This is a spot I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, but I wondered if it seemed too “obvious.” However, over the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed a couple great playdates here with friends and their kids, and my friends have confessed that getting to this park can be a little confusing if you’ve never visited before. So, complete with parking directions, I give you a review of Geneva’s most picturesque park.
Park Name: Island Park, part of the Geneva Park District
Location: Probably the best way to understand where this park is would include using Google Maps and typing in “Island Park, Geneva, IL.” It is located in the middle of the Fox River, just south of Route 38 (State Street) and just north of the bridge over which the Metra train crosses the water.
Parking: You can’t drive onto the island, so unless you’re riding your bikes along the Fox River Trail, you’ll be parking your car and walking. We always park in a strip of public parking spots at Old Mill Park, which is located just north of Route 38 and across the street from Mill Race Cyclery. The lot in front of Mill Race Cyclery is designated free public parking as well. Then you follow the sidewalk under the bridge and head south over a footbridge onto the island. The playground is at the south end of the island, and so that adds up to a walk that’s about 1/3 of a mile. The other option is to park in downtown Geneva (on the west side of the Fox River) and use the pedestrian/bike bridge (under the bridge used by the train) to cross over to the island. You can park along the residential street of South River Lane to do this. I’ve also read about people parking at a public lot in the government complex off Route 31 and taking the pedestrian bridge over, but I’ve never tried that myself.
Amenities: Picnic tables, fishing, biking and walking trails and a pavilion that can be rented. The tree-house themed playground is only a year old and it features a popular zip line as well as swings. There are restrooms in the pavilion, although we’ve never used them. The big draw at Island Park is the gorgeous views of the Fox River, the mature trees and an up-close view of Metra and freight trains as they cross the Fox River.
Good For: Families looking to fish, picnic, play or take a bike ride or stroll along the Fox River. An old playground was replaced in the summer of 2012 while work was also being done to replace the northern footbridge onto the island. The new playground is rated for children ages 5-12, and it does have one high drop-off point. It features a couple of slides, numerous climbing opportunities and a rope structure strung between two sections of the playground. There isn’t a toddler playground, but there are toddler swings and a play “rowboat” for younger kids. This is also a great park if your kid loves trains, since either Metra or freight trains cross the railroad bridge quite often.
Our Experience: My family have visited Island Park a number of times since it reopened in the fall of 2012, both with and without friends, and we are always so pleased we did. The walk along the Fox River reminds us of why we’re so happy we live in the area. You can always find a table in the shade for a picnic. The playground keeps our daughter engaged, and she of course loves the zip line. During one of our most recent visits with friends, I figured we’d stop before heading home and get an ice cream treat at a little walk-up window located in the Mill Race Cyclery. I remembered it as being a basic hotdog spot. But it’s actually under different ownership now, and called the Early Light Cafe. The menu offers breakfast items served all day (such as bagels, oatmeal and egg sandwiches), panini sandwiches, ice cream and other frozen treats. My daughter and her little friend enjoyed their ice cream cones, and I enjoyed a very good cup of iced coffee, made with frozen coffee ice cubes. That’s quality! Anyway, I recommend a stop there on your way into or out of the park.
More photos from Island Park: