The top 6 playgrounds for water features

These spray parks and playgrounds with water features offer splash pads and more fun ways to get wet

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Photograph: City of Chicago
63rd St Fountain
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Photograph: City of Chicago
63rd St Fountain
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Photograph: City of Chicago
63rd St Fountain
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Photograph: City of Chicago
Cole park
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Photograph: City of Chicago
Cole park
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Photograph: City of Chicago
Mary Barteleme Park
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Photograph: City of Chicago
Mary Barteleme Park
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Ty Warner Spray Park
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Ty Warner Spray Park
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Ty Warner Spray Park

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Portage Park water playground
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Pulaski Park

If only Chicago backyards were big enough for sprinklers. But who needs to soak their (nonexistent) lawns when so many of the playgrounds and parks across town have awesome water features for the little ones to test out? We've picked our seven favorites guaranteed to keep your little sponges occupied for hours.

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Ty Warner Park

The community pool might seem a little dull after visiting this West Suburban sprayground. While the rubber-surfaced splash pad’s zero-depth pool makes it friendly to tots, there’s plenty here to keep the big kids frolicking, too: They can use rotating water cannons to blast frenemy forces, run through a tunnel of spray rings, or just cool off under towering mushroom showers. But one of the most popular features is the dump buckets: The hanging tubs take about a minute-and-a-half to fill up, while kids eagerly huddle below in anticipation of the inevitable water dump. Chaise lounges, a nearby concession stand and two on-duty park staffers help parents relax. 

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West Suburbs

Adams Playground Park

This hidden gem is tucked away in a treelined residential nook of Lincoln Park made even more obscure by a series of one-way and angled streets. The gated back end of the park beckons with a soft-surface, zero-depth pool with a water-spouting playground as its centerpiece. Here, kids can climb up; slide down; cool off under the spray beams, spouts and sprinklers; or toy with interactive features such as spray levers. Our personal favorite: ropes that, when tugged, dump water on anyone waiting below. 

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Lincoln Park

63rd Street Beach

There are so many things to love about this South Side beach at Jackson Park, from the gorgeous Classical Revival–style 1919 bathing pavilion to the many food options for an afternoon snack. But behind the beach house, a handsome water pad made up of concentric circles of water spouts draws dozens of jumping, hopping, splashing little ones. The alternating spouts keep kids entertained for hours during beach closings—which, sadly, happen with some regularity here.

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South Side

Pulaski Park

Tucked away in West Town, this splash park rivals the fun that goes on in the neighboring pool. A play structure serves as an island in a zero-depth pool and is full of water features like nozzles that alter the strength and spray of the water that spews out, a small staircase and deck, and a super-fast slide.

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Wicker Park

Mary Bartelme Park

Critics' pick

The tidy green space in the West Loop is the crown jewel of ecofriendly innovation with native plants, seating made of terra cotta repurposed from the infirmary that once stood on site, and—no joke—pavers made of a special cement that actually chomps pollutants. Impressive, but the main attraction when the mercury climbs is the stunning, stainless-steel sculptural squares that form a misting archway to walk through. It’s equal parts rejuvenating refreshment and beautiful work of art. 

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West Loop

Portage Park

This interactive water play feature is plopped in the middle of a zero-depth pool and has water sprayers everywhere. Kids can play together on the multiple structures or just wade in the surrounding pool.

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Portage Park

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