Destination Playgrounds: Oz Park
One of the biggest challenges as a parent or caregiver is keeping the children busy during the summer months. While it is always convenient to go to the park/playground nearest to home, sometimes it’s necessary to switch it up a little. This will be the first in a number of posts about some of the best parks and playgrounds around Chicago – the ones that are worth the trip.
Oz Park is located in Lincoln Park just north of Lincoln Park High School at the intersection of Lincoln and Webster. It received its name back in the 1970’s as homage to L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz and resident of Lincoln Park back in the late 1800’s. Over the last two decades, the neighborhood has funded the placement of statues around the park of the stories main characters: the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and of course, Dorothy and Toto.
“Dorothy’s Playlot” is a enormous and fascinating playground that is made entirely of wood, which is rare to see these days. There have been a few upgrades to plastic equipment, but the main play area is a winding, castle-like scene with nooks and bridges for children to climb (and hide) in. It does now have a rubber surface, which I prefer much more than the woodchips you see at some other older parks. Most importantly, it has lots of SHADE, which covers most of the playground and makes it a good place to bring children even on hot, sunny days.
Another great section of Oz Park is the “Emerald Garden”, which is a beautiful landscaped garden, meant for relaxation and a more serene atmosphere than the chaotic playground right next to it. It has many benches and is a popular spot for sunbathers and readers.
Other features of Oz Park are tennis courts, a great running/biking path, and its very own hot dog stand. A Dairy Queen / Orange Julius is also conveniently nearby at Webster and Lincoln.
If you want to learn a little more history about the park, the Chicago History Museum is doing a walking tour of Oz Park on July 1.