O'Day Park Takeaway. The "Basically A Free Adventure Park Park". Incredibly high-quality apparatuses, layout, and design. Playground complete. While every apparatus is awesome, they are mostly all single-use. Limits kids' creative freedom, so they get bored quicker than you would expect, given the quality. Bring a bathing suit for the splash pad in Summer. Easy parking in a giant lot. Brand new bathrooms. Located way out west across the river in O'Fallon. Not worth the 32-minute drive from my house, but definitely worth sub ~15 minutes if you live closer.
O'Day Park Experience Summary
O'Day Park is located across the St. Charles River in O'Fallon, a half-hour plus drive from St. Louis.
My buddy called it basically Kansas City.
It is a well-maintained park with top-notch playground equipment. As an adult, you'll be instantly floored by the quality and design. Kids will be amazed by what seems like an almost infinite number of things to do.
Think of it as an Instagram park, funner looking on the internet than in real life.
It's like a mini version of the Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK.
But there's a flaw in the perfection.
Each apparatus has a defined use case, which can become repetitive for kids. There's a limited amount of creative freedom to express on each piece. The defined use makes kids actually get bored way sooner than you'd expect, given the initial impression.
Overall, O'Day Park is worth a visit if you live nearby, but it may not be worth the long drive from St. Louis unless you're looking to kill an afternoon quadrant (The time before or after nap time) single parenting on the weekend. It's also free, which is an amazing perk for the community.
Parking is easy in a giant dedicated lot, and the bathrooms are new and fresh. Bring a bathing suit and towel for the summer splash pad.
And again, it's an objectively beautiful park.
O'Day Park Playground Breakdown
There are easily ten defined apparatuses across the park. They are all new and immaculately laid out. I will say if the kids outnumber the adults, it will be hard to keep an eye on two of them at once. I had to trust my seven-year-old to not get lost while I shadowed my three-year-old.
Here's the beautiful part and the rub of O'Day - there is no main playground. Instead, you have easily ten different things to play on, but each apparatus serves one purpose.
Based on the pictures I took and my memory, here are all the apparatuses in family-favorite order:
There may be some other smaller parts I'm missing, but we spent about 90% of the time on the first five because they offer the most creative play.
In particular, the climbing ladder gave me and my three-year-old a ton of different ways up and down. Going up was his favorite as he basically hit flow state with it - hard enough to make him think every step but doable while concentrating. Going down was by far my favorite, as you could make a running start, hit a slide at the right spot, and glide down the hill without crashing into any small humans or equipment.
I easily made a dozen runs down the hill.
The giant orange slide is super fun, but it's just a slide.
Getting back up to the top takes running around a hill, trekking up the astroturf, or climbing up a climbing net. So, the time to slide reset is quite long, tiring, and repetitive - there's no creative way to get back up.
You can't come in from a new angle; there are signs that say don't climb on the outside of the slide, and you're left with the one way to go down.
And that's every apparatus. It has one clearly defined function and doesn't really let you use your imagination around it.
Compare that to the main playground at Tillis Park. That's one big piece of equipment, but it has hundreds of potential entrances depending on how you use your imagination.
So O'Day is Playground Complete, and you can easily spend an hour or an hour and a half, but that'll be the end mark. Pushing it to two hours would be surprisingly difficult.
Let's take a moment to give reverence to the splash pad. If you can come on a day when it's working, that'll give kids an easy thirty minutes plus of fun. My younger guy appreciates a good splash pad more than my older guy. The design of this one looks fantastic, but there are a fair number of hard edges to be careful around.
The other two apparatuses to mention are the climbing net and the climbing wall. The climbing net is surprisingly hard to climb, so you'll have something like a five-year-old minimum on it. My seven-year-old didn't really dig it as much as I thought he would and instead stuck to the climbing wall around the sides of the tunnel.
The ropes course ended our time at O'Day Park. Again, you get around the course once or twice, and that's all there is to it. You can't really devise a new way around it, but it is fun to add challenges like moving ropes and such.
O'Day Park Amenities And Miscellaneous
O'Day Park has a new set of bathrooms that were squeaky clean when we were there.
There is also a pavilion right next to the playground that is perfect for having birthdays.
We didn't see them, but there are two amenities at O'Day Park aimed at adults:
Parking At O'Day Park
Parking is super simple in a dedicated lot. We were there on a pretty packed September morning, and it was half full. Or empty, I'm not sure what's the positive connotation for a parking lot.
O'Day Park Receipt