Chicago is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to intertwining green spaces with its web of urban concrete. Because the city has designated so much area to natural environments, a number of Chicago’s main events are hosted in its parks and gardens, a marker of how important these areas are to both residents and visitors. While visiting this Midwestern city, don’t hold back from exploring the area’s brightest green spaces!
Though its name has changed over the years, Grant Park (often referred to as “Chicago’s Front Yard”) is as old as the city itself, dating back to the early 19th century. Nowadays, the park’s features appear endless, with multiple museums, monuments, and music festivals finding a place on the grounds. Located in the city’s Central Business District (CBD), the park treats visitors to views of the surrounding skyline, blooming gardens, and neighboring Lake Michigan. This Chicago hotspot is unavoidable, and for all the right reasons!
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Despite being situated in the northwestern corner of Grant Park, Millennium Park deserves to be featured on its own. With over 25 million annual visitors, the award-winning park is the most visited attraction in the Midwest. Home to Lurie Garden, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, BP Pedestrian Bridge, outdoor art exhibits, and much, much more, this urban green space has understandably received so much acclaim in recent years. And what makes the park even better is its seasonal versatility, with the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink and annual Christmas tree lighting enticing visitors and locals during the city’s coldest months.
Northerly Island is one of the best examples of how the green effect is blossoming in Illinois’s capital. The island, which is home to thousands of trees and shrubs, stretches for over 90 acres and is encircled by a multi-purpose trail that travels around its entire circumference. You will also find the Adler Planetarium, Huntington Bank Pavilion, and 12th Street Beach while adventuring on the man-made peninsula.
Between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. visitors are able to enjoy the environmentally friendly luxuries of Lincoln Park, situated just north of downtown. To reach the park, hop on the 36 bus at State and Grand. The ride will take roughly 20 minutes and end at the intersection of Armitage and Clark, where you’ll soon see the expansive space that is Lincoln Park. Within the park’s perimeters are Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago History Museum, North Pond Nature Sanctuary, and two beaches (North Avenue and Oak Street), ensuring that the venture north is worth the journey.
Located on a man-made point jutting out of Burnham Park, this shorefront that was once a landfill now hosts visitors looking to take in some of Chicago’s best scenery. The point is a popular summer hangout, an open space where visitors and residents can enjoy a number of activities, including swimming and BBQing. The Lakefront Trail also runs through the area, which makes it easy for those traveling by bicycle to stop, relax, and take in the views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area. If biking isn’t your thing, both the Red and Orange Lines will take you to the point, which will be a 30-minute train ride from Millenium Station.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
One of the smaller Chicago green spaces on this list, Ping Tom Memorial Park is a 17-acre park located on the banks of the Chicago River near the city’s Chinatown. Once used as an old railway, the area has been repurposed as a community gathering space, to be used by visitors and travelers alike. In addition to sweet views of the cityscape, there’s also plenty of room for outdoor activities like picnicking and kayaking (which are available for rent in the summer). To find your way to the memorial park, it’s easiest to ride the metro’s Red Line from Monroe Station to Cermak-Chinatown.