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 favorites— guaranteed to keep your little sponges occupied for hours.
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Like the playground, this West Ridge water feature is simple, but it provides endless hours of fun for little ones. The space is wide-open, fenced in, and dotted with dancing and spitting bears, not to mention spray misters, sure to keep the kids cool all summer. For a break from the water, check out the nature play area and adjacent wooden playground.
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.
This hidden gem is tucked away in a tree-lined 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 around with interactive features such as spray levers. Our personal favorite: ropes that, when tugged, dump water on anyone waiting below.
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.
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.
Head north of the city for a fun-filled day of water. The Skokie Park District has a superb water park full of spraygrounds, pools and waterslides. You'll also have access to lockers, concession stands and other amenities, making it easy to spend the day there.