Often, family attractions knock our socks off. When we discovered Adventure Playground in Aurora, something even better happened: We couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces.
Adventure Playground is a new feature of Blackberry Farm, the Fox Valley Park District’s scenic living-history museum located on Aurora’s far west side. For families living in Chicago, this is quite a hike. But take our word: It’s worth the drive. Its rustic farm-inspired design, fun interactive features, and sheer size make it unlike any other playground we’ve seen.
Adventure Playground is designed to look like a historic farm settlement. There are several multi-level buildings connected by climbing decks, slides, rope tunnels and catwalk-style bridges. Maze-like, but not claustrophobic, the layout prompts you to dash from one enticing environment to another. Swoosh down the tunnel slide from the yellow-shingled house. Climb through a suspended net to go from one barn building to another. Break away to glide on the zip line attached to a towering silo next to the playground. And that’s just the start.
The playground is marked as being best suited for ages 5 and up. However the majority of the structure is big enough for parents to walk through comfortably, so younger tots should do fine with a little hand holding. There is a toddler-friendly slide next to the main playground structure, should younger ones want to cut loose.
The Hands-On Fun
Interactive areas of the playground flex kids’ muscles and minds. In one lofted room there is a rope hung from the ceiling; little monkeys can scurry up safely because the floor is padded. If making noise is more their thing, head to the little balcony where metal pots, pans and spoons hang from the wall. Go ahead and bang away.
Throughout the playground, colorful panels teach kids about fruits, veggies, grains and more. These mini exhibit areas prompt them to answer questions about nutritional foods and open boxes to uncover the answers. To add a bit of history, black-and-white photos on the walls depict actual farms from olden times.
The Other Attractions
The playground may be the biggest attraction at Blackberry Farm, but it’s not the only worthwhile one. You can easily spend an entire day here, starting by visiting the replicas of pioneer buildings (you’ll find everything from a blacksmith shop to a weaver’s studio to a one-room schoolhouse — all operated by costumed interpreters). There are also pony rides, paddleboats, a merry-go-round, tractor-pulled wagon rides, a fishing zone, kid-sized pedal tractors and more. Another highlight is the steam engine replica train that takes you for a loop around a pond. All of these attractions are included in the price of admission.
Food and drinks are available for purchase at the concession stand. While there are plenty of tables and chairs, we recommend picnicking on the pretty, shaded grasslands; you can bring your own food into the park.
Here’s to making the trip!
Adventure Playground at Blackberry Farm
100 S. Barnes Rd.
Admission is $8 for adults; $7 for children. Aurora and North Aurora residents get discounted admission of $5 for adults; $4.50 for children (must present a photo ID); kids under 2 are free
Open daily through August 25 and weekends only through Sept. 29. The Farm is open on Labor Day. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30 am-3:30 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 am-5:00 pm.
Would your kiddo love this spot? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon
Photos: Courtesy of Blackberry Farm/Fox Valley Park District