Hidden away in a residential pocket of Grayslake is Jones Island Park, which provides FREE public access to the eponymous Grays Lake. Recent renovations to the park make it an even better summer fun destination.
The vibrant and familiar playground is still there along with the sand volleyball courts, a boat ramp, and fishing channels.
New features for 2015 include expansion and improvements to the beach area which is now clearly defined with a low stone wall. The overall look is much more manicured, and the wall is great for drying out towels, keeping sand out of your shoes, or for caregivers trying to avoid sand in their shorts.
The old picnic shelters have been replaced with shiny new pavilions. Come early if you hope to secure a spot in the pavilion or be prepared to share. The shelter closest to the parking lot away from the beach is available for party rentals.
Conservationists will appreciate the addition of a newly planted rain garden that will help to alleviate stormwater runoff pollution and improve water conditions for Grays slake.
With so much to offer, you’ll want to pack a picnic and spend the day! That’s why Jones Island Park made our list for one of the Best Playgrounds for a Picnic Playdate in Lake County. That being said, visitors with young children should be aware of a few drawbacks and prepare for them…
Parking is located across the street from the park off of Alleghany Road. While it is generally not a busy street along that stretch, it’s still a little nerve-wracking to try and cross with small children while also lugging your gear. Keep a firm hold on littles who don’t yet understand “walking feet” or utilize a stroller, wagon, or wear your wriggly ones in a baby carrier. Better yet, stick everything in a trailer and ride your bike over!
Once you cross the street, you are still several hundred feet away from the playground and beach. Now I don’t mind a nice walk, but when you’re dragging around small children and their stuff you need to be aware of the boat launch and open channels that surround Jones Island (a peninsula really, not an actual island.) If you’ve got the kind of kid who likes to break off and run, you might want an extra set of hands. I did notice one new rail, but for the most part the channels edges are completely open and irresistible to a toddler looking for fishies.
Finally, be aware that there are no restrooms, lockers, outdoor showers and, most importantly, NO lifeguards at Jones Island Park. While the cordoned off area of the lake is shallow (my guesstimate 3-ish feet,) depths may vary depending on recent rainfall. So please, keep an eye on your children, your belongings, and come to terms with using a port-a-potty and open air diaper changes.
Still, you can’t beat the price for views like this on a hot summer day! So long as you come prepared, Jones Island Park will easily become a family favorite.
Jones Island Park
243 Harvey Ave., Grayslake