The latest in our “Great Parks!” series is a special place that aims to accommodate play for children of all abilities. More features are still to be added, but contributor Rebecca Greco says her children can’t wait to return to the Sensory Garden Playground in Wheaton. Read on to learn more about this unique spot!
Name and address/location of the park and what park system it belongs to:
The Sensory Garden Playground is part of a multiphase, cooperative project from a number of partners including the Wheaton Park District, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, Landscape Structures and Shane’s Inspiration. Phase 1 has been completed, and more attractions will be opening later this year. Additional phases are still seeking funding.
The Sensory Garden Playground is located in Danada South Park, off Naperville Road and just north of Warrenville Road. Click here to see a map and detailed directions on how to reach the park; it can be hard to find on your first visit.
Is the parking nearby?
There is a bit of a walk to get to the parking lot, you can’t see the playground from the parking lot. Make sure you follow the signs to the parking lot on Navistar Drive. Once you park, there is a walk across a bridge before you get to the playground, it is all paved, though.
Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
The tagline for this project is “Play for All” so this playground is made with children of all abilities in mind. There is a really neat musical garden with a variety of instruments, there is also a planter box of dirt with buckets and shovels that kids can play in. There’s a variety of different slides, plenty of space to run around, a little climbing cave, and a four person seesaw. The whole playground has a horse theme so there is a barn, riding horses, and some horse statues under the tent with the picnic tables. There is also a wheelchair ramp for access onto the playground equipment.
Is there a separate playground for toddlers?
The website describes this as a playground area aimed at children from 2 to 5 years old. There are only baby swings in the area, not any regular swings, so it really is for younger children. There aren’t any high ladders or tall slides.
Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
There’s a path that goes around but we did not follow it, I’m not sure where it goes. There is also plenty of area around the playground that is paved.
What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
Both my kids loved the instruments and the seesaw. I don’t think they had a least favorite part because neither wanted to leave!
What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
I liked how nicely spread out the playground was. There’s a lot of space for running and everything was reasonable for my 2-year-old daughter to do by herself. There’s a lot of fun, unique equipment and I always love a rubber cushion playground. The only problem I had was the lack of a bathroom, that’s the only reason we ended up leaving.
Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of day?
We went on an early spring Saturday afternoon and it was not busy, though it was a little bit rainy. It is pretty tucked away so it’s definitely a park you have to be looking for; it probably would never get as busy as parks that are near more stores or other centrally located places.
Are there public bathrooms? Is it indoor plumbing or a port-a-potty? Is there a changing table if it is inside a building?
According to the website: “Accessible, portable washrooms are available onsite for your convenience.” However, I could not see any nearby. I’m guessing that because it was still so early in the season, they might not have brought them out yet. I plan on checking again closer to summer and I will update if they are there, but plan a bathroom break before arriving at this park.
What ages to you feel this park is best for?
Both my 2- and 5-year-old kids had a ton of fun and didn’t want to leave. I could see older kids getting a bit bored because there isn’t anything big to climb.
Can you describe your family’s experience a bit?
We spent the morning in downtown Naperville and decided to stop at the Sensory Garden Playground on our way home. I tried to go last year but couldn’t find where the park was, it’s not easy to see from the road, and the park is tucked back by a large corporate building.
There were a few other families at the playground but it’s a large enough space that it wasn’t crowded or busy. The rubber cushioning was perfect since it was early spring and a little bit wet. There’s a lot of different equipment and my daughters both loved exploring and playing concerts on the instruments.
It started raining and we needed to cut our trip a little short to go find a bathroom, but I promised them that we would definitely be returning this summer. This would be a great place for a picnic and to run around and play, I can’t wait for the new “Art Along the Way” exhibit of sculptures opening this summer.
For more information on the park, visit here.