Load up the kids for an El playground adventure!
Lois Klein Playground: 3550 N. Lincoln at Addison and Ravenswood
El Stop: Brown Line, Addison
Playground Details: Small, bustling playground in a busy area, yet the structures feel removed from the street and train tracks. Enjoy some morning playtime then head to Roscoe Village for lunch. There is a toddler climbing structure, with some more advanced structures for the older set.
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Jonquil Playground: 1023 W Wrightwood Ave. at Sheffield and Lincoln
El Stop: Between the Fullerton and Diversey, Brown Line
Playground Details: This playground is quiet, except when the El rumbles past one block away, and it is tucked in the back corner of a larger park that includes baseball fields and tennis courts. It is a busy playground close to many food options, and just a block away from another wonderful playground, Supera. There are areas within and outside of the fenced playground for a lovely picnic and a water sprayer for the hot, summer months. Check out the challenging modern climbing structures for older kids.
Sheil Playground: 3505 N. Southport Ave., just south of Addison
El Stop: Southport, Brown Line
Playground Details: This playground offers modern climbing equipment with a Baseball theme throughout, complete with a huge baseball "scoreboard" chalkboard on the brick wall to the north. Bring chalk and keep score as you slide and play. Make a day of shopping, eating and playing, all without leaving Southport. Another playground, Juniper, which has a water sprayer, is 5 blocks away for shaded, cooler playtime. Note there are no swings at this playground, but the baseball theme offers up some good imaginative playtime.
Clybourn Playground: 1755 N. Clybourn Ave. at Sheffield and Willow
El Stop: North & Clybourn, Red Line, or Armitage, Brown Line
Playground Details: This feels like a city park: noisy and in the middle of a lot going on! The climbing structures are great fun. Perch on a swing or slide and watch the Brown Line el trains rumble past almost literally on top of the play area. Enjoy yummy food options close by and located in any direction.
[Related: Best Chicago playgrounds for the potty-training toddler]
Playground #540: 74 W. 24th Street just west of State Street and south of Cermak
El Stop: Cermak-Chinatown, Red Line
Playground Details: This playground and park feel wide open in an underdeveloped area, yet have the feel of an open prairie sandwiched between El lines. Best on a cooler day as there is no shade, #540 has great play details and a toddler structure. A large field and path around the perimeter of the park make for a great place to bike or scooter ride.
Lane Beach, Berger and Loyola Playgrounds
Lane Beach Playground: 5915 N. Sheridan Rd.
Berger: 6205 N. Sheridan Rd.
Loyola: 7023 N. Sheridan Rd. at the end of Greenleaf
El Stops: Thorndale, Red Line (Lane); Granville, Red Line (Berger); Morse, Red Line (Loyola)
Playground Details: Visit these beachside playgrounds for days of fun and sun. All three have a different vibe and all three are easily accessible via the Red Line. Lane Beach has new structures right next to a large, clean beach. Berger Feels like a vacation spot secluded from the city. Not only can you see the downtown skyline from the edge of the playground, there is also a cafe with public restrooms, all overlooking Lake Michigan (note there is no beach access here.) Loyola is truly a beach playground with sand beneath the structures and adjacent to a large beach. Restrooms, food and drink on site!
Ravenswood Manor Playground: 4626 N. Manor Ave. just west of the Chicago River
El Stop: Francisco, Brown Line
Playground Details: This playground within a beautiful park gives it a forest-like, peaceful setting. Trails run throughout the park and playground, so bring scooters and bikes. The two large separate structures offer many options to keep climbers busy! Picnic tables, benches and a nice grassy park area are all great options for snack time or lunchtime. Check out the beautiful red pergola.