Keep Your Dog On-Leash 

It may be tempting to let your dog run off-leash on the beautiful new lawns at The Preserve of Highland Park.  Though The Preserve may look like a traditional park with its paved trails and mowed lawns, it is a natural area and home to hundreds of wild birds and animals.   To make sure our new park is fun and safe for everyone, we require that dogs always be kept on a leash.

There is evidence that dogs off-leash can be detrimental to wildlife.  Most birds and other wildlife perceive dogs as predators. Impacts include: 

  1. Displacement – The presence of dogs causes wildlife to move away, temporarily, or permanently reducing the amount of available habitat in which to feed, breed and rest. Animals become less active during the day to avoid dog interactions. Furthermore, the scent of dogs repels wildlife, and the effects remain after the dogs are gone. 
  2. Disturbance – Animals are alarmed and cease their routine activities. This increases the amount of energy they use, while simultaneously reducing their opportunities to feed. Repeated stress causes long-term impacts on wildlife including reduced reproduction and growth, suppressed immune system and increased vulnerability to disease and parasites.

It is against City law and Park District ordinance to have a dog off-leash in any of our parks, except in designated areas. Dogs off-leash are not in your control. They may:

There are several options for off-leash fun in the community. The Park District of Highland Park has two dog parks available to registered members:

Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park at Larry Fink Memorial Park – open year-round (701 Deer Creek Parkway)
A relaxed park-like atmosphere with two off-leash exercise areas, depending on the size of your dog.

Highland Park Golf Learning Center– open mid-December through mid-March* (2205 Skokie Valley Highway)
A large outdoor venue for your dog to run off some of that cabin fever energy.

Virtually every community has a leash law. In Highland Park, the law requires that dogs be kept on a leash on public property, including our parks. The law intends to protect the health and safety of the public and to protect your pet. A leash is commonly referred to as “Your Pet’s Lifeline” and protects your pet from harm and potentially harming other people or animals in the area. While you can train certain dogs to avoid the busy roads, stop and wait for their owner at corners, and even return to their side at command, there is always the chance that a dog could act impulsively. The safest way and legal way to walk your dog is on a leash.

Other Reasons to Always Use a Dog Leash

Become a Dog Park Member!

Dog Park Membership offers countless benefits for your dog. One of the most important benefits a dog park provides a dog is to exercise both his body and mind. In an open off-leash space, your dog has the chance to run around freely, chasing after balls and other dogs as much as his heart desires. He can socialize with humans and other dogs, which helps maintain healthy social skills. Like people, dogs are social creatures, and they enjoy being around their own kind. Your dog can practice his communication skills with other dogs and gives him practice reading other dogs. Practicing and mastering these skills helps your dog from developing fear or aggression problems around other dogs. This is especially true if you have a young dog that is eager to learn. And, not only is it fun for your four-legged friend, but it’s also fun for you! You can run around and exercise with your dog, practice off-leash training, talk to and bond with other dog owners, and enjoy the time watching your dog have the time of his life.

The Park District of Highland Park has two dog parks available to registered members:

Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park at Larry Fink Memorial Park – open year-round (701 Deer Creek Parkway)
A relaxed park-like atmosphere with two off-leash exercise areas, depending on the size of your dog.

Highland Park Golf Learning Center– open mid-December through mid-March* (2205 Skokie Valley Highway)
A large outdoor venue for your dog to run off some of that cabin fever energy.

Be a Pooper Scooper!

Anyone who’s a dog owner has been there. You’ve been playing fetch with your dog for the last half hour, and just when it’s time to start walking back home, he crouches down and leaves a big pile. And then comes the dreaded moment when you know that it’s time to clean up. But wouldn’t it be so much easier to just leave the mess? No one will know it was you…

But if you care about your health, your dog’s health and your community, it’s imperative that you clean up after your dog. Here’s why:

We all get tired and sluggish, and doggie droppings are quite unpleasant – so we don’t blame you for not wanting to pick up after your dog. Because we care about you, your dog and our environment, we put together a list of tips to help make clean-up time a little bit easier:

Be a Dog Park Member!

The best option to give you and your dog safe exercise is to become a member of our dog parks. Membership to a dog park is a wonderful way for you and your dog to play and socialize freely in a safe environment with other dogs and owners. In Highland Park, the Debbie Gottlieb Dog Park (year round) and Highland Park Golf Learning Center Dog Park (mid-Dec – mid-March) feature two off-leash exercise areas – one for big dogs and one for small dogs.  Our dog parks are available to registered dog park members.  Learn more and become a member.

We invite all residents to celebrate Family Health & Fitness Day, and discover we are building a strong, healthy and resilient community through the power of parks and recreation. To celebrate, simply gather with family and friends to get active at any Park District park, beach or facility.

Community members can participate by doing the following: 

The Park District of Highland Park offers year-round opportunities for families and individuals to stay active and healthy. In fact, Living close to parks and other recreation infrastructure is consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth. Moreover, parks provide a connection to nature, which studies demonstrate relieves stress, tightens interpersonal relationships, and improves mental health.  

We always think of summer through rose-colored glasses – the nice weather, holiday celebrations, beach vacations, lounging around with a tall cold drink, and a great book.  But, summer can also mean a lot of stress if you try to pack in everything you can into this short 3-month season. Take some time to de-stress your summer!

According to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to relieve stress is to get active. Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you’re not an athlete or you’re out of shape, exercise is still a great stress reliever. 

There is no time like the present to get moving!

Here’s a bucket list of 10 “must-do” family outdoor activities at the Park District of Highland Park:

  1. Walk 100 miles. Challenge each other to walk 100 miles over the summer.   The first one to meet the goal gets a coveted prize.
  2. Bike the Parks. Do a bike tour of our parks.  Bike all the parks in one day or split up the town and tour over several days.
  3. Play a Round of Mini-Golf.  Head over to the Highland Park Golf Learning Center and challenge each other to a game.
  4. Take an Outdoor Fitness Class. The Recreation Center of Highland Park is offering outdoor family fitness opportunities.
  5. Play Tennis or Pickleball.  We have tennis courts at nine different park sites throughout the city.  Dedicated pickleball courts are also located at Danny Cunniff and Woodridge Parks. 
  6. Go for a Swim.  We offer opportunities to swim at both Rosewood Beach and the Hidden Creek AquaPark.
  7. Stand-up Paddle or Learn to Sail.  The North Shore Yacht Club provides opportunities to learn how to sail, paddle, or kayak on Lake Michigan.
  8. Take Your furry friend to the Park. Play “off-leash” with your dog at the Debbie Beitler Dog Park.
  9. Play a Game of Basketball.  Outdoor basketball courts are located at numerous park sites throughout the Park District. 
  10. Explore Nature.  The Heller Nature Center is a 97-acre preserve with more than three miles of trails to explore. 

As the weather gets cooler, finding activities for the entire family might be getting harder.  Check out these five fun activities to do at the Park District this weekend:

1. Walk Around The Preserve of Highland Park

Bundle up and take your pooch on-leash for a walk around The Preserve of Highland Park.  Temporary informational signs are posted throughout the park that detail the park’s new amenities.  And, check out the new turtle climbing playground!

Stay up to date on The Preserve of Highland Park project

2. Public Ice Skating is Back!

Meet friends and lace up your skates for public skating at Centennial Ice Arena.   Public skate is open  Saturdays between 11:25am-12:10pm.  If you have time during the weekday, take a public skate lunch break Mon, Tue, Thu, or Fri between 11am-1pm.  

If you have your own skates, it only costs $6 for children and $7 for adults.  Need skates?  Only pay $3 more.

Register for public skating online or in person

3. Get Your Sweat On

It’s time to get in shape before indulging in those holiday sweets, treats, and feasts!  Did you know, the Recreation Center of Highland Park offers All Access 7-Day Passes for only $20?  Passes include access to the fitness floor, Group Ex classes, and lap swimming.  

Purchase the All Access 7-Day Pass

4. Read & Play at Heller Nature Center

The whole family will enjoy Constance’s Story Trail at Heller Nature Center.  Just follow the walking trail while reading our featured story: The Rainbow Fish.  While you’re at it, discover nature and play at Wander Woods – a free play natural area designed to nurture a child’s sense of wonder and discovery.

More information on Heller Nature Center

5. Indoor Swimming at the Rec Center

Not ready to let go of summer?  Join us for a splash at our indoor open swim times on Saturdays and Sundays between 12:30-5:30pm.  It’s only $6/person for residents and $8/person for non-residents. 

Learn more about Open Swim

Membership to a dog park is a wonderful way for you and your dog to play and socialize freely in a safe environment with other dogs and owners. Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park at Larry Fink Memorial Park is Highland Park’s year-round dog park that features two off-leash exercise areas – one for big dogs and one for small dogs.  This park is available to registered dog park members. 

The decision to get a membership to a dog park requires careful consideration on your part to ensure you and your dog have a safe, healthy experience.

Membership is a Must to Enter

If you are considering taking your dog to a dog park, you must be prepared to become a member and keep your membership current.  Membership ensures that your dog and all the dogs in the park are fully immunized and have a current City of Highland Park rabies tag number.  Only current members are allowed into the dog park for everyone’s safety in the park.

Is Your Dog a Social Animal?

It is important to know how your dog acts and plays with other dogs and humans before committing to a dog park membership. If your dog tends to bully or intimidate other dogs or not interact well with other humans, a dog park membership is not a good choice.

Once you have decided that you and your dog are ready to commit to a dog park membership, you should also familiarize yourself with proper dog park etiquette and be prepared to follow that etiquette every time you visit the dog park.

Exercise Your Dog Before Heading to the Dog Park

Believe it or not, you and your dog will have a better experience if you exercise him/her before you go there.  Running off a little steam beforehand will make him more attentive to your commands and a calmer, happier playmate for the other dogs in the dog park.

On-Leash on the Outside

Your dog is only allowed off the leash when you are both safely in the dog park. Keep your dog on a leash and under your control to and from the dog park.

Size Up the Area

If you have a small dog, take him to the “Small Dog (under 25 pounds)” area of the park.  Dogs over 25 pounds should go in the “Large Dog” area.  Sizing up the best area for your pooch allows your dog to play with dogs his size, and no injuries can happen.

Unleash the Hound & Remove Gear

Once you have safely entered the dog park, remove all of your dog’s gear, including choke or prong collars. A plain buckle collar is fine to leave on while at the park. Most dogs innocently nip and nibble at each other’s necks and shoulders during play. Having metal contraptions where another dog is roughly shoving its mouth is inviting broken teeth, broken jaws, broken paws and legs, and potentially a huge dog fight if a dog can’t detach itself from your dog’s neck. Also, take off your dog’s leash once you are safely in the dog park. A dog on a leash is essentially a tripping hazard, especially if the leashed dog begins to play. In addition, dogs on leashes can feel more insecure because they know they can’t escape if they need to, which can trigger fights.

Unplug & Play with Your Pooch

Your number one priority at the dog park should be your dog. Unplug and enjoy the time with your dog; your dog will be happier and safer for it.

Never Let Strangers In

For your safety, your dog’s safety, and the safety of your fellow members and their dogs, you should never open the door or allow non-registered members into the park.  Members must always have their Dog Park key fobs with them.  Even if they say they are a member, don’t let them in

Poop Scoop

For the cleanliness and sanitation of the park, you must clean up after your dog. It makes for a better park experience when the facility is clean.

This fall, we encourage you to safely explore our beaches by following these important guidelines:

It’s that time of year!  Heller Honey is now on sale! Purchase your honey at Heller Nature Center (Mon and Wed, 8:30am-5pm) or at the Recreation Center of Highland Park (Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat and Sun 7am-1pm). It’s $11/jar and $0.25/honey stick or five for $1.

Heller Honey is 100% natural and produced by our very own Heller bees. Try out these yummy kid-friendly Heller honey recipes to get the most out of this sweet local treat. Enjoy!!!

  1. Honey Apple Nachos: Give your nachos a makeover and swap out chips and cheese for apples and honey! Cut your apple slices nice and thin and then cover them with Heller honey and your kids’ toppings of choice. It’s a healthy alternative to your traditional nachos, and a sweet treat for snack time!
  2. Honey Cereal Bars: These are great on the go! Grab your kids’ favorite cereal, ¾ cup of peanut butter, and ½ cup of Heller honey. Throw the peanut butter and honey into a saucepan and let them meltdown until they’re fully combined. Once that’s done, take it off the heat and mix in your cereal until it is evenly coated. Press that mixture into an 8×8 pan and refrigerate it for 1 hour before serving them to your kiddos!
  3. Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups: These 3-ingredient roll-ups will have your family buzzing! All you need is 2-3 cups of your family’s fruit of choice, 2-3 tablespoons of Heller honey, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Throw those 3 ingredients into a food processor and blend. Once smooth, pour your mixture onto a pan lined with plastic wrap and spread into a ¼ of an inch thickness. Let those dehydrate in the oven (what temperature?) for about 4-6 hours, and you have your very own fruit roll-ups!
  4. Honey Oatmeal Energy Bites: These no-bake bites are sure to make you the Queen Bee of the neighborhood! Combine 1 ½ cups of rolled oats, ¼ cup of honey, 1/3 cup of cashew butter, and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Let this mixture chill out in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then roll them into bite-sized balls. Finish them off with a quick roll in some shredded coconut and enjoy!
  5. Honey Fruit Dip: This recipe is as easy as 1-2-3…which is exactly how many ingredients you need to make it! All you need to do for this yummy fruit dip is combine ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup of peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons of Heller honey. It’s really that easy!

1. Move Your Body

Being stuck at a desk for 8-10 hours a day is a one-way ticket to the chiropractor. One of your biggest goals every day should be to get up and get your blood flowing; the more often you can move around, the better! Your body needs to release tension from being endlessly hunched over your keyboard, and your eyes could definitely use a break from the screen while you’re at it!

2. Hydration Is Key

The fountain of youth may be closer than you think…while we don’t know of any magical potions, water can actually work in mysterious ways! Kicking off the day with a glass of water not only boosts your energy but also helps with digestion and enhances your skin health. If that doesn’t convince you to load up on H20, this next fun fact definitely will. Did you know that hydrating all day long can actually boost your metabolism? That means that burning some extra calories can be as easy as refilling your water bottle a few times a day!

3. Make Sure to Hit All the Food Groups

Summer is all about grilling and eating fresh, so don’t forget to get some fruits and veggies in the mix! They are the best source of vitamins and minerals and are full of prebiotic fiber and antioxidants. Making sure your palette is always packed with these fresh foods can lower blood pressure, reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke, lessen digestive problems, and even prevent some kinds of cancer. Nothing is better than a fruit or veggie salad picnic at one of our parks!

4. Catch Some Z’s

With so much to do and what feels like so few hours in the day, too often we trade our precious beauty sleep for some extra loads of laundry and binging the newest season of our favorite shows. While it may seem like a fair trade in the moment, your body needs to recharge, otherwise you will head into the next day like a zombie with no REM sleep. We need 7-9 hours of sleep to be fully functioning the following day, and the sleep that counts the most occurs from 8pm to midnight. Get off your screens a few hours before bedtime and get some quality sleep!

5. Exercise Regularly

While it’s not news that exercise is good for you, you might be surprised at the little ways it can improve your everyday life. Getting 150 minutes of exercise every week can give your daily energy levels a huge boost and release pent-up tension and stress within your muscles. This increased energy can help you avoid a mid-day slump and might just make that endless to-do list seem a little more realistic! The Recreation Center of Highland Park is the perfect place to get your steps in and offers a variety of ways to get your sweat on. The hours of operation are Monday-Thursday: 5:30am–7:30pm (Closed noon-2pm for cleaning), Friday: 5:30am–2pm and Saturday & Sunday: 7am–1pm.