When you want to play outside with your children, you have dozens of parks to choose from around the Champaign-Urbana area
Take a quick drive through any portion of Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, Mahomet and many other towns nearby and you will see green space and playground equipment every few minutes. We are fortunate to have so many parks and playgrounds to choose from when we want to head outside with our children to move our bodies, get fresh air and have some fun.
According to a 2018 clinical report shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children need to develop a variety of skill sets to optimize their development and manage toxic stress.” Play helps regulate the body’s stress response. Outdoor play, specifically, gives the opportunity to improve sensory integration skills, and physical play (like you find on a playground) promotes an active lifestyle and many opportunities to hone social skills while playing among other children.
Editor’s note: During COVID-19, some trails, facilities, or entire parks may be closed. Be aware of any safety protocols or group size limitations currently in effect for the area you will be visiting. And remember to pack your masks! For more info about area parks without playgrounds, head here. For information about parks with mess-free playgrounds, click here.
Thanks to Carle for presenting this information. As the region’s trusted healthcare provider, serving and improving the health of the community members is central to everything they do. To find out more, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
Below we break down many of our favorite parks by town. Click on the name of the park to jump to the information about that facility. We also include outdoor playspaces and generally great places to spend time together outside as a family.
Jump to playgrounds in:
1006 N. Walnut St.
A neighborhood park first established in 1874, Beardsley Park boasts some neat features like a suspended rubber platform, small climbing wall, teeter totter and more. The play equipment is geared toward younger kids but early elementary kids may find it enjoyable as well.
902 Glen Abbey Dr.
This new neighborhood park offers the opportunity for people to practice team sports like basketball and soccer. There is one medium-sized play structure geared towards kids of all ages instead of two separate structures (younger/older). Bring anything with wheels as your kids can scoot or race around the path on your visit.
512 E. Grove St.
As if a splash pad, basketball courts and a huge playground wasn’t enough, Douglass Park features Champaign’s only “fitness trail.” This walking path is lined with pods of outdoor fitness equipment, like a cardio stepper, mobility station and stretching area, to name a few.
1301 W. Church St.
This all-inclusive playground is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, has sensory-stations throughout and features tennis courts, basketball hoops and a batting cage.
400 N. Mattis Ave.
With a trio of slides, a climbing wall, a drum to bang and lots of other appealing elementary-age equipment, Glenn Park is well worth the visit to this neighborhood park.
3802 Freedom Blvd.
Newly opened in 2019, this playground has lots of fun, interactive features especially geared towards younger park patrons. The interconnected shapes and suspended seats give a unique twist to typical playground equipment. Being on the edge of town, this park is usually less busy than others.
1400 Grandview Dr.
Hessel Park offers expansive playground equipment for the youngest of park-goers to older children, tweens and teens. You’ll find the famous parent/baby swings here, in addition to a splash pad (summer months only), a lengthy walking path and ample green space.
1209 Harrington Dr.
Brand new playground pieces, an enlarged sand box and a modern merry go-round (just be careful on it!) make Morrissey the fun park destination that it is. Pack a picnic, too!
1134 Sterling Dr., Champaign
This Champaign Park District neighborhood park got a renovation in 2019. Featuring interconnected pathways, new playground equipment and some very unique pieces of playground equipment, this definitely qualifies for “hidden gem” in Champaign.
2310 S. Rising Road
This huge park is bordered by open fields, making it seem even larger than it is when you visit. The park features paved paths and an accessible playground, in addition to tree stumps bordering the park your kids can play on.
3907 Boulder Ridge Dr.
Overlooking miles of farmland, Sunset Ridge Park offers lots of unique fun, like tennis courts, a skate park, extra-wide walking paths and the eye-catching play structure of which your kids will become enamored.
910 Cobblefield Road
The main structure at this playground is designed for kids ages 5-12, with preschoolers typically navigating it safely, too. Settled among wood mulch, these play structures are going to provide some fun for your family.
400 W. University Ave.
Footsteps from Downtown Champaign, West Side Park is a beautiful property with rich history and lots of fun. The gated playground is popular for parents of young children (and mulch-free, too). You’ll find a larger play structure for older kids as well. Catch annual events, like the Taste of C-U, at West Side each year.
2502 S. Staley Road
Relatively small in terms of equipment, there’s a lot of space to spread out at Zahnd Park. If your kids play organized sports, you may find yourself here for practices or games but any time is a good time to visit the park. Bonus: There are indoor bathrooms here (hours they are open may very seasonally).
More Parks with Playgrounds in Champaign
- Bristol Park, 1300 N. Market St. *temporarily closed; under construction*
- Clark Park, 900 S. McKinley Ave.
- Davidson Park, 1108 W. Church St.
- Garden Hills Park, 1701 Bloomington Road
- Hazel Park, 1209 N. Neil St.
- Helms Park, 475 S. Second St.
- Johnston Park, 701 Goldenview Dr.
- Millage Park, 2802 Cherry Creek Road
- Mullikin Park, 2110 Mullikin Dr.
- Powell Park, 3212 Clayton Road
- Robeson Meadows West Park, 2865 S. Duncan Road
- Robeson Park, 1984 S. Duncan Road
- Scott Park, 207 E. Springfield Ave.
- Spalding Park, 900 Harris Ave.
- Toalson Park, 502 Bardeen Lane
- Wesley Park, 915 N. Third St.
1776 E. Washington St.
This highly accessible playground just off University Avenue in Urbana is full of structures children can walk (or roll) right up to experience. Families who have someone with a disability will especially appreciate a lot of the thoughtful features found at this park.
1505 N. Broadway Ave.
More “nature” than playground, Busey Woods is a great place to get outside that we can’t overlook. These are some of the safest trails you’ll find in the area to navigate with wheelchairs, mobility aids or strollers. Enjoy the woods from the elevated boardwalk walking trail or let your kids venture “off road” and explore.
400 W. Indiana Ave.
This historical Urbana park is a “best kept secret” and one of our favorite places to see the fall leaves. The playground is geared toward older children; younger children will just need to be more closely supervised here as there’s still plenty for them to do.
206 W. Park St.
Crystal Lake Park is a lot more then a playground. Fishing, sledding, nature walks and more await at the huge park in Urbana. Look for sand volleyball courts and tons of benches and picnic areas throughout the park itself.
1505 N. Broadway Ave.
“Get dirty” and “touch it all” are two of the guidelines when playing at Friendship Grove, outside the Anita Purves Nature Center in Urbana. Urbana’s own playscape is made of natural materials to engage children of all ages in creative, free play.
2808 S. Race St.
Meadowbrook Park has probably caught your eye when you’ve driven past it on Windsor Road in Urbana. The classic wooden play structure is a favorite among area children. There’s also miles of paved walking trails, a wide-open field for kite flying and picnics and beautiful sculptures lining the trails.
503 Sunnycrest Court, E
Have a toddler? Great! Sunnycrest Tot Lot is a great fit for them. With infant-only swings, ride-on animals and a generally quiet zone to play, we think you’ll find this neighborhood playground to be some fun times for your young child.
More Parks with Playgrounds in Urbana
- Blair Park, 1406 S. Broadway Ave.
- Crestview Park, 1802 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
- King Park, 915 W. Wascher Dr.
- Larson Park, 1005 E. McHenry
- South Ridge Park, 3008 S. Myra Ridge Dr.
- Victory Park, 1000 E. Green St.
203 E. Church St.
In addition to being one of our favorite playgrounds in the area, Colbert Park features Champaign-Urbana’s first “Born Learning Trail,” with signs like “Go run up the hill, like Jack and Jill.” It’s a beautiful, expansive park with picnic tables and a natural, thoughtful aesthetic.
200 Prairie Rose Lane
Sports fields surround this playground that features a rock climbing wall, two age-appropriate play structures and a tic-tac-toe game, to name a few.
More Parks with Playgrounds in Savoy
- John L. Jones Park, 310 W. Church St.
Our six favorite parks in Mahomet are Lake of the Woods, Bridle Leash Park, Brent Johnson Park, Water Tower Park, 13 Acres Park and the Riverbend Forest Preserve. We share a little on each park in the post below.
109 S. Lake of the Woods Road
Owned and operated by the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, the playground (off the entrance on Lake of the Woods Road), botanical gardens (off the entrance on Route 47), fishing spots, sledding hills, miles of paved walking/biking paths and tons of green space are the top features. Lake of the Woods is a popular Champaign-Urbana “nature escape” for all these reasons and more.
More Parks with Playgrounds in Mahomet
- 13 Acres Park, 302 W. Dunbar St.
- Brent Johnson Park, 1202 E. Oak Valley Road
- Bridle Leash Park, 906 W. Dianne Lane
- Brooks Warfel Park, 405 E. Dunbar
Visiting Parks in Communities Beyond Champaign-Urbana
There are lots of great parks just a short drive from Champaign-Urbana. Here’s a round-up of some you might want to visit next time you go for a drive.
- Lodge Park, 10 Foxhill Ct., Monticello
- Nick’s Park, 209 N. Hamilton, Monticello
- Tolono West Side Park, 408 W. Holden St., Tolono
- Prairieland Pride Playground, Northline Road and Main Street, Tuscola
Other Outdoor Recreation Areas
You can camp, you can fish, you can hike, you can boat or you can just soak up the sunshine at this state recreation area. Clinton Lake also boasts one of the only “beaches” in Central Illinois.
This Champaign County Forest Preserve District location features miles of easy-to-navigate hiking trails, opportunities to fish, kayak and canoe around the lake and the famous nature playscape.
Located in LeRoy, this quiet oasis is popular for canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. You can even rent them here if you want to try it out. There’s also camping, fishing, hiking and the usual outdoor activities to be enjoyed.
Known as a camping destination, Kickapoo State Park makes a great short drive from Champaign-Urbana. Families can hike, fish, boat and have a picnic in the great outdoors just 30 minutes from C-U.
More on all your favorite outdoor activities:
- Fishing Fun for Families in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Visiting Champaign-Urbana Area Parks and Playgrounds with your Family
- Walk Your Way Through Champaign-Urbana
- Avoid the Mud and Muck with Mulch-Free Playgrounds in Champaign-Urbana
- Hiking Trails For Families in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Gardens and Flower Farms in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Great Places for a Picnic in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Family-Friendly Bike Trails in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Where to Go Boating with your Family in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Creek Stomping Your Way Around Champaign-Urbana
- Camping with Your Family Near Champaign-Urbana
- Parks Minus Playgrounds We Love Around Champaign-Urbana
- 6 Places to Experience Nature with Kids Near Champaign-Urbana
Top spots for outdoor recreation near Champaign-Urbana:
- Meet Me Halfway: Kankakee River State Park
- Hidden Treasure in Central Illinois: Weldon Springs State Park
- The Perfect Family Hike: Explore the Sangamon River Forest Preserve near Fisher
- Getaway for a Day: Matthiessen State Park
- Best Kept Secret: Forest Glen Preserve
- Hiking the Sangamon River Corridor Reserve in Monticello with your Family
- What to Do at Kickapoo State Recreation Area
- What To Do At Turkey Run State Park With Your Family
- Everything You Need To Know about Visiting Homer Lake Forest Preserve with Your Family
- What To Do At Moraine View State Recreation Area With Your Family
- Visiting Lake of the Woods in Mahomet with Children
- What To Do At Clinton Lake With Your Family
- 8 Reasons You’ll Love Visiting Allerton Park with Your Family
- At Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, Darkness is the Star
- Parent’s Guide to Busey Woods in Urbana
- River Bend Forest Preserve in Mahomet a Great Escape