Rain or shine, winter or spring, there is always something exciting to do in Chicago’s many incredible parks. Scattered throughout these beautiful spaces are world-class museums, conservatories, seemingly infinite green spaces, expansive running and biking paths and remnants of the city’s rich history.
When you think of Chicago, you probably picture Grant Park. This massive lakefront space is home to Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute, Millennium Park and its ‘Bean’ sculpture and Chicago’s Museum Campus, comprising the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field. Grant Park also hosts Chicago’s annual Lollapalooza music festival. If you’re looking to stay outside, a long lakefront path passes right through the park and is a wonderful place to walk, run, bike or even take a Segway tour. No matter where you find yourself in Grant Park, you are sure to enjoy incredible views of Lake Michigan.
Jackson Park is a huge space on Chicago’s South Side. In addition to containing a beautiful Japanese garden, a golf course, three Lake Michigan harbors, tennis courts and basketball courts, it is also the future home of the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Additionally, Jackson Park houses the Museum of Science and Industry, one of Chicago’s most engaging museums, where visitors enjoy interactive exhibits that show them the wonders of science. Visiting Jackson Park also means experiencing a piece of history, as it was first built to host the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. In fact, the Museum of Science and Industry was originally built for the fair as the Palace of Fine Arts.
This Chinatown park was once a railroad yard, but in 1998 the city converted it into the beautiful space it is today. Ping Tom Memorial Park is situated along the Chicago River and boasts beautiful views of the Willis Tower and other surrounding buildings that make up Chicago’s skyline. In the summer, visitors can rent kayaks, play on the playground, take a peaceful walk along the river or enjoy community events such as Shakespeare in the Park.
The area surrounding Wrigley Field has gotten quite the makeover since the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. In addition to a number of snazzy new bars, shops and restaurants, a park called Gallagher Way has become a delightful new feature of the neighborhood. It’s a tiny space and built right up against the stadium, yet it attracts a huge number of people. A large television screen in the park plays Cubs games live. Fans with tickets can take a break from the stadium crowds to lie in the grass without missing a moment of the game. On game days, you can’t get all the way into the park without a ticket, but the screen is large enough that you can easily watch the action from outside the boundaries. When there isn’t a game going on, the park is open to the public and hosts other events, like movies and farmer’s markets. In the winter, it even has a skating rink.
Garfield Park, located on the West Side in a neighborhood of the same name, is best known for being home to the Garfield Park Conservatory – one of the largest plant conservatories in the country. It is also known for its Field House, an architectural marvel with a golden dome containing a fitness center, gymnasium, dance studio and grand ballroom.