Looking over historical ads for the park, I see it was once billed as ""The Coney Island of the West"". Well, I grew up in NYC, and spent tons of time in Coney Island, and, while that great park has suffered the ravages of time and the tawdry, even sleazy developments that came with it, Oaks Park strikes me as a trip in a time machine back to a much smaller version of Coney Island circa 1910. The flowers, the gazebos, the picknickers, the river right there (ok, so it's not the Atlantic ocean, but still, it's sand). Charming and relaxing. It is, first and foremost, a park for children... There are only one or two big thrill rides. Rowdy twentysomethings looking for opportunities to drink too much beer, whoop it up on ""x-treme"" rides and scare their dates will find little satisfaction here(at least during the day). Those people will have to wait for the temporary and widly overpriced parks that set up on the West side for cinco de mayo and rose festival. The antique carousel is beautiful, (be sure to look for the pair of owls that live up in the roof), and the blend of kiddie rides provides a nice variety of daring for kids of varying ""ride tolerance"". Adults should be careful with the smaller roller coaster in the kiddie area... it'll do a number on your back! Yes, it is sometimes crowded, but you can always take a little break down on the beach, which is almost always empty, and enjoy the nice view of downtown while waving to the passing boats. Finally, an amusement park that is fun without being completely overwhelming. You will see far fewer crying children and advil gulping parents here than at your average park. The only drawback is the entry fee imposed at Oktoberfest. I wish they simply charged extra to enter the ""fest"" area, so people like me, who have no interest in it and just want to enjoy regular park features, didn't have to pay for that dubious event.
Pros: actually a pleasant experience
Cons: oktoberfest fee