25 Amazing Water Playgrounds and Spraygrounds for Chicago Kids
When warm weather comes, smart Chicago parents make sure they've always got a sprinkler "go bag" packed and ready in the trunk, stroller, or tote: towel, sunscreen, water shoes, swim diaper (if you've got a really little mermaid), and spare clothes. Because in a city with this many awesome water playgrounds, splash parks, and spraygrounds, it pays to be prepared.
We've rounded up our favorite spots with interactive sprinklers, sprayers, cannons, and gushers so everybody can get good and soaked. If you need more places to get wet in Chicago, be sure to check out our list of the very best beaches for families and our favorite indoor pools, too.
Most suburban facilities are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day; if a water playground has a different opening date, we've noted it below. We have also noted if a park requires reservations this summer. Many facilities are requesting that visitors still wear masks when not playing in the water, so remember to bring yours along.
North Side Splash Parks and Spraygrounds
Adams Park Water Playground — Lincoln Park
The new splash pad at Adams Park features sprinklers and sprayers for kids of all ages and heights, including a real gusher of a funnel that gets kids good and soaked. When kids tire of the spray, dry off on the nearby playground (or in the field house), and stick around for concerts and movie nights for families.
Portage Park Water Playground — Portage Park
Portage Park is home to a huge public pool as well as a smaller heated pool for those slightly chillier summer days Chicagoans know so well. But the most fun under the sun is at the interactive water play area with slides, sprinklers, and spray.
River Park Water Playground – Lincoln Square
A squishy, soft-surfaced splash pad with spray towers, sprinklers, and water jets, this water playground is also located right next to a public pool in shady, pretty River Park.
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Misters keep it cool at Mary Bartelme Park. Photo courtesy of Landscape Performance Series
West and South Side Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads
Mary Bartelme Park — West Loop
Probably one of the most Instagrammed new features in Chicago, the Fountain Plaza at this compact urban oasis is the place to be on a hot day. Angular archway sculptures spray a fine mist for dashing through at top speed (or lingering under for maximum cooldown). Dry off at the innovative multi-level playground next door.
Austin Park Water Playground — Austin
The giant, blue, multilevel water playground here is new as of 2016, with slides, tunnels, sprinklers, sprayers, gushers...the works. There's not much shade, but there are restrooms, and the area is fenced in with a soft, squishy surface for hours of safe play.
31st Street Harbor Playground Splash Pad — Oakland
The colorful lakeshore park houses a sweet, natural-pool-inspired splash pad within sight of its awesome, retro-space-age playground. Grownups can watch from sun-warmed rocks while little kids play in the gentle geysers and fountains.
Dunbar Park Splash Pad — Douglas
A circular spray park located right near the shady, recently-renovated playground has gentle in-ground sprinklers plus overhead fountains and sprayers for getting wet. Kids love dashing back and forth between the sprayers and the climbing structures, so bring sturdy water shoes.
Fosco Park Water Playground — University Village
The popular community center here is probably best known for its indoor pool, but the outdoor splash park is a true multi-level water playground, with splashers, soakers, and a slide.
The Hub Spray Ground at Berens Park is great for toddlers. Photo courtesy of the Elmhurst Park District
West Suburban Spraygrounds and Splash Pads
The Hub Spray Ground at Berens Park — Elmhurst
Admission: $8 (residents $6); children under 3 are free
Part of a bustling community park that also features mini golf and batting cages, the generously sized, fenced sprayground has two soft-surfaced splash pads and a good amount of shade. Kids here love drenching each other with the "Big Squirt" water soakers available for purchase at the entrance. In 2021, sprayground guests must register in advance for a two-hour time slot.
Ty Warner Spray Park — Westmont
Admission: $5 children ($3 residents); adults are free
A recently replaced soft rubberized surface makes this beloved Dr. Seussian splash pad even more fun. Cannons, misters, dumping buckets, and a giant blue whale tail with sprinklers are among the wet-getters on offer. There's a sweet train-themed sand play area and some fun, twisty water slides too. The Westmont Park District is imposing a two-hour limit and capping attendance at 50 people in order to maintain social distancing in 2021.
Play in the pool with friends at Splash Island. Photo courtesy of the Oak Brook Park District
Splash Island — Oak Brook
Admission: $10 for Oak Brook residents; $12 for non-resident
Sunburn-conscious parents will appreciate the shaded water play and seating areas at Splash Island, which has slides, buckets, jets, and sprinklers aplenty, plus a cute aquatic-animal-themed splash pad just for younger kids. Families must make a reservation for a 90-minute time slot in 2021. No more than 25 people will be admitted to the splash pad at one time.
Maryknoll Park Splash Park — Glen Ellyn
Admission: $3 children ages 1-14; adults $1
There's a bit of a Wild West theme to the wet-and-wild water play here with a water tower, cactus sprinkler, a saloon sign that doubles as a sprinkler, and a railroad gate. Just outside the Splash Park is an adventure playground with a zip line and climbing boulders.
Andersen Park — Oak Park
In this park, named for children's author Hans Christian Andersen, kids can enjoy a bell-shaped spray feature, directional jets, and ground geysers. The spray park and a playground were added in 2006. This park stays open through the end of September.
Bensenville Water Park Splash Pad — Bensenville
Admission: $10 per person per time slot
This 2,527-square-foot splash pad was completed in 2013 and is known for being clean. Guests are encouraged to register in advance for a two-hour time slot. A maximum of 30 people will be allowed at the splash pad at any time to maintain social distancing.
Get soaked at Adventure Island's interactive water playground. Photo courtesy of the Bloomingdale Park District
Adventure Island Sprayground at the Oasis — Bloomingdale
Admission: $5 for Bloomingdale residents, $8 for non-residents
The rest of the Oasis water park reopens for summer 2021, and kids can enjoy the water guns, slide, pipe falls, spinning tray, and theme elements at Adventure Island. Families must register for a time slot in advance. The pool, water slides, and lazy river are also included in the admission price.
95th Street Community Plaza Splash Pad — Naperville
This recently completed splash pad and adjacent playground are right next to the 95th Street Library. The storybook-themed equipment ranges in height and is appropriate for children of many different age groups. No more than 50 people will be allowed on the sprayground at any given time.
Harvard Early Learning Playscape at Naper Settlement — Naperville
Admission: Free with Naper Settlement admission
This historically themed water playground has a water cannon, ground misters and water trough for a break from the old-timey learning at Naper Settlement. Kids can also play on the Conestoga wagon or learn in the sensory garden nearby. This park is open early in the year (April 1) and stays open through October 31, for any warm last fall days.
Step into the mouth of the giant pink frog at Forest Park Aquatic Center. Photo courtesy of the Park District of Forest Park
Forest Park Aquatic Center — Forest Park
Admission: $5.50 per resident; $8.50 per non-resident; children under 3 are free; cash only
A huge zero-depth 367,000-gallon pool at this water park holds an interactive water playground, with four water slides and a sprayground. There's also a nearby lap pool with a diving board, plus a sand play area for kids. Lockers and a concession stand are available, too.
Paradise Bay Water Park — Lombard
Admission: Rates TBA for 2021
For a full day of water play, this water park offers a zero-entry pool with jets, sprayers, and even a whirlpool, plus multiple waterslides for every level of bravery, and a separate water playground for little ones. Lockers, changing rooms, and a snack bar are all on-site. This water park opens for the summer on June 12.
Sea Lion Aquatic Park — Lisle
Admission: $11 for non-residents, $7 for residents
This giant destination waterpark has separate water play zones for both little ones and bigger kids, plus four giant water slides, a vortex pool, a large ADA accessible pool, and a lily pad feature. Changing rooms, lockers, and a full-service snack bar make it easy to stay the day. The aquatic park is open June 5 through August 15 for the summer of 2021.
Stand beneath the big red bucket and get drenched! Photo courtesy of the Skokie Park District
North Suburban Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads
Skokie Water Playground — Skokie
Admission: $8 for Skokie residents; $10 for Evanston residents; $15 for non-residents
With a huge zero-entry pool, three big water slides, and a multi-level water playground with sprayers, water guns, tubs, slides, and a giant splash bucket, plus an accessible "sprayground" with a rock-like waterfall and sprinklers galore, there's no excuse not to get soaked here. You'll also find a concession stand, changing rooms with showers, and lockers, but not a whole lot of shade. The water playground opens for the summer on June 7, 2021.
Spray 'N Play at Mike Rylko Community Park — Buffalo Grove
Admission: $4 for children and adults; $2 for seniors; $2 for twilight hour (5:30pm-7pm)
Reserve a 90-minute playtime at this northwest suburban water play area. Spray N' Play features 20 water features and a picnic area. The spray ground is entirely fenced in so parents can relax while kids play. The Park District will allow a limited number of guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. The park opens for the summer on June 2, 2021.
Lange Park — Rosemont
Admission: Free for Rosemont residents, $5 for Des Plaines residents, $15 for non-residents
Rosemont residents, as well as other families in the O'Hare area, can enjoy this sprayground with a variety of water jet features. Guests must obtain a wristband at the Lange Park building and show ID to receive resident rates.
Fountain Square Park — Elk Grove Village
This simple sprayground features ground jets that shoot at varying intervals to surprise kids in the park. The park also includes a playground and nature trail so kids can beat the heat and enjoy a few forms of entertainment. The park will open on June 1 for the summer of 2021.
The Best South Suburban Splash Pad
Oak Lawn Memorial Park — Oak Lawn
This rocket-themed water play area features a variety of spray toys along with a playground. The park also offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and fishing.
A version of this article was first published in 2019