Outdoor Locations To Visit With Toddlers.

blackberry farm - outdoor places to visit with toddlers - feeding goats

A List of Locations for Toddlers to Explore and Play Outdoors in the Western Suburbs of Chicago.

My family is fortunate to live right by a forest preserve, which means we have ample space to explore right outside our home. But we still like to take Mia to new outdoor locations to visit in and around Naperville.

Below, I’ve listed the outdoor spots in the western suburbs we’ve loved spending time exploring. Including walking paths/trails, playgrounds, and zoos/farms. It will continue to be updated as we visit new places.

Walking PathsPlaygroundsZoos/Farms
Naperville RiverwalkSensory Garden PlaygroundCosley Zoo
Whalon LakeDiscovery PlaygroundPhillip’s Park Zoo
Lisle Community ParkMcCollum Park PlaygroundBlackberry Farm
Knoch Knolls Park & Nature CenterMaryknoll Park Playground
Greene Valley Forest Preserve95th St Comm Plaza Playground
Hudson Crossing Park

Walking Paths

Naperville Riverwalk – Naperville, IL

Naperville Riverwalk - Naperville, IL - Nature Scavenger hunt

Whenever Mia asks us to go “downtown”, we know she is specifically referring to the Naperville Riverwalk.

She loves walking along the river and watching all the geese and ducks swim by. In the water, we’ve also seen fish, water snakes, turtles, and frogs. The Riverwalk is mostly stroller-friendly but does get narrow on both sides where you’ll need to head up to the sidewalk to continue walking along the river.

Along the Riverwalk, you’ll also find the paddleboat quarry, centennial beach, plenty of restaurants, and many other attractions.

Full address: 188 W. Jackson Avenue, Naperville, IL 60540

For more information and a detailed brochure, please visit Riverwalk (napervilleparks.org)

Whalon Lake – Naperville, IL

Whalon Lake in Illinois - Nature Scavenger Hunt

Whalon Lake is a 249-acre lake with a path surrounding it. Here, you’ll find picnic tables, a dog park, and a launch pad for kayaks, boats, and canoes. Fishing is allowed and catch-and-release is encouraged, but there are daily limits for each type of fish and how many you can take home.

The wildlife are abundant here. Most notably we’ve seen butterflies, ducks, geese, heron, fish, frogs, turtles, and last but not least – BEAVERS! We watched a beaver swim clear across the lake one day while we were out for an evening walk. It was a very cool experience and I hope to see another next time we visit.

Full address: 1480 Royce Road, Naperville, IL 60565

For more information, please visit Whalon Lake | Forest Preserve District of Will County (reconnectwithnature.org)

Lisle Community Park – Lisle, IL

Lisle Community Park in Illinois - Nature Scavenger Hunt

Lisle Community Park is a 110-acre park with multiple ponds, fields, trails, and picnic shelters. Here you’ll also find Discovery Playground and Sea lion Aquatic Park.

family of geese on pond in lisle community park

Along the trails we’ve spotted fish, geese, ducks, cranes, and other small mammals, as well as crawfish exoskeletons.

Full address: 1925 Ohio St, Lisle, IL 60532

For more information, please visit Lisle Park District – Discover the Opportunities

Knoch Knolls Park and Nature Center – Naperville, IL

Playground in Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, IL - Nature Scavenger Hunt

Knoch Knolls Park is a 218-acre park, much of which is available to the public. Here you’ll find trails, the Nature Playground, a canoe launch, fishing, picnic areas, and disc golf.

Knoch Knolls Nature Center Fish Tank in Naperville, IL - Nature Scavenger Hunt

The Nature Center is a focal point and is FREE to the public. There are variety of species in the nature center (both dead and alive) for your viewing, including a huge fish tank. They host a variety of programs for kids and adults.

Many different species of animals can be spotted along the ample trails.

Knoch Knolls Park full address: 336 Knoch Knolls Road, Naperville, IL 60565

Knoch Knolls Nature Center full address: 320 Knoch Knolls Road, Naperville, IL 60565

For more information, please visit Knoch Knolls Park (napervilleparks.org)

Greene Valley Forest Preserve – Naperville, IL

Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville, Illinois - Nature Scavenger Hunt

Greene Valley Forest Preserve has 13.8 miles of marked trails where you can hike, bike, horseback ride, and cross-country ski. There is a 16-acre off-leash dog park, picnic areas, and a 160ft scenic overlook with views of the Chicago skyline.

Along the trails, we’ve seen plenty of insects, birds, squirrels, and even coyotes.

The main entrance is on the west side of Greene Road a quarter mile south of 79th Street.

For more information, please visit Greene Valley (dupageforest.org)

Hudson Crossing Park – Oswego, IL

Hudson Crossing Park - Oswego, IL - Nature Scavenger Hunt

This is one of Mia’s new favorite places! Located in downtown Oswego along the Fox River, 6.2 acres of parkland features a playground, picnic shelters, trail, canoe access, and more.

Mia loves walking in the shallow, rocky water and looking for shells of all kinds. The water is clear aside from the areas with a lot of mossy rocks. We’ve seen ducks, fish, snails, dragonflies, and butterflies. I do recommend water shoes as the rocks can be slippery.

Full address: 65 N Harrison Street, Oswego, IL

For more information, please visit Hudson Crossing Park – Oswegoland Park District

Honorable Mentions we’ve yet to explore:

  • Morton Arboretum – Lisle, IL
  • Herrick Lake – Wheaton, IL
  • Danada – Wheaton, IL
  • Warrenville Grove – Warrenville, IL
  • St. James Farm – Warrenville, IL
  • Blackwell – Warrenville, IL
  • Waterfall Glen – Darien, IL
  • Churchill Woods – Glen Ellyn, IL

For a full list of the many forest preserves in Dupage County, please visit Forest Preserves (dupageforest.org)

Playgrounds

Sensory Garden Playground – Lisle, IL

Sensory Garden Playground - Naperville, IL

Photo: playforalldupage.org

The Sensory Garden Playground has a 2 to 5-year-old play area, a sound garden, treetop swings, accessible treehouse, art sculptures, and more. It is connected to the Danada Forest Preserve and a walking-paths PDF is included on their website. There are multiple projects, including a 5 to 12-year-old play area still in the works.

The Sensory Garden Playground is certified Autism Friendly.

Full address: 2751 Navistar Drive, Lisle, IL 60532

For more information, please visit: Sensory Garden and Playground – Play for All (playforalldupage.org)

Discovery Playground – Lisle, IL

Discovery Playground - Lisle, IL

Photo: unlimitedplay.org

The Discovery Playground is located right by Lisle Community Park and Sea Lion Aquatic Park. To get here, follow the sign for the Sea Lion Aquatic Park. Google Maps takes you to an incorrect, private playground, so it’s best to just pop Sea Lion Aquatic Park into the search to start.

I mentioned this playground briefly when describing Lisle Community Park, but I feel it deserves it’s own section because it’s a great playground.

The Discovery Playground is newly built and inclusive for those with disabilities. They even have a cool zipline that is kid-friendly. We usually spend some time playing at the playground before we go for a walk around the community park.

Full address: 1825 Short St, Lisle, IL 60532

For more information, please visit Lisle Park District – Discover the Opportunities

McCollum Park Playground – Downers Grove, IL

The McCollum Park Playground is a current favorite for Mia. They have a big, separated area for kids ages 2 to 5-years old, and it’s usually not crowded like the 5 to 12-year old area is.

There’s a lot more than just a playground at McCollum Park with walking trails, picnic areas, tennis and volleyball courts, and even a mini golf course.

Full Address: 6801 S. Main, Downers Grove, IL

For more information, please visit McCollum Park (dgparks.org)

Maryknoll Park Playground – Glen Ellyn, IL

There are two playgrounds in Maryknoll Park – the adventure playground and the youth playground. The youth playground consists of a treehouse-like structure, swings, and a sand pit. The adventure playground is for older kids and adults and boasts a zipline, climbing feature, and two-person swing.

There is a splash pad and mini golf course right by the playgrounds. We visited the youth playground before mini golfing on Father’s Day. The mini golf was a big hit with Mia and a great place for her first time at just under 3-years-old.

Full address: 845 Pershing Avenue, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

For more information, please visit Maryknoll Park = Your Place for Family Fun • Glen Ellyn Park District (gepark.org)

95th Street Community Plaza Playground – Naperville, IL

The playground at the 95th Street Community Plaza was a load of fun on a hot day. The splash pad is only a few steps away from the playground, so the kids there frequently alternated where they played.

There are a few different areas in the playground, including a toddler climbing area and slide, and a climbing feature for older kids – Mia was able to try it with my help.

The parking lot for the playground and splash pad is located right by the sign for the Frontier Sports Complex. I almost missed it because they are tucked back a bit.

Full address: 3109 Cedar Glade Drive, Naperville, IL 60564

For more information, please visit 95th Street Community Plaza (napervilleparks.org)

Zoos/Farms

Cosley Zoo – Wheaton, IL

Cosley Zoo is such an exciting experience for toddlers, and much smaller/easier to manage than Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo. We typically spend about two hours walking around looking at all the animals when we visit.

There are a lot of local animals at this zoo that can be trickier to spot up close in the wild such as coyotes, deer, and owls. They host daily activities for kids, one being duck (and sometimes chicken) feeding. Bring cash if you’d like to participate.

Full address: 1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187

For more information and to purchase your tickets ahead of time, please visit Cosley Zoo – A Lifetime of Inspiration Begins Here

Phillip’s Park Zoo – Aurora, IL

Phillips Park zoo entrance

Phillip’s Park Zoo is FREE and a great way to kill some time in the morning or afternoon. They have a wide variety of birds and mammals, as well as a reptile house – this was Mia’s favorite part of the zoo.

In addition to the zoo, there is a playground close by on the other side of the parking lot.

Full address: 1000 Ray Moses Drive Aurora, IL 60505

For more information, please visit Phillips Park Zoo | Aurora, IL (aurora-il.org)

Blackberry Farm – Aurora, IL

Blackberry Farm was a load of fun for a low cost. It has animals you can feed, a toddler play area, a carousel, a ride-on train, and a wagon ride, among other fun activities and sights.

Mia had a great time here and we will definitely be back for the fall festivities.

Full address: 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora, IL 60506

For more information, please visit: Home – Blackberry Farm

Key Takeaways

All the locations in this article are places we’ve ventured to and explored as a family. Mia’s love of nature is only growing as she gets older, and we will continue to nurture her curiosity and immerse her in a world filled with outdoor exploration.

Please check out my other post, Nature Scavenger Hunt: FREE Printable With Popular Critters, and download the 4-page nature scavenger hunt to use as an aid when visiting the places listed in this blog post.

Where are your family’s favorite places to visit outdoors? Have you visited any of the places on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Hi! I'm Kim.

A Registered Nurse turned stay-at-home mom to one lively little girl. I created this blog to share all things motherhood with an emphasis on the dynamic of parenting a single child. As this blog grows, you’ll find the occasional heart-tugging post but much more regarding fun things to do with a toddler in the Chicagoland area, tips and tricks for traveling with a toddler, my favorite products for babies and toddlers – especially those that I’ve found to be petite friendly. And last but not least, all the best places to grab a delicious margarita during mommy downtime.

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