Take a break from the slide, monkey bars and teeter totter routine. These unstructured playgrounds bring play to a whole other level with zip lines, rope swings and giant logs to climb. Kids will use their creativity as well as their muscles to explore and build new worlds. Flip through the pics to find one near you!

Wander Woods Nature Play Space – Highland Park, Il

This play area located within the Heller Nature Center was built in conjunction with the Chicago Wilderness organization to encourage wonder and discovery in outdoor play. Nestled in the trees, children find simple one word suggestions and basic tools such as water, mud, sticks, wheelbarrows and shovels, and then they are set free to play as they wish. Hide out in the teepee to cool off on a hot day or climb the tree house to see what the birds see. Let the creativity and messiness begin!

Good to know: The nature center offers tons of programs for little explorers and after-school classes for kids to get them excited about the world around them.

Online: pdhp.org/heller-nature-center

photo: Wander Woods


Know of an unstructured playground near you? Give it a shout-out in the comments below!

— Kate Loweth & Gabby Cullen