Friendship Grove Nature Playscape

Location: 1505 N. Broadway Urbana, IL 61801
Gold/Ruby Bus Route
Get Directions
Phone: 217-384-4062

Questions & Group Visit Scheduling: Call 217-384-4062

Please Note


  • Groups of 10+ should call to find the optimal time to visit: 217-384-4063
  • Climbing features are intended for ages 5-12.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Leave pets at home.

The Friendship Grove Nature Playscape at the Anita Purves Nature Center is a hands-on, kid-directed outdoor play space where boulders, logs, and other thoughtfully curated natural items give kids’ imaginations room to soar. The space provides accessible play opportunities for all abilities. There are four main features, many other play elements, and an ever-changing variety of loose play pieces such as pots and pans, baskets for gathering, cardboard for forts, and more!

Log Wall – This line of towering, flat-topped logs is a balancing challenge, or a castle in the making!
Fallen Tree – Climb and jump from this enormous tree trunk and its hovering branches.
Digging Area – Get dirty and enjoy digging canals, making sandcastles, or mixing mud pies.
Tunnel – Go low or go high in this intriguing rock, tunnel, and hill combination.


FREE! Fort-Building Loan Kit

Want to build a fort for fun? We have a kit for you to use in the playscape or at home! Supplies include rope, tarp, bed sheets, clothespins, bungee cords and more. Call 217-384-4062 for reservation and loan information.


Research shows that children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative, and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills. Unlike single-use play equipment, nature play offers endless variety and opportunities for multi-sensory exploration, as children learn about the natural world in a wide variety of ways. The park district’s nature-inspired, child-driven playscape will foster creative play among visitors of all ages and abilities as they make discoveries and interact with their environment.
Regular contact with nature is associated with:
  • Increased physical activity
  • Improved creativity and problem solving
  • Enhanced ability to focus
  • Reduced symptoms of ADD
  • Better academic performance
  • Better social relations
  • Improved self-control
Learn more about the importance of nature play:


Parking is available in the Anita Purves Nature Center/Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center parking lot. Parking is especially limited on summer afternoons. Overflow parking is available off Broadway Ave. east of the aquatic center during the summer months. Bus parking is located at the lot at Park Street and Broadway Ave.


Thank you to all of our generous donors and to everyone who made the creation of the Nature Playscape possible! Donations are still being accepted and will allow the playscape to change and grow over time.

Questions? Want to make a significant or named gift? Contact Jeremy Thorpe, UPD Development Manager, at or 217-367-1536.

The Urbana Park District is accepting donations of "loose parts for play".
Donations will be accepted at the Anita Purves Nature Center during open hours: M-F 8am-5pm & Sat 9am-4pm.


The nature playscape, Busey Woods Gateway and Boardwalk Trails and Anita Purves Nature Center are wheelchair accessible.


Crystal Lake Park has many opportunities for fun

  • Come on inside the Anita Purves Nature Center - FREE
    • explore the Field Station and Wildlife Observation Room inside the nature center
    • shop at the Nature Shop and take home a Friendship Grove Nature Playscape backpack and sand pail
  • Hike Busey Woods along the Busey Gateway and Boardwalk Trails
  • Cool off at the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center with features flume slides, drop slides, climbing wall, dump bucket, sand play area, vortex, wet deck, and more.
  • Rent a paddleboat, rowboat or canoe at the Lake House
  • Fish in Crystal Lake (kids age 16 and under do not need a fishing license)


Public restrooms are located outside the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center (April-October) and inside the Anita Purves Nature Center during open hours. Thank you for wiping off your shoes before entering!


Download a visitor's guide prior to your visit for more information.