Ledges State Park has some of the prettiest scenery in the area, with unique, shallow water crossings over the main road. There are several challenging trails as well as a very accessible one. This is a perfect place to go “creek stomping” with pets and/or kids – be sure to check the DNR website for flooding closings before you go. The main canyon road is currently closed, but read my summer blog post for where to park and walk up! There is easy creek splashing access here, you can see more specific details about how to get into the water in this post.
McHenry Park and Sprayground is really unique and fun – the sprayground drains to a little manmade play stream so bring something small to float down it. There is a conventional playset as well as a ‘natural’ playground with logs to climb and play on. The paved trail runs beside it, with an overlook of downtown and the lake.
MacRae Park has a great view of the downtown skyline, and is one of the area’s oldest parks. The pond is stocked with fish, along with a fountain. There is only a set of swings in the way of a playground, but the huge, rolling hills and big beautiful trees offer lots of entertainment.