in pursuit of the perfect park

I think I can finally put away those winter hats and gloves, snow boots, and winter coats.

It seems weird to be announcing this on the 30th of May, but with the weather these past few months, I am not sure that I should take anything for granted.  We seem to have jumped from 40-degrees-with-mixed-precipitation to 85-degrees-sunny-and-humid in the span of just a week.

Where did spring go?  In a few short days my kids will be out of school for the summer, we will be planning summer vacations, swim lessons, and going to baseball games.  I’ll be complaining about the humidity and wishing for those 70-degree days of spring…those days I swear we skipped over this year.

When spring does finally appear each year, whether a month early (remember 2012?), or fashionably late (2013), it inevitably gets me wanting to spend time outside.  And there’s nothing my kids love more than spending time outside at a park.  Of course, we love our local parks in Geneseo, and I love the quick and easy 5-minute drive that will get us to one of them.  But sometimes, when I’m feeling especially ambitious, I will make a special trip in to “the cities” to try out something new.  Something I love to do with our boys is to search out a park that we have never been to before.  The boys love going to a new park and exploring it.   Through the years, we’ve been to several of the larger parks in the area, as well as a few hidden gems.  I thought today I would share two of these “lesser known” favorites with you (and see if you have any ideas for our next park exploration adventure!)

Empire Park, Hampton

We love Empire Park.  Nestled between Route 84 and the Mississippi River, this park is guaranteed for at least an hour of fun for the whole family.  Situated right on the bike path, and with a boat dock and the Mississippi River backwater within a few hundred yards, we’ve often found ourselves losing a morning here.  The playground is, in a word, amazing.  Its all-wood construction is more than just your average playset.  This playground allows the kids to pretend they are climbing around in a castle (or, for my boys, a spaceship or naval battleship).


The unique play equipment just adds to the fun.  EmpirePark1-5_23_13


Phipps Prairie Park, 12th Street off Colona Road, Silvis

This park is truly a hidden gem.  A few blocks off the busy Colona Road (Avenue of the Cities) in Silvis, once you find it, it’s like you have entered a secret park, or even a different world.  It’s hard to believe that the busy Avenue of the Cities is just a block away.  It’s quiet here:  rarely have we had company when we come to this park.  This playground has some neat features that I haven’t seen at other local parks – including a climbing wall that connects the two play structures.   The boys love the trails that lead around the prairie and through the woods.  But the native prairie restoration is what sold it for me – it’s so beautiful, and so unexpected in the middle of the city.  I’m a sucker for a natural environment, and this park is just a slice of heaven 🙂  And yes, there are swings!  It’s essential for my 2.5 year old.


These are just two of our favorite parks in the Quad Cities.  What are your favorites?  Do you have a “hidden treasure” of a park in your neighborhood?  Help us find more parks to explore!

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8 Responses to in pursuit of the perfect park

  1. DesertMama May 30, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    Well, we just joined QCMB and had warm fuzzies that the blog values outdoor play! Given we have a 12m old, our play equip options are limited to spotting his curiosity around Rocket Park (McManus) for our tiny rambler (or any other park with our assistance). Playing in sand is key for our guy’s busy hands- so any suggestions – riverside or parkside – would be welcomed!

    • Anne May 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Welcome to the area! It’s fun to take the little ones to the park, but it sure is a lot of work. My youngest now wants mostly to swing, and swing, and swing.

      I’m not familiar with many “sandy” parks, but I will think about it more. Maybe someone else here will have some toddler-friendly parks.

      My mother in law just told me about another which she said has a great toddler play area, but I have to have her explain to me where it is. 🙂

    • [email protected] June 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

      Try Schweibert – We were just there this week and my one-year-old loved it. No mulch for him to eat and plenty to explore and see!

  2. amandastclair June 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Millinium Park (I think it is considered East Moline-not to far from Black Hawk College) is one of my favorite parks. I love it because it is all wooden and I don’t have to worry about my kids falling through the bars. The only disadvantage, it is a maze and it is hard to keep my eyes on them at all times through the wooden bars, but I’m kind of paranoid sometimes. It is safe and tons of fun.

  3. marieqcmb June 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Great post Anne! I am always looking to try new parks! The link below has a few parks that we visit frequently and in the comments section there are more recommendations!

    • [email protected] June 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing this link. I hadn’t even heard of some of these parks!

    • Kim[email protected] June 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      This link and list is awesome. Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t even heard of some of these.

  4. [email protected] June 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your favorites! My little one is just old enough to “sort of” enjoy parks so we’re doing a park tour in June. So far, we’ve been to Rocket Park (I think that’s what it’s called), Schwiebert Park in Rock Island and Stephens Park in Moline. They were actually all really fun. Schwiebert held my one-year-old’s attention for an entire hour, so I think I’ll call that a winner!

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