After reading about Cheryl’s Park Crawl and our ridiculously long winter, I have been itching to get out and try all the parks! When we first moved here, my son was just starting school, and I only visited a handful of nearby playgrounds regularly before his sister also started school. I now have two toddlers that are home full-time and ready to play, and I am ready to explore and find some new parks!
Wednesdays usually are my run morning. In researching paved paths for another story, I saw that Hastings Lake has a 2+ mile paved loop. I also had seen a friend posting pictures of the new playground and knew it would be a perfect incentive to keep the 3-year-old in the stroller for the run.
Hastings Lake is owned and operated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The trails and playgrounds are all recently built or upgraded, and they are fabulous. This playground has a parking lot right in front of it and bathrooms – in a building with running water! There are play structures and lots of open space to run around.
You’ll see in the pictures that this playground is all turf. I love that, in the city, most of our playgrounds were all or partial turf and I find it much neater. With two toddlers I don’t have to worry about anyone eating or throwing woodchips or getting dirty with the shredded tires. It’s also nicer for not yet or new walkers to be able to crawl around on it.
The turf is colored and laid out to resemble a river leading to a lake, complete with fallen logs, beaver hut, swimming beavers, lily pads, a frog and a turtle. Despite being adorable, it also adds another layer of imaginative play that you may not find at other playgrounds.
There are plenty of swings, four regular, two buckets, and two seat swings. The two play structures are the right size to provide lots of activities and room to play. The larger one is rated for up to age 12 and still start low enough to the ground that if little ones escape to it, you have some time to catch them before it gets dangerous.
I have heard from some parents that there is not enough for older kids. I was just there with my toddlers but plan on going back with my school-age children soon. I think it would be perfect up to about age 10-11. There is a free-standing rock for climbing that would be good for older kids.
The whole park overlooks Hastings Lake, and being a forest preserve; there are multiple trails for hiking, biking, and jogging, including a large two-mile loop.
This park will be in heavy rotation on our summer park list!
Hastings Lake Park is on our list for Toddler-Approved Playgrounds, find the perfect playground for your little one!