Waukegan Park District

Waukegan Park District Bowen Playground
Forest Findings

What's your wingspan? How does a spider do that? What is a giant puffball? Where can you find a prairie trillium? Learn all this and more at the NEW Bowen Park Playground!

The largest playground renovation ever undertaken by the Park District, this $1 million project results in one of the most modern, interactive playgrounds in all of Lake County. This project is funded in part by the State of Illinois Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant Program.

The theme for the new playground is "Forest Findings". The overall layout offers tiered play areas arranged on the northwest hillside of Bowen Park. Fun and learning will go hand-in-hand as children and their families enjoy modern playground amenities, combined with several environmental learning stations that represent a forest ecosystem. Parents and kids alike will also enjoy the six-station fitness/exercise trail located on the perimeter of the playground.

Colorful and easy-to-read interpretive signage highlights each unique play area, such as the forest outlook tower, which represents the forest canopy. Children can climb to the top of the tower and slide down the forty-foot tunnel slides to the forest floor.

The area between the forest canopy and the forest floor is packed full of activities, including: a spider web climber, an owl overlook, a log to climb and dish swings.

The lower part of the playground represents the forest floor, where children can splash in the water spray area, observe animal footprints, sit on the fungi bench and play beneath the giant trillium. Also included is an outdoor stage ideal for classroom-style discussions.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony took place Saturday, June 7, 2008. There were an estimated 300 people in attendance. Light refreshments were served. It was a great day for all.

Waukegan Park District’s Bowen Park was featured in the December 2008 issue of the National Parks and Recreation Magazine.
The article, “Forest Findings: Bridging the Gap between Children and Nature” describes how Bowen Park’s newly renovated playground engages children in nature-based play through interaction with a model ecosystem. To view or download the article about our award-winning playground (Illinois Landscape Architects Honor Award 2008) click here.

Click on each picture to see it enlarged.

Spider Climber

Spider Climber

Owl Overlook


Allegro Spinner

Allegro Spinner

Dish Swings

Dish Swings

Water Spray Area

Water Spray

Forest Meadow (toddler area)

Forest Medow Toddler Area

Tunnel Slides

Tunnel Slides

Forest Outlook Tower

Forest Tower


Fitness/Exercise Trail


Log Climber


Outdoor Stage


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~ eParkDistrict.com