Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parks That Rock: Little Bear Garden

Little Bear Garden

A wonderful play place located in one corner of the sprawling Gallery Park of Glenview, which also includes the Glenview Park District buildings -- including the one that houses Splash Landings -- and a large manmade lake surrounded by walking and biking paths. Gallery Park itself is nice but LBG is wonderful!
For starters, it's completely fenced-in. Good for runaway toddlers. Also, it's close to some great indoor venues, like SL and the Kohl Children's Museum, so if the weather turns sour, you can simply head a block down the street in either direction to continue the fun.
The park sits at the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Patriot Boulevard, across the street from The Glen, a shopping and residential complex with some great takeout joints like Potbellys and Noodles & Co. -- handy for impromptu picnics. There are picnic tables placed in each area of the park, as well as a small, stone sitting area with a low wall, and a large, gazebo-like structure with numerous bench swings, all of which make for nice picnicking or snacking spots.
Coming from Evanston or the expressway, it's very easy to get to LBG -- Golf to Waukegan, right on Waukegan to Chestnut, left on Chestnut -- or take the I-94 to Lake Avenue West, get off and take Lake to Waukegan, right on Waukegan to Chestnut, left on Chestnut -- and there is tons of free parking in the adjacent lot.

Here's a virtual tour of the park:

Park and head towards the playground. You'll pass this small building as you approach the entrance to the park. It houses restrooms, water fountains and pay phones, and also provides a nice view of the manmade lake in the distance.

Enter if you dare! And please close the gate behind you so my erstwhile child will not run away...one of his favorite new pasttimes. "Makin Mama nervous", as our pal Nora would say!

If your kid is as random as mine, pause at the bike corral and walk through the tubular tunnel on your way into the park.

The playground is designed to look a bit like a mini-Kremlin castle, complete with resident crocodiles in the surrounding moat.

Lots of little nooks, crannies, and corner seats hidden in the walls surrounding the main structure, where the kids can stop to trade snacks and refuel.

The alligators have little seats too, and knobby runners in their teeth for the tots to play with.

Peekaboo cutout hidey holes in fun shapes abound, so its fun to spy on the toddlers -- unbeknownst to them! -- as they go about doin...well...all those goofy things wee ones do when left to their own devices.

Another big doorway cutout that Jonah is enjoying mightily. The walkway behind him is one of two wooden bridges leading to each side of the play structure, and the ground is made of that wonderful, spongy playground material.

Hugs by the crank for the "drawbridge"...

...and here is the drawbridge, i.e. the other wooden bridge leading to the play structure -- careful not to step off into crocodile city!

Lots of fun turrets to climb with more peekaboos, this one leading to a slide.

The slide, conquered.

Hard to tell from this wintry photo, but this giant gazebo-like structure is a circular, wooden frame covered in climbing flowers in the summer months. Provides nice shade and the kids like to walk the circular stone path and -- if they're anything like Ayize -- try to murderize the morning glories and other fine foliage bordering the path. Lanterns hang above to provide light at night.

Bench swings like this one are suspended every few feet along the entire "gazebo" perimeter, and its wonderful to swing in the shade and enjoy the occasional breezes and sometimes, the light mist coming off the sprinklers, depending on where you're sitting.

Okay, it was winter...but this gives you an idea of the size of the water play area. Small, but very fun!

The sprinklers in action. There are buttons imbedded n many of the colored spots on the ground that, when pushed, activate different components of the play area: a central, circular sprinkler; these little "spitting" fountains that Ayize so adores; large pole misters of various intensities; and squirting, arcing spouts around the edges of the play area.
FYI, always come armed with a swim diaper and a change of clothes!

Oh yeah, and don't forget the towels!

Dried off, warming up, and swinging in Grandma's arms...heavenly!

Other fun stuff the park has (well, for newish walkers!) include two little winding paths set amongst small groves (one can be seen in the background here); very gently rolling hills that Ayize's age group loves to run up and down (also in the background); and many flat, large rocks to climb (and attempt to carry, as pictured!) that are a continuation of the bodies of the dragons who originate in the sandbox.

The huge dragon sandbox, which has a free-flowing perimeter.

Brave toddlers even climb in the mouth...rawr!

We love the little hedge maze, with benches at its center. A bit babyish for my nieces but they still had a good time playing hide-and-seek...

...and Ayize, of course, LOVED the game, because the maze is "just his size". He felt quite grown-up and included!

Between the hedge maze and several boxes of blooming flower patches, there are a bunch of these tower structures with wind socks attached to the top that the girls (and of course, daredevil Ayize) enjoy climbing on and around.

Snack time and water refueling in the flower garden, before heading home. Phew!

Hooray! Let's play!!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the AWESOME review. I have a friend in Oak Park whom I am going to invite over for a picnic playdate with her girls. I can send her this link so she can see where we will be going. THANKS!!


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