Chicago's Parks

Chicago is a large, sprawling city. While much of it is occupied by the regular appointments of a metropolis—skyscrapers, restaurants, shops, and residences—the city remains committed to maintaining a number of fabulous outdoor spaces. Under its watchful care, Chicago’s parks have become known as some of the world’s best.

Millennium Park, as you might have surmised by its name, is relatively new. It was originally conceived in 1997 to extend downtown parkland along Lake Michigan. Its construction was blighted by many problems and delays, but when it was finally completed in 2004, it garnered rave reviews for its ingenuity and eye-catching design. While many people doubted it would live up to its planned design, the finished product has not disappointed. In fact, Millennium Park is now a beloved spot by natives and tourists alike.

At just under 25 acres, Millennium Park has something for everyone. During the winter, a popular draw is the ice skating rink. In the summer months, this area is reserved for al fresco dining and special events. Throughout the year, visitors (and especially children) are delighted by large, interactive sculptures and the notable “bean-inspired” band shell designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

It is worth mentioning that Millennium Park is adjacent to Grant Park, which is home to the world famous Buckingham Fountain. Grant Park offers many fun activities during the summer, inclusive of orchestral concerts which treat visitors to free outdoor performances of classical music and numerous annual musical festivals, i.e. Chicago Blues Festival and Chicago Jazz Festival;. Plus, Mayor Daley recently inducted the “Chicago Outdoor Film Festival” an annually held event during the summer months in which a prized family movie is shown outside every week.

Also overlooking Lake Michigan, but located further north, is Lincoln Park. Note: The neighborhood surrounding it is also referred to as Lincoln Park, so don’t get confused. Lincoln Park is probably most famous for the Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo, which is open every day, is home to many exotic animals. Best of all, it one of the only free public zoos in the entire country. Make sure to stop by the new Regenstein Ape House, which is one of the zoo’s newest and most delightful ecological habitats.

While the zoo is the main draw, Lincoln Park is a worthy landmark in its own right. There are many activities in which you can engage. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a beautiful, oversized greenhouse where you can see all types of horticulture and foliage. Alternatively, you can rent a paddleboat for a nominal fee. Perhaps the main attraction is the land itself. The park is over a thousand acres, which is considerably larger than Central Park in New York City. People exercise and stroll along the lake paths at all times during the year, although during the summer it is unquestionably the most crowded.