South suburban focus
Summer swelter got you hot under the collar? Dive into south suburban outdoor water parks and feel like you’re on vacation without traveling far from home.
Top priority on my family’s "to do" list this summer is Splash Station in Joliet. My sons, ages 14, 11 and 9, like the various water slides. There are two body slides, two tube slides and my youngest son’s favorite—Miner’s Mountain, a 200-foot six-person racing slide.
My 4-year-old daughter likes the "playground" that stands like an island in the middle of a huge zero-depth pool. Of course, there are all sorts of sprayers. My husband likes floating along the lazy river with the kids. And as for me? I miss those trips to the beach, so one of my favorite areas is the big sand play area where me and the kids can build sandcastles.
You can bring food in, which is a plus when you have a family of six. You have to eat it in the picnic area and no glass bottles are allowed. Toddlers need a special swim diaper (disposable swim diapers don’t count). They sell them at the park fairly cheap and they are reusable.
Amy Bowden of Homer Glen says she loves Centennial Park Aquatic Center in Orland Park.
"It’s a great place for families," she says.
This water park has three large bodies of water. For the younger crowd, there is a zero-depth pool with two slides, a child play structure, sprayers, a tire swing and small water slide. For older kids, there is "T" pool featuring water 12-feet deep and a jump platform. There are also numerous water slides, including a drop slide and a velocity slide that are angled straight down. Riders plunge directly into the deep water, so kids have to be able to swim to ride this one.
"The slides are good, but not real intense," says Bowden. "There will be no thrill seeking for your teens ... but they are perfect if you have kids middle-school-aged and younger."
Bowden says an added feature is that Centennial Park Aquatic Center is in the middle of Centennial Park, which features picnic areas, walking paths, baseball and soccer fields and a large skate park.
"Not a lot of people know it is there," she says.
Julianne Stalker of Plainfield says she finds Pelican Harbor in Bolingbrook a refreshing break from the summer sun without having to forgo the fun.
"I love the indoor toddler area," Stalker says. "It is a zero-depth area that goes from zero to 3 feet and has structures with buckets that fill and dump water onto the kids. Best of all, it’s indoors so you don’t have to worry about sunscreen."
Outside, Pelican Harbor features four water slides, two tube slides, two drop slides, a tot slide, a diving well, a spray area, a lazy river and a second zero-depth area. For water slides, kids need to be 42 inches and know how to swim. Volleyballs and life jackets are available free with ID. If your child is still in diapers, then three layers are required here—swim diaper, plastic pants and swimsuit.
n Splash Station
2780 U.S. Route 6, Joliet
Cost: Over 48 inches: $12, $9 Joliet residents. Under 48 inches: $8, $5.50 residents. Free kids 3 and under.
n Centennial Park Aquatic Center
15600 West Ave., Orland Park
Cost: $12, $6 Orland Park residents. Free kids 3 and under.
n Pelican Harbor
200 S. Lindsey Lane, Bolingbrook
Cost: $12.50, $8 Bolingbrook Park District residents. Free kids 3 and under.
Jean Dunning covers the South and Southwest suburbs of Chicago for Chicago Parent. If you have story ideas or would like to be a part of the South/Southwest Parent Source e-mail list, e-mail email@example.com.