CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY GONZALEZ
If you’re feeling cramped from city life, take a day to visit Lake Park in Ilsan. The city of Ilsan is a planned city to help with the Seoul overcrowding, so it’s very logical, easy to get around, and has a lot of entertainment and leisure stuff to do. The city and park will suit families with children of all ages, shopaholics, nature lovers, and fitness buffs. It’s about 30 minutes north of Yongsan by car, close to an hour by subway, so it’s an easy trip.
Lake Park is about 4.5 km around with paved biking and running/walking trails the whole way. The water itself is purified, and although I have never seen anyone swimming, people fishing from the banks or bridges is common. There are little lagoons, waterfalls, and geological architecture all along the park to enjoy as you walk, run, or bike. The driving bridge over the park is even decorated to fit in with the landscape. Love the picnic tables to get out of the sun underneath the bridge! The park is home to the World Flower Expo in late April and there is a flower sculpture garden out front of the building. It’s so pretty and all living.
A beautiful pagoda is located on a man-made island. You can go up inside for a photo op or quiet reflection. There are also three playgrounds, different flower gardens to peruse, fountains, and picnicking all throughout the park. It seems like the areas are first come, first served. The prime picnicking locations close to amenities fill up quickly, but it doesn’t ever feel crowded and there is still plenty of shaded open space to enjoy. Directional signs with English are present to guide you along the different paths. Bathrooms are at regular intervals on the city side of the park only as are small snack vending stations. I haven’t found any stroller rentals at the park, so plan to bring your own. There are many bike shops on the street right outside the park that rent bikes, tandem bikes, and even trailers for small kids. Perfect if you’re arriving by subway and don’t want to bring a bike of your own.
At the north end of the park is a big pavilion. There are several fountains that do colorful musical concerts at night here. They start at 8:00 p.m. Kids can play in the shallow fountains and splash park area, and many come prepared with swimsuits and squirt guns. There are bike and pedal car rentals here too. I love the animal carts! They were rented by the aquarium located at this end of the park, but the park’s bike rentals are on the far right side of the pavilion. Besides the aquarium, there is a water park, an open air mall with lots of restaurants and shopping, live music, a “mini zoo” (which is four cages of mostly farm animals…very disappointing), and a performance stage area here. I saw the beginning of a MMA match one Saturday.
I would recommend either ending your day at this end of the park to cool off with a sweet treat or start here with dinner and catch the musical fountain show some evening. I personally can’t visit without stopping at Wanna Bee ice cream café. Their fruit and honey sundae is amazing. It’s on the main floor of the mall towards the back left corner.
Take the Seoul subway line 3 to Jeongbalsan Station, and exit door 1. Immediately turn right and walk about 10 minutes along the open green space on Jungang-ro 1261 beon-gil .This road dead ends at Hosu-ro. Cross the street (there are several pedestrian overpasses with elevators) to reach the park. You can enter at any walking path or parking lot.
If you plan to drive from Yongsan, head North on Hwy 70/23. Take the KINTEX exit. Turn right onto Hallyuwolden-ro until you see the park on your left. It’s about 30-40 minutes. There are many small entrance paths along the sidewalk.
Hours of Operation: n/a
Payment: credit card or won accepted
Parking: There are small parking lots at regular intervals on the city side of the park. Parking costs 600 won per hour however. On the KINTEX/highway side of the park is lots of street parking for free. Western Dom and LaFesta shopping centers are close with parking garages as well, but parking fees vary.