Arranged Alphabetically. Stared locations are great for photography!
AIRPLANE PARK has many pavilions, lots of climbing, handicapped accessible areas, large restrooms, water fountains, tennis courts, a skate rink, a soccer field, a gaga ball area, three playgrounds, restrooms, and a real airplane displayed at the front of the park. One of the large playgrounds is for younger children and the second is for older.
- Don't Miss: The nature themed climbing area.
- Great For: Playing with any age!
- Drawbacks: Dogs are not allowed.
ARLINGTON WETLANDS contains the restored wetlands where the Mississippi River once flowed. The path splits into different directions, but all the routes are short, flat, and looped. You can cross the wetlands on a floating boardwalk surrounded by water lilies and try and catch a glimpse of fish, turtles, or a frog. Be sure to read the informational placards posted along the boardwalk. Venture to the other end of the boardwalk to continue your hike through Arlington Wetland’s nature trail. Native prairie grasses, wildflowers, and trees enclose the natural-surface pathway.
- Don't Miss: the water lilies
- Great For: Peace, quiet
- Drawbacks: Not a great deal of shade.
BELK PARK is a 234-acre park with an 18-Hole Championship Golf Course, a lake for fishing, a clubhouse, picnic areas, a ball field, three playgrounds, restrooms, shelters, woodland, and open space.
- Trails: There is a one mile paved walkway around a lake that is stroller and pet friendly with benches to sit near the water.
- Don't Miss: the woods
- Great For: a hike with family and pets
- Drawbacks: not a great deal of wildlife
BETHALTO ARBORETUM winds through the Bethalto Arboretum, about a half-mile, shaded stroll through stands of oak, maple and over 80 other tree species. This 2.5 acres has wide paved flat paths with lots of shade. The park contains more than 150 species of trees and most are labeled. This location is also next to the Bethalto Splash Pad, baseball fields, skate park, and small playground. A fitness path, war memorial, and perennial garden are located on the grounds. . The arboretum was created in 1966, built on an abandoned railbed. An extension in 2020 continued the trail into Bethalto Park/ Central Park, terminating at Prairie Street. There larger vision is to continue to build on the old railroad corridor, extending it east to Alton.
- Trails: wide paved flat paths with lots of shade
- Don't Miss: The FREE splash pad and FREE Christmas stroll!
- Great For: A day outside with a short walk, the playground, and a nice splash pad.
- Drawbacks: Parking can be crowded during events.
CAHOKIA MOUNDS HISTORIC SITE has 154 steps to the top! Can you make it up? Monks Mound is the largest Earth Work in North America. Cahokia Mounds has a great deal to offer as the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city and a UNESCO site. The museum is open Thurs–Sun 9-5. Grounds are open dawn- dusk. Suggested donation for the interpretive center is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for students, and $15 for families. Leashed dogs are welcome outdoors.
- Trails: wide paved paths with varying amounts of shade
- Don't Miss: The climb up Monks Mound
- Great For: An interesting walk on a cool day
- Drawbacks: Some hills and no shade on many paths.
DROST PARK has lots of shade trees, several pavilions, a boat ramp, a soccer field, barbecue grills, picnic tables, benches, a community garden, a workout area, playgrounds, drinking fountains, restrooms, and a seven-acre lake with fish, turtles, and ducks. Also has 2 playgrounds for younger and older kids. Pet friendly.
- Trails: about three miles of paved trails connect to the regional trail system via the MCT Schoolhouse Trail.
- Great For: Watching animals
- Don't Miss: The seven acre lake
*GARDENS AT SIUE is a botanical garden featuring a half-mile paved walking path with lots of shade, a pergola, a wooden bridge, sculptures, and native trees. Butterfly, English cottage, wind sculpture, prairie, and Japanese themed gardens. A nice pond with benches. A great place for photos. Pet friendly.
- Trails: A variety of well labeled trails that are mostly paved with lots of shade, educational placards, and beautiful sites.
- Don't Miss: The bridges over the train tracks and beautiful art.
- Great For: A relaxing place to explore art with lots of room to play.
- Drawbacks: Can get crowded on beautiful weekends.
GLAZEBOOK PARK has 120-acres with playgrounds, 2 ponds with fish and frogs, concession stands, restrooms, rentable pavilions, a rentable gazebo, soccer fields and 3 miles of walking trails with shade trees. There are picnic tables under trees by a water fountain. Home to the Great Godfrey Corn Maze. Pet friendly. Little Free Library.
- Trails: wide paved paths with lots of shade
- Don't Miss: The relaxing views by the lake.
- Great For: A lot to see without having to drive.
- Drawbacks: Some litter.
GORDON MOORE PARK is a 704 acre park with tennis courts, a lake for fishing, ball diamonds, soccer fields, football fields, a 27 hole golf course, oriental garden, picnic area, nature trail, and rose garden. Also has restrooms, an interactive fountain, several playgrounds for all ages, a rose garden, bell tower, and oriental garden.
- Trails: paved trails with beautiful views
- Don't Miss: The oriental garden.
- Great For: Bringing a book or sketch pad and relaxing.
- Drawbacks: Difficult to meet a group. Be sure to give careful directions on which playground or field.
HOMER ADAMS PARK has three rentable shelters, a restroom facility, playground, and a demonstration garden provided by the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners program. I was impressed by the creative playscape that allowed my kids to climb and try however they were comfortable.
- Trails: No trails
- Don't Miss: the creative playscape.
- Great For: A change of pace in a calmer place.
- Drawbacks: A smaller park.
LEON CORLEW PARK has a splash pad, workout area, large pavilions, bathrooms, barbecue grills, a concessions area, large playground, and younger children's playground. The splash pad has features for young and older kids, and shaded benches.
- Trails: There is a small paved path around the splash pad and playground with some workout gear.
- Don't Miss: The huge dumping bucket.
- Great For: Hot days with various ages.
- Drawbacks: Slides are VERY slippery when wet.
NATURE INSTITUTE- JOHN M OLIN PRESERVE
has approximately 300 acres located along the bluffs of the Mississippi River with educational programming, a large playground, and ample parking. Rock Trail has a creek that is around 2-4 feet deep. Trails are open 8- 8pm, Tues.- Sun.
- Trails: 4 unpaved well marked trails. If using stroller, rubber tires necessary. Rock Trail has a steep hill.
- Don't Miss: Fantastic views of the Mississippi River and the sand box.
- Great For: Whatever you make it!
- Drawbacks: NOT pet friendly. Closed Mondays. Restroom are closed at 4pm on weekdays and on weekends.
RINDERER PARK is designed to remove barriers so ALL children can play side by side with their peers and families. Includes a glider, slides, musical elements, wheelchair-accessible teeter totter, lots of climbing equipment, and unique swings. There is also a dog park with obstacles, a veteran memorial, and restrooms.
- Trails: A stroller friendly walking trail with some shade.
- Don't Miss: The zip line!
- Great For: A playground that makes the grownups want to play.
- Drawbacks: Not a great deal of nature.
SILVER LAKE runs along the shore of a lake. Has a frisbee golf course, (small) climbing wall, archery range, man made waterfall/creek area, restrooms, ponds, sand volleyball court, playground, picnic shelters, fishing, and a boat ramp. Leashed pets are welcome.
- Trails: A 4+ mile wooded trail that is not stroller friendly.
- Don't Miss: The autumn leaves.
- Great For: A quiet walk in the woods.
- Drawbacks: Fishing Lines are often discarded in water, local ordinance doesn't allow for swimming.
TRI-TOWNSHIP PARK has a large pond with fish, ducks, and swans. Also has 4 playgrounds. Younger kids may enjoy the toddler sized playground on the south side of the lake while older kids may prefer the playground north of the lake or next to the skate park. Also has fishing, a pedestrian bridge, shaded benches, covered picnic areas, BBQ grills, paved stroller friendly walking trails, baseball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball, a gaga ball area, frisbee golf, a remote control car park, restrooms, and a skate park.
- Trails: Some small trails around the site.
- Don't Miss: The small petting zoo near the playground.
- Great For: A little something for all ages.
- Drawbacks: So much to do and so little time.
TREEHOUSE WILDLIFE CENTER is a place for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. Open to the public 365 days a year. Visitors view animals for FREE. Offers hands-on learning as well as an in-depth discussion to meet the needs of the group. Not Pet Friendly for the health and safety of on site wildlife. Open 10am-4pm, Fridays-Sundays.
- Trails: Some small trails around the site.
- Don't Miss: The guided tours and fantastic guides.
- Great For: An educational time with wildlife.
- Drawbacks: No pets allowed. (To protect injured animals.)
WATERSHED NATURE CENTER is a 40+ acre outdoor learning center with stroller friendly paved trails, dirt trails, elevated walks over wetlands, observation towers, an observation blind, lakes, prairies, forest, and an interpretive welcome center. Pet friendly.
- Trails: Paved with smaller and bigger loops.
- Don't Miss: The various educational programs and FREE discovery days.
- Great For: A day exploring the wilderness.
- Drawbacks: Can get muddy, but my kids LOVE it!
WILLOUGHBY FARM is a 30 acre farm with rest rooms, picnic shelters, a large garden, four hiking trails. Trails are not stroller friendly. There is an intricate play area with ride on toys, a wheel chair accessible swing, and kids' wheelbarrows. Also has cows, goats, ponies, bunnies, chickens, tractors, and a farm house.
- Trails: Great trails with fun hidden gems like a lending library, creeks, and a low ropes course
- Don't Miss: The animals and free range quail.
- Great For: Those who love playgrounds, animals, or trails.
- Drawbacks: Not a great deal of indoor entertainment.