Local family finds adventure in Grayslake parks

Visiting different parks in Grayslake came from goal to spend 1,000 outside

GRAYSLAKE – What started as a simple attempt to spend more time outside has turned into so much more.

When Grayslake resident Victoria Esmail committed to spend 1,000 hours outside with her family, she started looking for new destinations. Visiting different parks in Grayslake seemed like a reasonable goal.

Esmail turned to the Grayslake Community Park District for inspiration. The district maintains 33 parks with 23 playgrounds in Grayslake and Hainesville.

“I wanted to try new parks, see new parts of town, and give my son a bit of adventure in a time when adventure is harder to come by,” Esmail said in a news release.

The Grayslake Parks Challenge began.

So far, the Esmail family has visited 16 parks.

“We designate Monday afternoon as a park day. Sometimes it’s a new one, sometimes it’s a repeat of a favorite,” Esmail said.

Jones Island has emerged as a favorite destination. Located on Grays Lake, Jones Island Park, 243 Harvey Ave. in Grayslake, features a playground, beach, fishing, boat launch for canoes or kayaks, sand volleyball courts, a picnic shelter and ice skating (seasonally).

“My son can easily explore the playground and wander the water areas. He also loves all the birdhouses,” Esmail said.

For others considering the Grayslake Parks Challenge, Esmail’s recommendation is to “Simply start! Pick one of the parks listed on the Grayslake Park District’s website – maybe it’s one you drive by, maybe it’s the closest, maybe it’s one you have seen photos of – and get started.”

The interactive park map at glpd.com makes it easy to find parks to explore. Search by park name or filter by feature so you know a little more about the park before you go. Looking for somewhere with a basketball court? Try Hunter’s Ridge, 1233 Meadowlark Lane, or Tooterville, 411 Signal Lane. Need to work on your backhand? Try the tennis courts at Cambridge Park, 291 Buckingham Drive.

Since beginning the Grayslake Parks Challenge, Victoria Esmail and her husband, Tyler, welcomed baby Finley to the family. Although she’s only a month old, Finley already has visited a number of parks with her big brother Jaxson, who is 3.

Esmail hopes sharing her story will encourage other families to get outside and enjoy what the Grayslake Park District has to offer.