rush there at once, okay? Operated by the Lake Zurich Park District, this is the nicest, cleanest beach I have found in the suburbs. It’s open weekdays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. What makes this a favorite is that it includes a spray ground, which opens at 10 a.m., and is almost completely shaded.


  • The big kids will love swimming out to the Wibit Floating rafts and generally splashing and having fun.
  • The little kids will love jumping in the waves and cooling off in the spray park and the sand.
  • Mom will love the huge canopy for shade on the beach and the spray park that is almost completely shaded. There are also real bathrooms with showers.


Daily cost, which includes beach and spray pad, is for adults and for children. 3 and under are free.


Waterparks are another option, and we really enjoy Barefoot Bay, but those really require more than one supervisor for four kids. We have a bucket list of parks and beaches to try out this summer, so I hope to report back with more locations that are great for everyone.

Do you have a suggestion? Let me know, and we will check it out!

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