DeickePark-Huntley-Square

Great Parks! The Discovery Zone at Deicke Park in Huntley

Friday, Sep 24th, 2010 by

Editor’s Note: This post about the Discovery Zone at Deicke Park in Huntley first ran in 2010. It has been updated with new photos. 

 

Deicke Park is located in Huntley. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Deicke Park is located in Huntley. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

When a friend suggested my daughter and I meet her and her kids at a park in Huntley, I was skeptical. Huntley? Isn’t that the town with the sad-looking outlet mall? The place we pass on Interstate 90 when headed to my in-laws’ house? And wouldn’t it take me at least 45 minutes to get there?

 

The answers were yes, yes, yes. But let me tell you – the drive was more than worth it. And as a result, Deicke Park is the very first park to be featured in the new weekly Go West Young Mom “Great Parks!” series.

 

Deicke Park is a picturesque, 28-acre public park located on Route 47 about five miles of I-90. It’s part of the Huntley Park District, and it has your standard tennis courts, horseshoe courts, basketball courts, picnic shelters, etc.

 

But the reason to make the trip to Huntley is the Discovery Zone, a playground that opened in Deicke Park in 2009. It’s basically a play village for toddlers and preschoolers – with a rubber-cushion surface covering most everything that’s not a sidewalk, which are done in concrete. And despite looking like a junior amusement park, there is no admission fee.

 

Your kids can pretend to get their hair cut at Hoppy’s Barber Shop, or serve up imaginary ice cream cones at the Huntley Dairy Mart. (There’s an abacus for keeping track of orders and money!) They can scramble around playground equipment that looks like a firetruck, steer a “school bus” that rolls from side to side, ride in a playground train, play a variety of musical instruments, put mommy in the “zoo,” or practice their shot at a series of basketball hoops of different heights.

 

An overhead view of the "Discovery Zone" at Deicke Park in Huntley.  Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

An overhead view of the “Discovery Zone” at Deicke Park in Huntley. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

 

 

Bells actually sound at the railroad crossing, and there is a giant chalkboard wall on which to leave your mark. Note that there is also a sand play area, but my daughter was so enamored with everything else I didn’t even have to steer her away.  Because I would have – I really hate sand outside of beaches and splash parks.

 

On the sign in front of the park, the recommended age for the Discovery Zone is 2 to 12 years. But I think it would be a fine place to bring a beginning walker – there are so many sturdy structures to help keep his or her balance. And I would think that most children would age out of this sort of place by 7 or 8, although maybe it would help if you brought along some puppets or costumes to help with pretend play. It’s also fully ADA-accessible.

 

You can visit the real Dairy Mart just down the road in Huntley after spending time at Deicke Park's Discovery Zone.  Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

You can visit the real Dairy Mart just down the road in Huntley after spending time at Deicke Park’s Discovery Zone. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

 

Just outside the Discovery Zone is a small brick building that contains men’s and women’s restrooms. (No diaper changing station.)

 

You’ll likely want to bring your lunch or at least a snack. There are several tables inside the Discovery Zone, and more options outside the wrought iron fence that encloses it.

 

Another reason I loved this park – besides the fact that it’s just really, really unique – was that there were no dangerously high areas to tempt my brave, but not always well-coordinated, toddler. At so many playgrounds we visit, there is the toddler play equipment, which is just perfect for her. But within minute she’s running over trying to mimic what the big kids are doing on their playground equipment, with the steep, twisty slides and the dangerous drops.

 

Kids have their choice of hoops at Deicke Park's Discovery Zone in Huntley. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Kids have their choice of hoops at Deicke Park’s Discovery Zone in Huntley. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

 

At Discovery Zone, I was able to breathe easy, relax and just enjoy how much fun she was having. I think we both had smiles on our face nearly the entire time!

 

Now if you do have an older child along, Deicke Park also has a separate playground area with a treehouse theme. It looked quite cool, too, with lots of different places to climb and swing. That’s within walking distance, but you certainly would not be able to see children in both areas at the same time.

 

Depending on where you live, I know Huntley could be quite a drive – maybe prohibitively so. But if you decide to make the trip in late summer or early fall, you could combine it with an outing to one of the many apple orchards around Woodstock, about 10 miles north on Route 47.

 

Or you can head into the charming town of Woodstock itself and spend some time on the square – where one of my favorite movies, “Groundhog Day,” was filmed. That’s actually what my daughter and I did after leaving Discovery Zone. I got to browse in some of the cute boutiques and check out restaurants that line the square. Then we shared an ice cream cone, and I watched as she followed in the steps of Bill Murray, running around in the grass near the gazebo.

 

The result was a day full of great memories that was definitely worth a 45-minute drive. Find more pictures from Discovery Zone at Deicke Park below.

 

Kids can play on a "firetruck" at the Discovery Zone. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Kids can play on a “firetruck” at the Discovery Zone. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

 

There's a sand play area at the Discovery Zone in Deicke Park. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

There’s a sand play area at the Discovery Zone in Deicke Park. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Kids take a spin at the Discovery Zone at Deicke Park. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Kids take a spin at the Discovery Zone at Deicke Park. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Deicke Park's Discovery Zone has a rubber safety surface.  Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

Deicke Park’s Discovery Zone has a rubber safety surface. Photo courtesy of Thom Palmer, executive director, Huntley Park District.

 

Do you have a park that you‘d like to nominate to be featured in our “Great Parks” series?  We’d love to hear about it. Email suggestions to editor@gowestyoungmom.com.

5 thoughts on “Great Parks! The Discovery Zone at Deicke Park in Huntley

  1. Nicki

    That place looks awesome! I'd probably have to go on a day the kids have off from school, though, because otherwise by the time I got there with just Pufferfish, it would be time to go home and pick up the older kids from school!

  2. Paul

    I am glad you had a great time at DDZ, it really is a special and unique place to play. I hope you come back and enjoy it. I am on the Park District Board and I just love watching the kids explore the playground.

    One thing you missed, was buried in the rubber surface are "sound picks", when you step on them they set off sound effects, they are buried all through the playground.

Comments are closed.