Crystal Lake Park District

Crystal Lake has an amazing park district. The park district was formed in 1921 with the idea of preserving public access to lakes and beaches in Crystal Lake. The Crystal Lake Park District system includes 42 parks covering 1,400 acres. Some of the parks included in this are the Nature Center, Three Oaks Recreation Center and Vetarn Acre Park. Whether it’s trying a new activity, sport, or just enjoying nature the Crystal Lake Park District strives to create opportunities and experiences for the entire community.

The Nature Center

The Nature Center is a wonderful place for families to explore and learn about nature. Their mission is to provide high quality, nature-based recreation opportunities, including formal and informal education programs. As well as preserve and restore native ecosystems. The nature center is open all year long, offering seasonal exhibits and hands-on activities. Some of the exhibits include a habitat wall and aquarium. There are two special exhibits the Nature Center puts together. The first is a bee and butterfly display. It opens Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day. There are plenty of flora to attract butterflies as well as displays showing their life cycle. Visitors can also peer through a see-through bee hive. This allows visitors to watch how a live bee hive works in action. The other amazing exhibit is a fossil collection of life found in the Illinois area. The collection was donated by Paul Friend. This collection consists of Mazon Creek fossils. These fossils are world famous for their quality and diversity. The fossils are from plants and animals that lived roughly 300 million years ago. There are many wonderful things to do at the Nature Center.

Three Oaks Recreation Center

Three Oaks Recreation Center is a perfect place for thrill-seekers and sun tanners alike. The Park District reclaimed the long-abandoned Vulcan Lake quarry and transformed it into an amazing recreational center for everyone. For visitors seeking adventure and thrills there are two fabulous options. Three Oaks offers a 32 acre, cable wakeboard park. Named the Quarry Cable park, this area offers next-generation wakeboarding. The area includes jumps and other features. The other extreme offering is scuba diving. Certified divers are free to explore the Scuba Zone. If a visitor is looking to try something new, Three Oaks also offers Scuba lessons. For those visitors looking for more relaxing options there is still plenty to do. There is incredible fishing, accessible off the pier or buy renting a boat. There are plenty of picnic areas or an outdoor dining patio for visitors looking to enjoy a meal or beverage. Three Oaks offers a kid friendly splash pad as well as plenty of swimming areas. Three Oaks Recreation Center has options for everyone in the family.

Veteran Acres

Veteran Acres is the crown jewel of the Crystal Lake Park District. For active visitors this park has a variety of athletic fields and recreational areas. There are multiple softball and baseball diamonds used for recreation and leagues. Veterans Acres has a large splash pad for the summer months and a great sledding hill in the winter. For nature lovers this park has 300 acres of Nature Preserve. Throughout the nature preserve there are miles of cross country skiing and hiking trails.