Chicago's 12 Best Splash Parks & Fountains

Keeping Cool in the Summer

By Sara Yaniga, Macaroni Kid Chicago (Midtown) June 4, 2024

Looking for a way to keep cool in the summer without the hassle of heading to the pool?  No worries - Chicago has over a hundred parks with water features perfect for a quick cool down with the kids and with so many great ones, it makes exploring new neighborhoods even more fun!  

Put on your sunscreen, grab a towel (and maybe a change of clothes) and check out some of our favorites - 

  • Adams Park Water Playground (1919 N Seminary) is often on the top of our list with its own water playground adjacent to the playground, sandbox, picnic area, and field house.  The current water playground features plenty of space to run around dodging tall sprayers and a bucket that always seems on the verge of dumping right on my head.  They do run several summer programs at this park in the summer, so be sure to check the current schedule of open play times for this year, but don't worry, there are plenty of opportunities for an afternoon cool down at this neighborhood park.  As an added bonus there are many great options around the corner for a quick bite or sweet treat along Armitage.
  • Margaret Donahue Playlot (1230 W School St) - The first time we discovered this playlot, my poor baseball-loving son, nearly passed out from bliss.  This park was created with every Chicago-loving, Cubs-adoring, fan in mind.  It is on the smaller side and can get pretty busy in the pre-nap rush, but don't let that hold you back from stopping in to play!  I love that you can easily see one kid in the splash area while another plays on the skyscraper-themed playground.  
  • Indian Boundary Park (2500 W Lunt Ave) - There are times when simple is best and that is exactly what this spray pad has to offer.  A simple place in a gorgeous park to cool off.  The splash area doesn't have bright, whimsical mushroom and flower sprayers, or even a bucket ready to pour gallons of water on you,  but instead, it is home to a handful of tall spray columns, reminiscent of what you would find as leaving the beach for a quick wash.  Each provides a fairly gentle mist from several sprayers and there is plenty of open space for kids to run around - which makes it a non-intimidating option for younger kids, but still loads of fun for older kids.  There are benches around the water play area for parents who want to stay dry, or for grabbing a quick snack.
  • Mary Bartelme Park (115 S Sangamon St) - This West Loop gem offers a beautiful way to cool down with its Fountain Plaza.  Five steel gates, which my son calls "the car wash", put out a fine mist that is refreshing and much less intimidating than traditional water features at city parks, or even some of the city fountains that attract visitors.  All set with a beautiful city backdrop and the park is home to many events, and a Green Market, it is a "must visit" during the summer.
  • Ward (A. Montgomery) Park (630 N Kingsbury St) - This River North neighborhood park is situated along the north branch of the Chicago River and the spray pad is near the Kingsbury entrance to the park, and while it is small, it is a lot of fun!  The play structures and swings surround the water area, making it very easy to watch kids who want to run in different directions.  The area does not have any shade, other than a couple of sun sails over the picnic tables, so the water area is a much-loved feature for visitors to this park.
  • 31st Street Harbor/Burroughs Beach (3100 S Lakeshore Dr) - I love this area because it connects to another summer fave - the BEACH!  A fairly new area, built in 2012, this playground has a natural water play area surrounded by large rocks for benches which provide an excellent resting spot while you watch the kids run around.
  • Fellger Park (2000 W Belmont Ave) - We stumbled upon this park a few years ago while exploring the Roscoe Village area and originally the plan was to go to the much larger Hamlin Park to play, but when we came across this tiny neighborhood spot we had an immediate change of plans.  Initially, the train in the playground caught the eye of our son, but it was a hot day, temps in the 90s and that giant green "cactus" shooting water out was just too hard to resist.  We weren't planning on getting wet, but it was so warm and sunny that we were mostly dry when it came time to hop back in the stroller.  
  •  Andersen Park (824 Hayes Ave, Oak Park) - Okay, okay - so technically this one is in Oak Park and not Chicago, but I love a good park and this one is on my list of faves!  Not only is it named after Hans Christian Andersen, but it has beautiful trees and a splash pad that is (again) simple and refreshing.  My youngest likes the little water fountains that shoot up from the ground, my oldest likes the mushroom-shaped sprinkler and they both run around having a blast.  The Oak Park area often sneaks into my lists of faves because it is a great area and easily accessible from the "L" and Metra train systems - great for an adventure!

Fountains of Fun

Technically these are not "splash pads" in the parks, but these fountains at some of Chicago's most loved landmarks are a great way to keep cool on those hot days!

  • Crown Fountain (201 E Randolph St; Millennium Park) - This work of public art made quite a splash when it was first unveiled in 2004.  These 50 ft tall towers show digital images of faces, almost as if they are conversing with one another across a granite reflecting pool, but when the mouths on faces purse their lips - watch out!  Out comes a spray of water from each tower which delights visitors of all ages on hot days. To this day this is one of my kids' favorite places to take visitors who have never been to Chicago before and let them get surprised by the spray! Note: the granite surface between the two towers can become a bit slippery at times, so consider water shoes!
  • Polks Bros Fountain (600 E Grand Ave; Navy Pier) - Gifted to Navy Pier in 2014, this park and fountain area makes for a grand entrance to Navy Pier, but it also makes for a great place to take a rest, have a picnic and cool down on a hot day!  This HUGE (over 12,000 feet!) fountain features 250 programmable jets that mimic the movement of waves, flocks of birds, schools of fish, and other mesmerizing scenes and I have seen people of all ages take in this refreshing work of art. 
  • Gallagher Way Pop Jets (3635 N Clark St; Wrigley Field) - The area outside of historic Wrigley Field has made quite the "splash" since added in 2017 (then known as The Park at Wrigley), becoming a local gathering spot for fans on game day and families throughout the year.  Every summer we are delivered a variety of family-fun events and when the pop-jets come on kids (and some pups) love to cool down with a run through the spray. 
  • Chicago Riverwalk Pop Jets (Riverwalk between Wells & LaSalle) A walk along the riverwalk is a great way to spend a summer day and if you find yourself between Wells & LaSalle you may find more than delicious snacks!  Hidden in the walkway are little pop jets that are a favorite spot to cool off on a hot day.  Grab a yummy treat from Sweet Home Gelato while you are there!

To find a park or playlot with a water feature near you, please check out the Chicago Park District website for a full, searchable list!