When you have little ones, it is a struggle to find things to do every day that won’t cost you a dime, yet will still entertain them. It is even harder if you have kids of multiple ages. This park is one of my top go-to places on hot summer days when my son has lots of energy to burn, or when friends ask me if we want to meet up.
I stumbled upon this park after a friend told me I was wasting money paying to go to other splash pads when there is one in Grayslake that is totally free. We had been to Central Park West, and were in love with it. So it seemed like a great idea to try out this one. We went on a hot, 80-degree day, intending to just play in the water; however when my son saw the park, his eyes became the size of spaceships.
Situated in the heart of downtown Grayslake, and placed on over 66 acres of land, is this gem of a park. It is located just off of Library Lane, and is in walking distance to the Grayslake Area Public Library and the Grayslake Aquatic Center. This park is also located just a skip and a hop down a path from Central Park West Side. With its two play structures, multiple swings, fully functional bathrooms, climbing rock, gazebo, and free splash pad, it will soon become your ultimate go-to park for summer play dates. You could spend an entire afternoon here and your kids still won’t want to leave.
Preschoolers and toddlers will love the smaller-sized playground. My son loves the double racing slides so he can race a friend down the slide at this park. Apprehensive toddlers will like the slower, wider slide, which allows a parent to slide down next to them.
This park has ropes, walls, stairs, and ladders–everything imaginable for a toddler to climb. The best part is that the structure is low to the ground, making is safer for younger children. Unique to the toddler area is a hole in the middle of the play structure. Toddlers can climb up the bright yellow leaves to make it to the top. I haven’t seen this feature at any other playground before, and my son was pretty proud of himself when he did it all by himself.
There is a gazebo dividing the toddler playground from the bigger playground. Parents with multiple kids can sit in the gazebo and easily watch all of the kids play at once without losing anybody. I have also seen parents and large groups pack a lunch and eat it there. I think it would make a great place to hold a birthday party or a large gathering, as it is in complete shade and in full view of everything.
However, if you want a spot in the gazebo you must get there early and not during peak park hours. Camps and other small groups often claim it and stay there for hours.
The larger play structure features four slides (three of them are racing-style), and a whole bunch of climbing walls, monkey bars, and lots of cool things that I have no idea what they are called. I would say that this section would be well suited for kids ages four and older. I take my son frequently to this park; he is almost four and can just now attempt to play on these structures.
Don’t let my son’s age fool you to think your older child or tween wouldn’t have fun here. I often see “big” kids here (kids ages 12 and older) because the park is surrounded by baseball and soccer fields. We came during dinner time and a few games were just finishing, and before we knew it, the whole place was packed with excited young athletes. It became quite crowded in a short span of time.
You must check off climbing to the top of the giant rock off of your summer bucket list. This five foot-something boulder is probably the most popular component of Central Park. I always see someone on it or climbing on it. I would say that kids age five and older could probably climb this on their own. It was a little too big for my son, and me being five foot one, I wasn’t able to get him up on my own.
No trip to Central Park is complete without a dip in the splash pad. It is one of the only free splash pads in the county. I always bring my son to the splash pad in his bathing suit and then let him dry off on the park afterwards. Make sure you bring some kind of bucket or water bottle with to fill up to play with!
The splash pad is open every day, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Water not on when you get there? Rub the top of the yellow pole in the middle of the splash pad area, and the water will come back on. Check out Kristy’s review of the Central Park splash pad.
If you aren’t already completely smitten with this park, you will be when you see the built in band shelter. Grayslake holds all kinds of summer concerts here that are free to residents. Also in the summer there is the Taste of Grayslake held here in June, as well as firework viewings. Nothing going on that day? I can picture young children putting on shows for their parents and neighbors in their very own theater here.
Don’t leave your teen at home! Central Park features a large “Frolf” (fribee golf) course that runs through the wooded forest directly behind the park. Teens can play there while their younger siblings are having fun on the play structures at the park. The disc golf course never looks terribly crowded, and I have always wanted to give it a try. Maybe this summer I will?
Parking is pretty easy to find at the park, as the lot is very big. Even when there are games going on and the aquatic center is open, I have never had a problem finding a parking spot. Sometimes you may have to walk across a field to get to the park. While it is not terribly far, it seem sure seems like a far walk when you are carrying a screaming toddler who is upset about leaving the park. That is probably my main downside about this park. However, it is nothing that a trip down the road to Tastee Freez for some ice cream can’t fix.
Basically, if you were to ask me to meet up for a play date on any given summer afternoon, there is a good chance that I will tell you to meet me at Central Park. This park definitely caters to all ages, from small toddlers to even teens with its sports amenities and disc golf course. Also you have to agree–nothing can beat the splash pad on a hot day.
So throw your child’s bathing suit on, and toss some sunscreen in your purse, and head down to Central Park in Grayslake.
250 Library Lane, Grayslake
Join us when we go wild with Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital on The Little Lake County Playground Safari! Our next outpost for adventure heads to Central Park & Spray Park on Wednesday, July 13, 2016; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Register NOW!
Have you been to Central Park in Grayslake? Let us know how your visit went in the comments below.