SEBA Park in South Elgin, the latest in our “Great Parks!” series, has a beautiful location on the Fox River and offers fishing opportunities, access to the Fox River Trail, a picnic shelter and a brand new, all-inclusive playground. It even won an award for design and development! Read on to learn all about this special park!
Name and address/location of the park and what park system it belongs to:
SEBA Park (originally named after the South Elgin Business Association) is located at 151 Water Street in downtown South Elgin, on the west side of the Fox River and just south of where State Street crosses the river. It is owned by the village of South Elgin and operated by its Parks and Recreation Department. It could easily be combined with a trip to the Fox River Trolley Museum.
Is the parking nearby?
Yes, there is a long strip of parking running along the length of the park.
Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
This is a really awesome, unique playground, which only opened in August 2015. It was long in the works, however, dating back to a $50,000 grant the village got in 2011 from Shane’s Inspiration, a California-based charity that helps communities build “inclusive playgrounds and programs that unite children of all abilities.” There were lots of funding challenges along the way, and lots of community involvement (led by the FUNdation, a local not-for-profit organization) to make it happen. Just a few months after the playground opened, SEBA Park won the Illinois Parks & Recreation Association’s “Outstanding Facility & Park Award” recognizing public agencies for their exceptional and unique achievements in design and development.
The playground has a “treehouse in the woods” theme, and it offers lots of ramps to make the fun accessible for children in wheelchairs. There is a rocking boat, called “Sway Fun,” with a table in between benches; it can accommodate a wheelchair, too. In addition to traditional swings, there are large specialized swings with safety belts, plus a separate swing that is like a large round disc. There are large green canopies over portions of the playground to provide shade. And then it just offers some fun, cool features in keeping with its theme: One of the slides looks like a log, another has those rollers that make the ride bumpy and loud. There’s a big “rock” to climb, and some games and musical instruments built into the playground, too. Away from the main playground, there are fallen “logs” on which kids can climb and hide, and there are little sculpted animal creatures inside they can try to spot.
What type of playground surface? Cushion, mulch, sand, etc?
Rubberized safety surface.
Is there a separate playground for toddlers?
Not yet. Funding is underway to create an early-childhood phase for this playground.
Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
The Fox River Trail runs through the park, so there are a lot of bicyclists passing through.
What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
My daughter, who is 7, just loved everything about this spot, especially the climbing opportunities and how large the playground was. She got frustrated waiting for one of the two traditional swings, but I was like “Really? With all this other stuff to play on?”
What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
Any park that lets us appreciate the Fox River is a winner in my book, but I just particularly loved this playground, too, and its mission and the story behind its creation. It might be challenging with a toddler, because it is quite big, so it will be great when the early-childhood section is built and open. I wish there were some picnic tables spread around the park under the trees; the only ones we could see were the permanent tables under the pavilion, and that was being occupied by a birthday party, and another table located under a small shelter was occupied, too. We ended up just throwing a blanket down on the ground for our picnic.
Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of day?
We were there on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in late May. There were lots of families enjoying the park — my daughter enjoyed having kids to run around with — but I wouldn’t describe it crowded. However, I’m sure in the summer it’s a popular place for day camps, and this article notes that a school for children on the autism spectrum drove an hour from Chicago just to play at SEBA Park! How great is that! So you could certainly encounter some groups of kids on your visit.
Are there public bathrooms?
Yes, there is a permanent structure with bathrooms inside. I’m not sure if that building might close in the winter; I’ll try to check next time I’m there.
Is there shade over the playground? Is there shade for a picnic?
Maybe because of its location right on the river, there aren’t a lot of huge shade trees in this park. The playground has a bit of natural shade, and then big green canopies over parts of the play structure provide some more. Most of the actual park is in the sun, but there is a large pavilion with picnic tables inside.
What ages to you feel this park is best for?
This is a wonderful park for families looking for a special outing, where you can combine a picnic lunch or dinner with a great playground for your kids. You could also combine it with a visit to the Fox River Trolley Museum – it’s walking distance. The riverfront setting is beautiful, and of course the fact that the playground can be enjoyed by children of all abilities is so special. The fact that the playground itself is large and does have a number of climbing functions might make it challenging to keep up with a toddler. Kids ages 4 or 5 and older (and their parents) will love it.
Can you describe your family’s experience a bit?
I had followed the progress of the SEBA Park in the local news, and had featured its August 2015 grand opening on the Go West Calendar. But we didn’t get to check it out until a couple months after it opened, when we drove home through South Elgin on the way home from running errands. It was a cold, gray day, and I just wanted to look at the park through my car window, but when my daughter saw the playground, she insisted on getting out and giving it a trial run.
Of course she loved it, so when we had a free day in May and were looking for something special yet relaxing to do outside, we decided to pick up some fried chicken and enjoy a picnic lunch at SEBA Park. It was a lovely afternoon, there were lots of lovely, friendly families at the park, and we stayed more than two hours.
I’m looking forward to taking her back with some of her friends to enjoy this special playground. It’s really a wonderful addition to the Fox Valley and the Chicago suburbs!