When I was compiling the Splash Pad Guide a few years back, I learned of a new spot: Dragonfly Landing in Lisle. So on a sweltering day in mid-July, the preschooler and I decided to check it out.
Name: PrairieWalk Pond and Dragonfly Landing, a 4.5 acre natural area funded with help from a $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. PrairieWalk Pond serves as a storm water retention basin that supports the redevelopment in downtown Lisle. It opened in October 2010. Dragonfly Landing, which features a splash pad and playground, opened in June 2011.
Location: Just west of Main Street in downtown Lisle. The park is bordered by Route 53 on the west, Ogden Avenue on the north, Burlington Avenue on the South and Garfield Avenue on the east. (If you are using your GPS, it’s probably easiest to navigate to the intersection of Garfield and Burlington avenues. Street parking is not allowed; instead you can park in a public lot off Garfield Avenue. The spots under the trees do not require a permit. You’ll see the signs.)
Amenities: PrairieWalk Pond features a 2-acre pond with a lighted path around it, a number of scenic overlooks, a preserved wetland and a gazebo. It also features more than 100 different types of native plants, grasses, shrubs and trees. plus educational signage. Dragonfly Landing is a nature-themed splash pad with “giant” flowers that mist water. It also has a picnic shelter with a living “green” roof (although it’s brown this year because of the drought) and a playground that in addition to your normal slides and climbing walls features spinning “cat tails” and bouncy, wooden “lily pads.” There are no restrooms, just a portable toilet and a hand-washing station. The park has a water fountain.
Admission: Parking and the park are free. The splash pad is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It opened from the season on Memorial Day weekend, and while I can’t find this info for sure, I bet it closes for the season Labor Day weekend.
Good For: The splash pad at Dragofly Landing is good for toddlers on up, and the playground is fine for preschoolers on up. Anyone who enjoys a stroll will like taking a walk around PrairieWalk Pond. (Each lap around the pond is 1,600 feet; One mile would be 3 1/3 trips around the ond.) And maybe it’s just me, but I found the info about how PrairieWalk Pond helps manage the downtown storm water — reducing flooding — kind of fascinating. Maybe a good field trip for your budding urban planner or environmentalist?
Our Experience: My 3-year-old daughter and I stopped here on a very hot day, and we found Dragonfly Landing to be popular but not crazy busy. The splash pad area seemed smaller than Geneva’s Moore Park and has less water elements, but all the kids were having lots of fun. The water turns off about every five minutes, but one of the older kids was always happy to press the button in the center of the landing to get the water going again. The splash pad is located on concrete, not on a cushioned surface, but there really wasn’t a lot of running, and I didn’t see anyone wipe out.
I was a little disappointed that there were just two tables under the shelter. Both were all taken up, so I sat on a bench, and got a wee bit wet from the splash pad, so I moved to a place on the stone wall. And of course I’m always sad to find a park that doesn’t have restrooms. We didn’t try the portable toilet.
My daughter probably spent about as much time on the playground as the splash pad. She really loved the spinning cat tails and bouncing lily pads.
We had intended to walk around the pond at the end of our visit, but did I mention it was really, really, really hot that day? So that’s definitely on the agenda for our trip. A photographer was taking some pictures with a fountain in the pond as a backdrop, and it’s a scenic little place. Also on our next visit, I’ll make time to check out some of the shops in downtown Lisle. The whole area is pretty darn charming.