Best Chicago Parks
Pop 5: Our Favorite City Parks to Chill At
Welcome back to the Pop 5, featuring Chicago's best places to do anything and everything. Last week, we told you about the best place to brave a bikini wax. This week, our topic is more of a walk in the park — literally. This is the best time of the year to take advantage of one (or several) of Chicago's beautiful parks, whether you want to go for a scenic run or laze on a blanket with a picnic. The Chicago Park District manages 570 parks. Did yours make the cut? Read on to find out.
- While it may be the most obvious choice, Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St., 312-742-1168) absolutely thrives this time of year. Between the concerts twice a week in the Harris Theater, Saturday morning workouts, tours, stunning architecture (the iconic bean is just one of many), and dining opps, you could spend an entire day here without getting bored. The MP website is the best resource to keep tabs on the dates and times of the countless activities that take place here.
- Before Millennium, there was Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St., 312-742-7648), which started forming back in 1835 due to the fear that the lakefront would be gobbled up by commercial development. Referred to as Chicago's "front yard," one of the coolest aspects of this park (aside from the countless festivals) is the museum campus and the iconic Buckingham Fountain.
- Lincoln Park (2045 Lincoln Park W., 312-742-7726) thrives 365, thanks to the running/walking/biking paths, Lincoln Park Zoo, Cafe Brauer, North Pond restaurant, and the Green City Market. It's hard to believe that this popular landscaped attraction was a small cemetery for victims of cholera and smallpox before being converted into a park in the 1850s. Now isn't that a fun-yet-dismal factoid to throw out to your running partner?
- A little further out — but rockin' an old-school vibe — Garfield Park (100 N. Central Park Ave., 312-746-5092) has fun accents like lagoons and bridges that really give it character. The park is associated with the historical "gold dome" building that serves as the park's field house, as well as the exotic Garfield Park Conservatory. Truly a destination within itself, the conservatory (made up of six greenhouses) is one of the largest in the country and home to 4.5 acres of exotic flora and fauna.
- The same designers of New York's Central Park also designed Chicago's own Jackson Park (6401 S. Stoney Island Ave., 773-256-0903), which was once the site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition — cool! From the new fitness center and other sporting destinations (think 18-hole golf course, walking/running paths, baseball field, and tennis courts) to the nifty lagoons and historic Osaka Japanese Garden, this park (pictured) is a historical masterpiece fully equipped with modern-day amenities.
Source: Erica Lipper for Jackson Park