15 Best Mulch-Free (and Mud-Free!) Playgrounds

A little mud never hurt anyone — but some days, I don’t feel like dealing with it! These mud-free playgrounds generally use colorful, soft surfaces as an alternative to mulch or woodchips. We’ve scoped out options all around the suburbs so you can get a sneak peek before you go.

This article is sponsored by Battistoni | Beam | Polivka Orthodontics.

Best Mulch-Free Playgrounds in the Western Suburbs

The Sandlot Universal Playground, Oak Brook

The Sandlot Universal Playground
1301 Forest Gate Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523

The Sandlot Universal Playground is near the Tennis Center and inclusive with double wide ramps, and equipment for all abilities. Click here to read more about The Sandlot.

Darien Community Park, Darien

Darien Community Park
7100 Clarendon Hills Road
Darien, IL 60561

Although the address for Darien Community Park is listed as Clarendon Hills Road, the parking lot for the toddler-friendly fenced-in playground is off Plainfield Road right across the street from Indian Prairie Library. It makes a great combo trip!

There’s a lot of opportunities for imaginary play with a lemonade stand, the fire truck pictured above, castle, play house, and island and boat-themed playground equipment. Additionally, the playground was designed with accessibility in mind, including wheelchair-friendly soft surface, ramps, a wheelchair-accessible spinner, and more. Click here to read more about this great park.

Maryknoll Park, Glen Ellyn

Maryknoll Park
845 Pershing Avenue
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Maryknoll Park is a definitely favorite for toddlers! Check out the little tree house play structure, swings, big a sandbox with water features, and a low-to-the-ground disc swing.

Maryknoll Park also has a miniature golf course and a paid splash pad if you’d like to extend your trip!

95th Street Community Plaza, Naperville

95th Street Community Plaza
3109 Cedar Glade Drive
Naperville, IL 60564

This book-themed playground is right outside the 95th Street Library and has colorful and bright equipment for kids to explore, slide down, and climb on. There’s also a free, fenced-in splash pad that’s open over the summer. Click here for a full overview of 95th Street Community Plaza.

Wolf’s Crossing Community Plaza, Naperville

This big playground has a soft, spongy surface throughout. There are quite a few different play structures, including a toddler area with outdoor instruments, as well as an attached splash pad and an outdoor fitness center. Click here for Katie’s full overview of Wolf’s Crossing Community Park in Naperville.

Denning Park, La Grange

Denning Park
4903 Willow Springs Road
La Grange, IL 60525

Located across the street from Lyons Township South Campus, this is a favorite park for many because of the variety of equipment, climbing rock, and large field to run around in.

Owen’s Playground at Hillcrest School, Downers Grove

Owen’s Playground at Hillcrest School
1435 Jefferson Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60516

Please note that Owen’s Playground is only open to the public outside of school hours. Owen Chaidez and his mom, Peg, started Dream Build Play Experience to make sure that all kids, of all abilities, can safely play. This playground is the first of many playgrounds they have had a hand in creating across Chicagoland! Click here for the full overview of Owen’s Playground.

Jaycee Playground at the Riverwalk, Naperville

Jaycee Playground at the Riverwalk
912 Sindt Court
Naperville, IL 60540

This completely renovated playground (completed in October 2019) features new play structures, swings, surfacing, and stand-alone play structures.

Discovery Park, Lisle

Discovery Playground
Lisle Community Park
1825 Short Street
Lisle, IL 60532

Discovery Playground was built with accessibility for all in mind! You’ll find wide ramps, musical instruments, two zip lines (one with a bucket seat), disc swing, a wheelchair accessible spinner, an expression baby swing, and more. The soft, spongy surface is great for toddlers finding their footing, too.

Lester Community Park, Downers Grove

Lester Community Playground
Lester Elementary School
236 Indianapolis Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60516

This playground is designed to be accessible to children of all abilities and developmental levels! It’s got artificial turf, communication boards for those who use AAC (augmentative and alternative communication), and more. The playground is only open to the public during non-school hours and is designed for ages 5-12 years old. Click here for a full overview of Lester Community Park and the story behind it.

Northside Park, Wheaton

Northside Park
1300 N West Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

This playground has a beautiful setting at Lincoln Marsh Waterway. Kids can slip down a slide set into a hill, meander down the paths and across the bridge, and brave the zipline. There’s also a huge sledding hill that is fun to roll down on a warm day.

Seven Gables Park, Wheaton

Seven Gables Park
1750 S Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60189

This big playground has separate big kids and little kids sections, as well as free-standing climbing walls and nets.

Gordon Park, La Grange

Gordon Park
Ogden and Tilden Avenues
La Grange IL, 60525

This sunny park is great for spring days when you want to catch all the sunshine you can!

Patriots Park, Downers Grove

This boat-themed playground is in a beautiful setting next to a pond.

The Playground for Everyone at Butterfield Park, Elmhurst

The Playground for Everyone at Butterfield Park
385 E. Van Buren Street
Elmhurst, IL 60126

This colorful playground has equipment for everyone! It was designed with inclusivity in mind, so you’ll find a variety of accessible play structures.

Forest Glen Park, Woodridge

Forest Glen Park
2908 Forest Glen Parkway
Woodridge, IL 60517

My kids love running up and down the colorful striped hills here! This park also has a bubbling fountain surrounded by flowers and a shaded picnic pavilion.

Our list of best playgrounds includes readers’ local favorites, so be sure to check it out!

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About the Author

Rachel Matuch
Rachel is a mom to two boys (ages 2 and 4) who "certainly has her hands full," as strangers in grocery stores tell her. She's doing her best to keep up and get comfortable with the mud pies and tree-climbing her kids love. In addition to writing and editing, Rachel frequently pillages the Naperville library, plays nerdy board games with her husband, and collapses into a tired heap at 8:30 p.m.

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