Not far from some of the biggest “playgrounds” in Lake County, like Gurnee Mills, and Six Flags is O’Plaine Community Park. Located at Russell Rd. and O’Plaine Rd., this Gurnee Park District property features basketball courts, baseball fields, trails, bathrooms, a picnic shelter, a tot lot, and a very cool playground.
We headed out to the park early one morning to beat the heat and to kill some time before the mall opened. I wanted to hit up the Stride Rite closing sale, and I found myself asking the same annoying question that always comes up on the rare occasion that I go to the mall: why the heck doesn’t the mall open earlier!?! But I digress… The park is conveniently located outside of the chaos and congestion of Route 132 and the area surrounding the mall, but near enough to make it an accessible stop if you’re visiting from outside the Gurnee community. As with most playgrounds, there was ample parking available near the play area, and little shade. Some benches and picnic tables were shaded, but not the play structures. There are also REAL bathrooms! (Gurnee Park District, I say thank you on behalf of the mothers of Lake County.)
The tot structure is typical of toddler parks in our area. The ground cover is a combination of rubber mats, wood chips, and sand, and there are 2 bucket swings. What’s really nice about this part of the park is that it’s far enough away from the main play area that most of the big kids stay off the tot equipment, but close enough that a parent can hang with little ones here, and keep an eye on big kids elsewhere in the park.
The main play area is the star of the show here. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this “style” of playground equipment. It is all about climbing, and my kids loved it. There are the standards: 3 slides, monkey bars, and 4 regular swings. But the ropes, rock walls, overall design and aesthetic set this park apart from the others I’ve visited. My 3 and 5-year-old both loved this park, but they required supervision and some “hand holding” to navigate. Although any age kids could enjoy it, I’d say that is for (brave & agile) 5-year-olds and up.
O’Plaine Community Park, Russell Rd. and O’Plaine Rd., Gurnee
Amenities: Toddler play structure with bucket swings and 2 slides. Large play structure with 3 slides, unique climbing features, and monkey bars. Free standing climbing structure, spinning seats, and 4 regular swings. Restrooms, picnic tables, grills, benches, trail system, basketball courts and additional sporting fields on the property.
Shade: None on the play area, but picnic tables in the shelter are, and some benches are shaded.
Groundcover: Wood chips, rubber, and sand.
Good for: Everyone!