Whenever I ask people who are on the registry what they would do if they were NOT on the registry, the most common answer I get is, "Go to the park." Seem being restricted from parks is huge issue for most people.
And it's no wonder. The park restriction keeps people from not just local parks, but from many activities that take place at parks, such as family reunions, company picnics, fireworks, fairs, car shows, and a host of other activities. Recently, Illinois added "bike paths" to its list of restricted places, essentially prohibiting registered sex offenders from miles and miles of roads built just for bicyclists.
The parks laws are also some of the most confusing as well. The wording in the law talks about buildings on real property, and approaching minors, and other words that make reading the law very confusing.
The state police, however, have a clear interpretation of the law. If it is government owned property that could be even remotely seen as a park, it's off limits. I was even told I could not stop at a road-side landmark if it was state owned. Clearly, the interpretation by the police is that registered sex offenders cannot be in any park at any time.
There are exceptions, of course. On the Sex Offender Registry website, they tell you of at least one exception: "Exempts child sex offenders convicted of Criminal Sexual Abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15-b) and Sexual Abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15-c)." Also, the restriction against being a park applies only to those labeled as "sexual predator" or listed as a "child sex offender." When asked, one Illinois Senator suggested that the park (and bike path) restrictions were only for those who did something wrong while at the park. He argued that if you went to the park and didn't do anything to attract attention, no one would know, and thus you would not get in trouble for being there.
However, this is not how the law is written. Even if you are not doing anything "wrong" while you're in the park, JUST BEING IN THE PARK is enough to violate the sex offender registration act, a class A misdemeanor. More importantly, if you violate the act, you can be automatically put on the registry for life (if you're not already) and you can be forced register every 90 days (rather than annually).
The best advice? Stay away from parks. Find alternatives (private parks, friends or family with property, etc.) If you decide to go to a park, you take a serious risk. Perhaps someday the parks law will be challenge in Illinois. It has been challenged and thrown out in other states, so there is hope.