We decided to go here and cross off one of our Sand Pail Bucket Lists for the summer. The Phillips Park in Aurora is definitely a hidden gem. There’s so much to do, but not so huge that it is overwhelming. So glad we came!

Nitty Gritty: Everything was FREE – the Zoo, the tram, the splash pad, Mastodon gallery. The Park itself is located in Aurora. There is ample parking across from the Visitor Center/Splash Pad. The Mastodon Express’ boarding is right behind the Visitor Center. There is no cafeteria/eatery but there are a few vendors selling concessions such as popcorn ($1), and there is also a vending machine in the visitor center. Everywhere is stroller friendly except The Reptile House but there is stroller parking right in front of the entrance. There are also some hilly parts in the zoo that may make it difficult to maneuver a stroller (well, we had a double stroller so it was difficult for us.) There are bathrooms in the visitor center.

During the summer months, they offer Movies in the Park. Check out their Calendar here.


The fun: What a fun park! The park not only includes a small zoo, Phillips Park Zoo, but also a fishing area, a Mastodon bone exhibit, a tram, a sunken garden, splash pad, playgrounds for tots and older kids, picnic areas, a dog park, a skate park, aquatic center, a golf course, and even a sledding hill for wintertime.

With so much to do, we decided to get the lay of the land by going on the 3 mile tram ride, the Mastodon Express, which gave us an overview of the park’s offerings. The ride was about 30 minutes long and very informative.

We then stopped by the visitor center to check out Mastodon bones, an extinct animal similar to an elephant, that was discovered on the site.  There is a also huge statue of a mastodon in front of the visitor center.

Our next stop was the Zoo. Some animals to see include peacocks, mountain lions, eagles, vultures, owls, turkeys, llamas, goats, wolves, alligators, turtles, python, elk and more! Since it was a smaller zoo, unlike our experiences at Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, we didn’t feel rushed to see everything. We took our time and enjoyed looking at each animal. Go to the Zoo’s website to download a link to a self-guided tour. 

Right behind the zoo is a trail that led to the playground area. There were about 5 playground equipment to choose from, one of which was one shaped like a ship. There were separate swings for older kids and one just the little tots.

The sunken garden is perfect for pictures. In fact, when we were there there were about 6 different groups of people taking pictures there for which looked like a quinceanara, wedding, and even prom.

Since it is right in front of the visitor center and the zoo entrance, we could not miss the splash pad. It is a small splash pad park, but tons of kids were having a blast!

Must sees:

  • The alligators and the huge python at Reptile House at the Zoo
  • Splash splashin’ at the Splash Pad
  • Relaxing and getting acquainted with Phillips Park on the Mastodon Express tram
  • Seeing real Mastodon bones
  • Photo ops in the Sunken Garden

Bottom Line: Yes, don’t miss it! Such a great park with so much to do. We would definitely come here again and maybe watch a movie on the awesome hill!

Around the area: Check out Doggie Diner for the homemade root beer, Blackberry Farm for another excursion, or shopping at the Aurora Prime Outlet Mall