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The Park District of Highland Park is home to beautiful natural areas, historic parks and award winning beaches that physically define much of Highland Park’s physical character.  Together, these areas provide a unique mix of ecological, recreational, aesthetic and educational value that is an integral part of the historical, cultural and natural resources of the community. Find your closest park and start exploring TODAY!

Park Listing

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The Park District of Highland Park operates and manages over 700 acres of land in 44 park areas including three off-leash dog parks and four lakefront beaches.  Explore the district’s unique historic parks.  For a complete listing of parks, locations and amenities, click here

Visitor Information

  • Parks are open from dawn to dusk
  • Play at your own risk
  • Dogs must be leashed and cleaned up after in all areas not designated as off-leash dog parks
  • No smoking (including e-cigarettes), firearms, or alcohol are allowed on park property
  • Permits are required for groups of twelve or more. For permit information, call 847.579.3125
  • Golfing is prohibited in parks
  • No motorized vehicles on grass or paths
  • Glass containers are prohibited in parks
  • Dumping and littering are prohibited in our parks. 
  • The Park District of Highland Park utilizes Strike Guard, a state-of-the-art lightning detection system that sounds when lightning is in the area. Strike Guard sensors are located at Sunset Valley Golf Course, Hidden Creek AquaPark, Deer Creek/Larry Fink Memorial Park, West Ridge Park, Park Avenue Boating Facility, Centennial Ice Arena, Sunset Woods Park, Recreation Center of Highland Park, and Heller Nature Center.
    Please take appropriate shelter when the warning signals are activated. If the weather is threatening but no warning signal is heard or seen, use good judgment and clear the area. Do not wait for the warning signal to activate.
  • In parks with athletic fields:
    • Permit holders have priority use as scheduled
    • The use of ball fields is prohibited if field conditions are unable to support play.

If you see equipment that is broken or a hazard in any part of the park, please call the safety hotline at 847.831-3968

For emergencies, call 911

For more information and a complete listing of park, rules go to Park Ordinance Information

Progress is in Progress! 

The Park District will regularly post improvement updates happening in the parks. Below is a list of scheduled and/or ongoing projects.

Please contact with any questions.

Community Park

Highland Park Woods Restoration 

Contractors for the District’s Natural Areas Program are removing invasive buckthorn shrubs in Highland Park Woods, the woodland area on the east side of Community Park.  

Park District staff and volunteers have been working since last year to restore this area. Contractors will continue this work by cutting down buckthorn and burning it in piles. Natural Areas staff and volunteers will continue to work adjacent to contractors to enhance this area.

With the removal of the invasive species and the return of sunlight to the woodland floor, we look forward to enjoying the regeneration of native wildflowers this spring! If you are interested in becoming involved with the Natural Areas Program’s volunteer workdays, please contact Liz Ricketts at


Sunset Woods Park

Sunset Woods Tree Care

Trees such as Swamp White Oak are more adaptable to wet soil conditions.

This summer, we experienced a sudden decline in the health of many trees in Sunset Woods Park. Trees that leafed out fully this Spring suddenly turned brown with dead leaves in the summer heat.  Park District staff consulted with tree care consultants as well as the City of Highland Park’s Forestry Department to track down the cause. We identified a soil-borne fungus named Armillaria as a chief culprit.  This fungus exists naturally in our soils. Our park trees normally are adapted to its presence. But its population increased with the extremely wet Spring. Trees, young and old, already stressed by the soggy soils were not able to cope.

Arborists have recently found that an application of phosphonates (a naturally occurring molecule related to phosphorus) has promise as an effective preventative treatment. It also has fertilizing benefits to promote better tree health.  This fall the Park District took steps to slow the spread of this condition in Sunset Woods. Vulnerable trees were treated using a hand-held spray around the bark and root crown (where the tree meets the soil).  This treatment may be repeated in Spring.

Trees most susceptible are located in areas where water tends to pond.  There have been early signs of Armillaria conditions showing up in other areas in Lake County.  In Sunset Woods, the trees affected include the White Oak, Sugar Maple, and Red Oak.

Fortunately, many of the trees in the park are Swamp White Oaks that are tolerant of wet conditions.  Also, the District has been proactive about planting new trees.  For example, since 2015, Arbor Day volunteers have been planting 20 trees a year in the park.  We added more trees this fall, including species that are more tolerant of wet conditions such as Swamp White Oak, Ohio Buckeye, and Hackberry.

Questions? Please contact Rebecca Grill, Natural Areas Manager, at 847-579-4087.

For more information about Armillaria click here.


Preventative treatment was completed in October.  Treated trees have been numbered and mapped for ongoing monitoring.

Aging Play Structure Removal

Portions of the Sunset Woods Park 21st Century Playland are fenced off and closed to the public due to the removal of the Quadsphere play equipment.  The equipment was over 20 years old and showing excessive wear and fatigue.

For the past several years, park crews have been able to make small repairs to the Quadsphere.  However, on the most recent inspection this week, crews found issues with the structure that cannot be repaired.    In addition, due to the equipment’s age, replacement parts are not available for the equipment.

For these reasons, the structure was removed.  All other park elements at Sunset Woods Park are open to the public.

Renovation of the 21st Century Playland and Titanic Tides Tot lot playgrounds are goals of the Park District’s GreenPrint Master Plan. Please stay tuned for planning efforts in the future.

Questions? Please contact Director of Parks & Planning, Dan Voss at 847-579-3130


For more information on other larger projects visit the Capital Project Update page.

General Park Use Permits

Groups of 12 or more wishing to use park grounds or picnic in the park are required to secure a permit prior to their visit. There is designated group picnicking in Danny Cunniff, Larry Fink Memorial, Rosewood and Sunset Woods Parks. Sunset Woods Park has two open-sided pavilions available for use by groups of up to 100, and Danny Cunniff Park has a pavilion for groups of 50 or less. The District’s park ranger and City police patrol and check for valid permit holders. Only residents may make reservations beginning Monday, March 6. Open reservations start Wednesday, April 5.

 Permit Process  & Fees
Applications for permits must be done in-person at West Ridge Center, 636 Ridge Road, at least 10 days prior to the picnic date to secure a permit. Application hours:

Mon, Wed, Thu 9am-5pm
Tue 8am-6:30pm


Due to heavy rains in the area and for the safety of our residents, Moraine Dog Beach is closed.  Portions of the path leading to the beach have eroded. 

NEW! For the safety of our dog park members and their pets, an electronic fob system has been installed at the Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park at Larry Fink Memorial Park.

Two dog parks are 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.
  • Moraine Beach – currently closed 
  • 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. There are two off-leash exercise areas available, depending on the size of your dog.                                                                                                                                    

   *Opening and closing dates are weather dependent.

Woofstock_30Membership Registration

  • Membership is required for admittance in the dog parks. You will receive a key fob membership card within ten business days of registration. You must carry this key fob membership card with you when visiting all off-leash dog park areas.
  • Registration can be completed online or in person at Heller Nature Center.
  • Membership is valid for a 12-month period from date of purchase.

Membership Fees

  • Resident: $50 first dog ($25 each additional dog). Must provide 2019-20 City of Highland Park dog tag number.
  • Nonresident: $150 first dog ($75 each additional dog). Must provide current rabies vaccination tag number.

Hours of Operation

  • Dog parks are open from dawn until dusk 7 days a week.
  • The parks will close periodically for cleaning and maintenance.


  • Locked off-leash exercise area, accessible only with key fob membership card at Debbie Gottlieb Park.
  • Wash station available mid-April through October at Debbie Gottlieb Park.
  • Picnic tables & benches at Debbie Gottlieb Park.
  • Pickup bag dispensers and trash receptacles.

The dog parks are the ONLY Park District locations that dogs are allowed off-leash.  We want all of our guests to have fun and be safe; rules and regulations will be strictly enforced. Dog owner cooperation and compliance is the key to the success of this program.

Rules and Regulations

  • Presentation of your key fob membership card is required for use of the parks and is not transferable.
  • Owners/handlers are solely responsible for damage or injury caused by their dogs to another dog, person or park property.
  • Dogs must be fully immunized and display City of Highland Park and rabies tags.
  • Maximum of two dogs per person on any single visit.
  • Dogs known to be aggressive are prohibited. Be prepared to leash your dog if it becomes aggressive.
  • Dogs must wear collars at all times. Spiked or pinch collars are prohibited.
  • Owners are responsible for immediately cleaning up and properly disposing of waste.
  • Children must be at least 10 years of age to enter the off-leash area and must be closely supervised.
  • Appropriate dog park behavior: no running, no chasing dogs, and no petting of other dogs unless permission is requested from owner first.
  • Food is prohibited in the off-leash area.
  • Designated small dog areas are reserved for dogs 25 pounds or less.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times when outside the off-leash area. Fines up to $500. City Ord. 61-09, J.35, p. 193-219 (Passed 10/26/09), Park District Ordinance No. 01-04, SECTION 2.03.

At any given time, the Park District is managing and working on numerous projects to maintain and improve our nine facilities and 44 parks and natural areas. The Capital Plan is designed to outline current and anticipated needs of the district, as well as provide a window into ongoing or in-progress projects. Below is a listing of current projects. Check back for details and progress. For improvements at your neighborhood park click here.

Park Avenue Beach Breakwater/Barge Project

For information on major projects recently completed, click on the link below.

Kennedy Park Playground Replacement Project

Parks & Golf Operations Center

Recreation Center of Highland Park Renovation

Rosewood Beach Improvements

Sleepy Hollow Bridge Replacement

Sunset Valley Golf Course Renovation

For future projects and long range planning efforts check out PDHP’s master plan Greenprint 2024, approved in December 2015.

Outdoor Ice Skating  

 For status updates on the Sunset Woods Park outdoor skating rink, please check the Rainout Line 

Sunset Woods ParkSW_IceRink_trees
1801 Sunset Road
Hours: 9am-9pm daily (rink is lit by existing park lights)

Skating is free and the rink is sectioned off to allow for separate hockey and recreational skating. Groups should be considerate of one another. NEW! For the safety of our patrons, helmets are required in the hockey rink.

There is no supervision or skate rental at the outdoor rink. Anyone using the ice rink should be aware that the risk of injury is present. The Park District encourages everyone to participate in this activity in a safe manner and suggests that children be supervised by a responsible adult.

Seasonal Opening of the Outdoor Rink

When weather conditions allow (an average temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for 5 consecutive days, 5-6 inches of ground frost), park district staff will begin flooding the ice rink at Sunset Woods Park. It takes four 24-hour days to spray and freeze the water to create a base and finish ice.

Throughout the season, the rink may be closed for snow removal or unsafe ice conditions. Sign up for the Rainout Line and get up-to-date information on the outdoor rink status.

Outdoor Sled Hill 

Danny Cunniff Park
2700 Trail Way Street (located toward the back of the park, just south of Centennial Ice Arena)
Hours: No set hoursWinterFest_Sledders_49

The sled hill is free and open to the public. Please be aware that there is no supervision or warming facility at the sled hill. The Park District of Highland Park encourages everyone to participate in this activity in a safe manner and to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Children should be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • The user assumes full responsibility for determining if the Sled
  • Hill is safe to use.
  • Use the Sled Hill at your own risk.
  • Walk to the top of the Sled Hill along the fenced sides of the hill to avoid collisions.
  • Use caution when sledding and be considerate of others.
  • Sled down the hill only when it is clear of other sledders.

Throughout the season, the sled hill may be closed from time to time. Sign up for the Rainout Line and get up-to-date information on the sled hill and outdoor ice rink status.