The latest in our “Great Parks!” series is one we actually wrote about many years ago: Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles. But since then, the park has gotten a new, nature-themed playground, there’s a fun wading spot too, as well as an outdoor pool with a classic feel. Read on to learn more about this park where your family could spend an entire day!
Name and address/location of the park and what park system it belongs to:
Pottawatomie Park is located at 8 North Avenue in St. Charles, on the east bank of the Fox River and just north of downtown. It is part of the St. Charles Park District
Is the parking nearby?
There are plenty of spaces in a couple of huge parking lots (off North Avenue), but depending on where in the park you are headed it could be a bit of a walk. You can also walk into the park from downtown St. Charles if you would rather park along Main Street or in the lot behind the Municipal Center (off Riverside Ave just north of Main). The Riverwalk into the park starts off this lot.
Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
Pottawatomie Park is much more than a playground; it is a destination with enough to keep you busy for an entire day! It’s a beautiful, 92-acre park which contains a public pool (Swanson Pool), a community center, a native plan demonstration garden, the 9-hole Pottawatomie Golf Course, the 18-hole River View Miniature Golf Course along the river, a concession stand (open if mini golf is open), paddlewheel riverboat cruises, rentable pedal boats and canoes, fishing, a wading area where kids can walk on rocks and get their feet wet, a gorgeous pavilion with a tower to climb offering a fantastic view of the river and downtown St. Charles, an amphitheater/bandshell, tennis courts, sand volleyball, a baseball/softball field with beautiful stone seating, a circuit of exercise equipment, tons of open space and TWO separate playgrounds.
The playground closer to the parking lot is the older and smaller of the two and better for younger children. It’s a pretty standard/ordinary playground, it has a climbing structure with a few slides and there are swings. A short walk south will bring you to the larger and newer of the playgrounds, which has a nature theme. There are some faux rocks to hide under or climb, a spider web rope climb, a multistory climbing structure with a couple of tall tunnel slides. It is nice play equipment, but probably better for older/more adventurous kids. There is a small toddler section, but it does not offer much. There are no swings at this playground.
What type of playground surface? Cushion, mulch, sand, etc?
Both playgrounds have mulch.
Is there a separate playground for toddlers?
The playground closest to the parking lot is great for toddlers and preschoolers. There is a small play structure for younger children at the other playground up the hill, but it does not offer as much.
Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
Yes! There are two paved paths that go from the parking lot through the park into to downtown St. Charles. One of the paths is a Riverwalk. This one sometimes makes me nervous with my kids running and jumping around because there is nothing keeping them from falling in the Fox River. There is a parallel path on the interior of the park, though if you take it all the way into downtown it will eventually merge with the Riverwalk. There is also a foot bridge you can cross if you want to get to the west side of the river, or you can just go up there to enjoy the view!
What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
Both of my kids really love the play equipment at the newer park. They like that it is a tall structure with tall slides. They also enjoy climbing on the rocks. They both enjoy getting their feet wet in the wading area (they often spot frogs here). They both love climbing the tower at the pavilion. They both really enjoy the mini golf course and Swanson Pool. My son has nothing negative to say, my daughter wishes they would update the equipment at the older playground and she wishes there were swings at the newer playground.
What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
I love Pottawatomie Park; it’s a great place to spend a beautiful day! The only downside is that sometimes the walk back to the bathrooms or car can feel daunting because it is such a large park.
Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of day?
There are always people at Pottawatomie, but the park is so large and there is so much to do, it does not usually feel claustrophobic in any one area. The park will obviously be busier on weekends or holidays. Occasionally there are special events or large groups that rent out one of the pavilions or part of the park. In these instances there can be very large crowds.
Are there public bathrooms? Is there a changing table if it is inside a building?
Yes there are public bathrooms and they are very nice for park bathrooms! They are in a building toward the center of the park (across from the mini golf course). There are several stalls and sinks, no changing table though. Water fountains can be found here, too. The community center also has bathrooms you can use as long as it is open. There are water fountains and vending machines inside the community center. There is also a changing table inside the center.
Is there shade over the playground? Is there shade for a picnic? Are picnic tables available?
The smaller/older of the two playgrounds has quite a bit of shade. There are picnic tables on the playground that are shaded. The newer/larger playground is less shaded, but you can find shade along the perimeter. There are picnic tables near the playground, as well as lots of picnic tables spread throughout the park. Some are in the sun and some are in the shade.
There are LOTS of picnic tables and benches throughout the park (as well as plenty of space for a picnic blanket). If it is not being rented, the beautiful, large pavilion along the river is a great place to have a picnic. You can find both sunny and shady spots.
What ages to you feel this park is best for?
The park as a whole is great for any age! Older children might get bored easily at the smaller/older playground, but the newer/larger playground is great for older kids. Swings are only available at the smaller playground. Younger children might not be able to make it up to the top of the big play structure at the newer playground, but there are other things they will find to do there. Pottawatomie Park has so much to offer, everyone in your family can find something they would enjoy!
About the writer: Dawn lives in St. Charles with her husband, 9 year old daughter, and 4 year old son.