The 5 Best Parks to Explore in Chicago
Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest, is a sprawling metropolis known for its picturesque skyline, deep dish pizzas, and bone-chilling winters. One of the largest cities in America, Chicago attracts millions of tourists from across the nation each year.
Visitors never have a shortage of things to do in the Windy City, whether you’re interested in fine dining, outdoor exploration, or high-end shopping. An outlier among most major cities, Chicago has devoted a large percentage of its land toward parks that include open spaces and facilities, managed by the Chicago Park District. While many of these parks serve residents, a number of them are also popular tourist attractions.
If you’re heading to Chicago for the first time and want to get a more comprehensive experience of Chicago’s culture, be sure to check out some of Chicago’s most popular parks, listed below:
A large urban park located in “The Loop” neighborhood of Chicago, Grant Park is surrounded by Chicago’s central business district. It features landmarks such as Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus. Also governed by the Chicago Park District, it’s one of Chicago’s most well-known urban parks. Several flower gardens and recreational areas can also be found in the park. The popular music festival Lollapalooza is also hosted in Grant Park.
This popular trail is a paved path that passes a number of amazing lakefront neighborhoods such as Edgewater, Uptown, Lincoln Park, Bronzeville, and more. With lake views and sandy beaches on one side and green space and city skylines on the other, this trail is perfect for running, biking, rollerblading, and any outdoor activity you can think of.
This is one of Chicago’s most photographed locations, featuring spectacular water and light displays. Light and music shows begin every hour, on the hour at this popular tourist attraction.
The Museum Campus combines the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium to provide fun, educational experiences for visitors. Whether your group has a bunch of children, or a team of adults, these destinations are sure to leave you in awe.
Douglas Park is a large park found on the West Side of Chicago in the North Lawndale community. It’s a cultural and community center that is a central location for recreational activities such as mini golf, playgrounds, outdoor swimming, soccer, basketball, and track. Home of the Riot Fest music festival, Douglas Park has partnered with many community partners to add cultural programs that include dance, art, and theater.
Homan Square Park
Located in North Lawndale, Homan Square Park has a recreation, health, and family and education center for all ages. Home to an Olympic-size swimming pool, basketball courts, and green space, this location is perfect for groups looking to get a workout in.
Crazy Bird Chicken
Owned by Larry Tucker, Crazy Bird Chicken is a small spot in Lawndale that primarily serves fried chicken and sides. The buffalo chicken sandwich and Crazy Bird Crazy Good Fries are two of the most popular options on the menu, and desserts such as pound cake made by Tucker’s wife are always in high demand.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
The largest craft brewery in the city, Lagunitas Brewing Company produces some of the best beer in the Windy City. Found in a group of warehouses near Douglas Park, it’s an extremely popular location among tourists.
Also located in the Loop, Millenium Park is one of the most popular parks in the city of Chicago. Its architecture is unique from any other location in Chicago, and it is home to hangouts such as Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, and more. Known for its accessibility and green design, the park is free to enter and is consistently rated as the top tourist attraction in Chicago.
Cloud Gate is a public sculpture created by Sir Anish Kapoor, and is arguably the most iconic landmark of Chicago. Known colloquially as “The Bean”, it’s located in the center of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park, located in the Loop community.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a bandshell located in Millennium Park. named after the Pritzker family based in Chicago, it’s the centerpiece of Millennium Park and is the home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Grant Park Music Festival, and a bunch of other performing arts events in Chicago.
Lurie Garden is a 2.5 acre garden found on the southern tip of Millennium Park. The garden contains a combination of plants, including perennials, bulbs, grasses, and shrubs, and features guided walks, interactive demonstrations, and family festivals for visitors.
Located on the South Side of Chicago, Hyde Park is a neighborhood and community on the shore of Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and several shopping districts can also be found on 53rd, 55th, and 57th street, all within Hyde Park. For lovers of culture, the Court Theater, The Renaissance Society, and the Smart Museum of Art are all viable options for exploration.
Museum of Science and Industry
Housed in what used to be the Palace of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science and Industry exhibits replicas of some of the most iconic industrial creations in human history. Choose from over 2,000 exhibits, including the Transportation Gallery, Science Storms, the Coal Mine, and the Entry Hall.
Oriental Institute Museum
Established in 1919, the Oriental Institute Museum is the University of Chicago’s research center for ancient Near Eastern studies. It conducts research on civilizations such as Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, and more.
Robert A. Millikan House
The Robert A. Millikan House is a historic house that was the home of Robert Millikan, an Illinois native who received the first Ph.D in physics from Columbia University. He made significant contributions to science, including the oil-drop experiment, which provided the most accurate measure of an atom’s electric charges.
Lincoln Park is Chicago’s largest public park, stretching for seven miles from Grand Avenue to Ardmore Avenue. This area is also home to a neighborhood of the same name, which features a number of beaches, recreational areas, nature reserves, and harbors. Lincoln Park has a diverse nightlife scene, lots of great restaurants, and a myriad of popular entertainment destinations for groups of every kind.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo that operates throughout the year. Featuring species such as big cats, apes, reptiles, marine life, and more, nearly 1,250 animals are currently housed at the zoo. Today, the zoo hosts a farm, a wildlife marsh, and a nature boardwalk.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
The Lincoln Park Conservatory has year-round displays of plants from different locations in the world. The conservatory features several rooms specializing in specific plant breeds, including the Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid Room, and the Display House.
Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum is a landmark dedicated to capturing the accomplishments of humans in Chicago. It’s home to a number of iconic artifacts, such as Abraham Lincoln’s deathbed, materials from the Great Chicago Fire, and an enormous research library.
Book a Charter Bus Today
Are you ready to explore all of the beautiful parks that Chicago has to offer? If you’re planning on seeing any of these sights with a large group, reach out to Chicago Charter Bus Company at 312-667-0906 for more information about our charter bus and minibus rental options and services.