As the summer gives way to fall and cooler air begins to descend upon the northern suburbs of Chicago, kids and parents alike flock back to the parks to soak up time outdoors before winter returns. Northern and Central Lake County boasts some wonderful recreational areas enjoyable to both adults and children alike. Here are a few of the standout parks in the county families will want to be sure to enjoy.

Independence Grove

16400 W. Buckley Rd / Libertyville, 60048
(847) 968-3499

Independence Grove isn’t just a park at which to play for a few hours; it’s a destination to explore during the course of an entire day or afternoon. Although, parents and their little ones certainly enjoy the playground, which boasts equipment for toddlers through school-aged children as well as an actual rock climbing cave, the grove offers so much more. In the summer time, the sandy beach and lake are both open for swimmers and sand-castle architects alike.

Families who like to be active together can also rent paddle boats or bring bicycles to bike the upper and lower paths around the lakes. Independence Grove is also home to a café, so if you’ve forgotten your lunch or snacks, there is a causal option with outdoor dining right onsite. Another perk? Nice bathrooms are located next to the play equipment.

Warren Township Park

17801 W. Washington St./ Gurnee, 60031
(847) 244-1101

Featuring a sandpit complete with digging toys, water fountains and funnels, a music-infused dance game and a conga line of musical instruments just begging to be played, Warren Township Park is an exciting destination for all ages, including parents.

The playground boasts play equipment for toddlers and preschoolers, school-aged children and even tweens. The layout is expansive, and most parents find it helpful to travel in a group, so multiple adult eyes can watch out for little ones who are dispersing in opposite directions.

In addition to the aforementioned, the park also has enormous shade trees, a large climbing net that attracts older kids as well as parents and easily accessible bathrooms in the center of the playground.

Grayslake Central Park

Library Lane at Central Park Road / Grayslake, 60030

Central Park is appropriately located in the heart of Grayslake, just north of the library and west of the Grayslake Aquatic Center.

Central Park actually offers two separate playgrounds at the east and west ends of the park, the eastern playground actually playing home to the free Grayslake Spray Park, which remains open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The playground at the east park features a picnic shelter, toddler friendly climbing gyms/ slide combos and fun obstacle-course-type equipment, perfect for the busy grade-school child or adventurous preschooler.  The west park is geared more toward older kids, with its higher stairs and slides.

Large, lush trees shade much of the park and a walking and biking trail surrounds its entirety, making it easy to get from one end to the other with strollers, bikes or feet.  Nice bathrooms are located near the Spray Park/ east park.

Viking Park

4374 Old Grand Ave. / Gurnee, 60031

Viking Park, located right next to Viking Middle School, is a popular park among mothers with preschoolers especially. While school age children will enjoy the playground equipment nearer to the school, moms and younger children tend to congregate at the playground right next door – one that is completely fenced in and designed to be used by younger children.

Viking Park also features the Skate Park and walking and biking trails, both of which are draws to older children and teens who are accompanying their parents and younger siblings for an afternoon of outdoor fun.  Bathrooms are also just a hop and skip away from the playground.

Illinois Beach State Park


Illinois Beach State Park

1 Lake Front Dr. / Zion, 60099
(847) 662-4811

Illinois Beach State Park isn’t a destination for parents looking to turn their kids loose on playground equipment; rather this park boasts long stretches of sandy beach and the rolling waves of Lake Michigan.

Families looking to have an entire day of outdoor fun need look no further if camping, biking, fishing, picnicking and swimming are desired parts of the equation. The park’s paths are perfect for exploring the fauna and flora of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Restrooms are readily available and sandpits for volleyball give way to authentic stretches of beach.

Hyacynth Worth lives in the northern suburbs with her husband, two small boys and a dog. When the Chicagoland area isn’t basking in 100-degree heat, she and her little ones enjoy the aforementioned parks quite a bit. She writes almost daily at Undercover Mother.