The latest in the "Great Parks!" series is one especially for all the kids who love sand, and for the parents who love them.
Park Name: Lions Park in Elburn. Rather than being part of a local park district, the 25-acre Lions Park is owned and operated by the Elburn Lions Club. Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service organization.
Location: 500 South Filmore St. in Elburn, just one block west of Main Street (Route 47).
Amenities: Lions Park features two baseball diamonds, a number of picnic tables and benches. The playground is very large instead of being surrounded by mulch, there is sand underneath. The playground has extensive equipment for preschoolers and older children, as well as a small toddler playground. There is a set of swings (including two baby swings) and also two tire swings, as well as a very small merry-go-round (don't worry - we couldn't get it to go very fast.) It also features two "backhoes" that kids operate with their hands to scoop up and dump sand. There are indoor bathrooms in the Elburn Lions Club clubhouse, but they were closed when we visited on a recent weekday afternoon. Alternately, there were two portable toilets.
Good for: Children who love to play and dig in sand, and parents who don't mind. Also, for anyone looking for a sort of "old-school" playground experience. Lions Park also is the site each year of "Elburn Days," held on the third weekend in August. The park and its outdoor pavilion can be rented for company and family picnics, wedding receptions, class reunions, etc. Note: You could bring your own toys for digging in the sand, but I didn't see any water source nearby for making sand castles, moats, etc.
Our Experience: When we first arrived at Lions Park, I wasn't sure what to make of it. The playground equipment is in good shape, but it's certainly not new and shiny. (In fact, the tiny toddler playground set does have a bit of rust on it.) Unless I'm on a beach someplace warm and sunny, I'm not a big fan of sand, and so there was that to deal with, too.
But this park definitely grew on me, and it was a hit with my preschooler. She absolutely loved the tire swings, and she had a great time maneuvering the backhoe to dig up sand and then dump it. The main playground equipment is quite extensive -- there are bridges, ramps, slides and fireman's poles, of course, but also a number of more "gymnastic" elements, such as two side-by-side poles parallel to the ground. It also had one neat "log roller." It definitely gives off an "old-school" vibe -- there are no rock-climbing walls, but plenty of other fun options.
And because I hate playgrounds that have huge openings way up high, I was glad to find there was no drop-off more than about 4 feet off the ground (other than the slides, of course.)
The only drawback was that the park seemed a bit lonely. When we left, kids were arriving to play baseball games, but there was no one else on the playground. Perhaps as the weather gets warmer, more kids will be playing at this park.
Editor's Note: See more photos from Lions Park and previous spots in the "Great Parks!" series in the Go West Flickr album. Do you have a park that should be profiled for the "Great Parks!" series? Please let us know about it by commenting below or writing editor(at)gowestyoungmom.com.