Made in the Shade: Mostly Shaded Playgrounds in Lake County

When the sun comes out in Lake County, boy does it come out. There have been times that I have arrived at a park only to find out that all of the equipment is practically hot enough to cook food on. When I walk around the park and feel all of the slides and swings, I tell my son “You can only use the tube slide–the other ones are too hot.” His face then falls and he tries to be a good sport about it. However, he always loses interest after about five minutes of playing on just the suspension bridge and back into the car we go.

Driving home,  I thought, there have to be parks in Lake County where the sand and the slides are always cold. There has to be a park where I don’t have to chase my son around with a bottle of SPF 50.  I decided to do some research. I found that there are MANY parks in Lake County that you can go to on a day that is sunny and 80 degrees and use all of the equipment without ending up with third degree burns.

Shaded Playgrounds in Lake CountyI have rounded up a list of parks in the area with both natural shade, as well as parks with canopies. Both will protect your little one in some way from Mr. Golden Sun.

Shaded Playgrounds Lake County

Natural Shade 

Bowen Park, Waukegan
© L. Thomas | Little Lake | 2014

Bowen Park
1800 North Sheridan Road, Waukegan

Bowen Park is one of those parks you can spend the whole day at and still not be sick of it.  Featured in our Jaw-Dropping playground list and our 2015 Playground tour, this is one park we can all agree that we love. With its free splash pad, outlook tower with 4o-foot tube slides, spider climber, dish swings, and toddler play area– this is THE perfect shady park for kids of all ages.

Most of the park is shaded by mature trees, yet there are a few places that have more sun if you need some sun to warm you up.

Bowen Park, Waukegan
© L. Thomas | Little Lake | 2014

Central Park – West Side
400 North Lake Street, Grayslake (across from Grayslake Central High School)

Located just a skip and a hop down a short path from Central Park (the spray park) in Grayslake is this gem of a shady park.  Most of the playground structures are shaded by mature trees . On a hot day, your kids can try out the globe spinner, and the zig zag beams, as well as the playground structures without burning their legs on hot equipment.

Century Park 
North of Route 60, between Butterfield Road and Lakeview Parkway, in Vernon Hills

Featured in our 2014 Playground Tour, this park might be familiar to you. This is my go-to shady park on hot days.  Surrounded by tons of  mature trees, the slides are almost guaranteed to be cool no matter what the temperature.  With its two play structures, walking trail, climbing web, zip line, and swings, this shady park will surely be one of your favorites, too.


Charles Brown Park
1015 Dawes Street, Libertyville

I took my son to this log cabin-styled park on an day that was 82 degrees and sunny (my bad!) . My son exclaimed, “Mommy this park is both hot AND cold!”  Which is true. Half of the ADA accessible park is shaded by mature trees while the other half is in direct sunlight. My son was able to go down three of the slides, while the others in the sunlight were much too hot. Our favorite parts of this park are the completely shaded benches and picnic tables as well as the large sandbox.  This would make an excellent park to bring a lunch and sand toys to on a sunny day.

Cook Park Playground, Libertyville
© T. Rubel | Little Lake | 2016

Cook Park Playground
Southwest Corner of Cook Memorial Park, Downtown, Libertyville

Located in the heart of downtown Libertyville, right behind Cook Memorial Library, is one of my favorite parks. Cook Park is just the right size to be able to keep an eye on multiple kids. With its medium sized play structure, swings, and sandbox, your kids will not be bored.  This castle themed park is a must do for after Libertyville Days, the Farmers Market, or after a morning out at the library.  Most of the park is shaded, yet the swings, sandbox, and one slide are not. We have never had any issues with it being too sunny.

Hart's Woods, Round Lake
© R. Bridges | Little Lake | 2015

Hart’s Woods
Robert W. Rolek Community Center, 814 Hart Road, Round Lake

Hart’s Woods Park is our writer Rosemary’s favorite park. She loves that you can see real trains from the park, the variety of play structures to play on, and that the entire park is completely fenced-in. This park is a definite go-to park for moms of multiple children. Most of the park is shaded by mature trees, however the swings and jungle gym have pretty much full sun overhead.

Jewett Park, Deerfield
© M. Collier | Little Lake | 2015

Jewett Park
836 Jewett Park Drive, Deerfield

Jewett Park is just one of those great parks that you have to see to believe .  With its skate park, tot area, preschool structures, climbing web, and the biggest, twistiest slides you will ever see, this park will entertain kids of all ages for hours.  Most of the park is in the sun, yet there are several areas with complete or moderate shade if your kids need to cool down a little or the slide are too hot.

Does Jewett Park look familiar to you? It has made our lists for Best Parks for Toddlers, Top 5 Parks in Lake CountyOur Ultimate Guide for Train Lovers, and our 2015 Playground Tour.

Lakewood Forest Preserve, Wauconda
© J. Reedy | Little Lake | 2015

Lakewood Forest Preserve Playground
27277 N. Forest Preserve Rd., Wauconda

Most people know Lakewood Park because of the location of the  Lake County Discovery Museum, however, nestled in this forest preserve is also a really nice park. Voted by readers in our Best Playgrounds for a Picnic Playdate, this park has something to offer for everyone. Little ones and parents will love that the parking lot is located right by the park, as well as all of the shade that the trees around it provide. Unique to this park is the bat house. Once a former picnic shelter, it now serves as a nursery roost for a colony of little brown bats which emerge at dusk. If you want a chance to spy them, go to this park after dinner and watch them all come out!

Sunset Woods Park, Highland Park
© J. Johnson | Little Lake | 2015

Sunset Woods Park 
801 Sunset Rd., Highland Park (between Central Avenue and Park Avenue West)

I grew up in Highland Park when I was a youngster, and this was my main park back in the 1990’s.  It is one of those parks you have to truly go to to see how massive it is. Featured in our list of Top 5 best playgrounds in Lake County this is truly a gem. With its multiple play structures with unique slides,  pirate themed area, and picnic shelters, I promise you will fall in love with it too. It is one of those parks your kids will want to spend hours at or even have a birthday party at.

The whole park is shaded with enormous trees that offer tons of shade. I always come here on the Fourth of July after the Highland Park parade, as there is a festival there and none of the equipment is ever too hot to play on.

© L. Thomas | | 2015

Editor’s Addition: Adler Park
1500 N. Milwaukee Ave. (located behind Adler Pool)

According to Loralie,

Adler Park’s playground enjoys abundant shade and is surrounded by mature trees making it an oasis during the sweltering summer months.

Check out our full playground profile of Adler Park and why Loralie thinks it’s especially good for toddlers.

Parks with Canopies

Heron Creek, Lake Zurich
© M. Collier | Little Lake | 2015

Heron Creek Playground
22890 N. Old McHenry Road., Lake Zurich

While the park itself offers little to no shade from trees, the Lake County Forest Preserves improvised and built canopies overhead.   You cannot go wrong visiting this park,  with its large sandbox, roller slide, and climbing wall, this is a park your whole family will love.

Husky Park, Wheeling
Photo Source: Wheeling Park District Website.

Husky Park 
1100 Lee Street, Wheeling

This park featured in our list of Mud-Free Playgrounds is one of the newest parks  in the Lake County area. The park is all under a shelter which will keep out sun as well as keep some of it dry from rain. The ground is covered with a soft, safe surface. The park features many slides, climbers, and swings, making it a great choice for kids of all ages.

Jones Island Park, Grayslake
© L. Thomas | Little Lake | 2015

Jones Island Park
243 Harvey Ave., Grayslake (Parking is located across the street from the park off of Alleghany Road.)

With it’s FREE public beach and a brand spanking new playground, this should be on every parent’s summer bucket list.  Both kids and parents will love the bright colorful canopies overhead as well as the beach for when the kids need to cool down from playing. Featured in our list of Best Places to have a Picnic Playdate,you definitely will want to spend hours here. 


Warren Township Park
17801 W. Washington St., Gurnee  (on corner of Washington Street and Almond Road)

This is agreeably one of everyone’s favorite playgrounds in Lake County. Winning our awards of the Top 5 Best Playgrounds in Lake County and Toddler Friendly Playgrounds, this is truly one of the best parks I have ever seen.  We spend at least four hours here every time we go.  This park features two massive play structures, a pirate slide, a rock climbing wall, an electronic game board, and the biggest sandbox I have ever seen in my life.

Most of the park is shaded with trees as well as canopies over the structures to keep it cool and dry from rain. Almost everywhere, I feel completely cool and comfortable in on hot days except for over the sandbox and swings, which has virtually nothing shading it.

Do you know of any shaded parks that are not on our list? Tell us in the comments! 


Dance academy of Libertyville
About Tracy Rubel 93 Articles
Tracy dreams of someday being considered a “cool” mom and she can still remember the days when she had time to put on makeup in the morning. She is a young, single, stay-at-home mom to an awesome little boy named Jayden. She recently graduated college with a degree in Early Childhood Education and has lived in various parts of Lake County her whole life. Every day, she and her son set off in her Jeep, rocking a pair of oversized sunglasses, in search of a new and exciting adventure to go on. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading, dancing, yoga, shopping, and pinning kid’s activities on Pinterest. She truly believes that if she was given enough Starbucks that she could rule the world.

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