The 6 Most Iconic Outdoor Spots in Chicago, IL

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The Windy City has plenty to see: from museums to skyscrapers, to views of Lake Michigan.

Known as a hub for transportation as well as plenty of deep dish pizza, Chicago has a lot to offer those who are moving to the area.  Check out these six iconic outdoor spots in Chicago, known for their beauty and unique attributes to the city.

1. Buckingham Fountain

This memorial fountain was built in 1927 and donated to the city of Chicago in Grant Park. It is one of the largest fountains in the world and is known as one of Chicago’s most iconic places to visit.

The spray is unique in its design with additions of seahorses surrounding a central round fountain. Buckingham Fountain is on from 8am-11pm and shoots 15,000 gallons of water from the lower pool through the many nozzles and up to the center. The fountain is a must-see attraction at night as the addition of lights makes it come to life.

2. Chicago Riverwalk

Strolling down the Chicago Riverwalk is a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon in the city. You’ll find plenty of space to walk along the Chicago River that cuts through the heart of downtown.

A wide range of buildings surrounds either side of the river in all different architectural styles. There are 18 bridges over the river, which you can see up close by taking one of many boat tours. Quaint little shops and dining options dot the river making this an iconic and peaceful way to see Chicago.

3. The Bean

Formally known as Cloud Gate, the bean is within Millennium Park, located right off of Lake Shore Drive, and is quite possibly the most well-known tourist spot in the city.

The 110-ton art installation has a polished surface making it act as a mirror to the city. No matter the weather you can always find a crowd surrounding the bean to view the reflection of high-rises as well as admire the unusual sculpture itself. Take a picture of yourself in the bean reflection and see how many buildings you can see it its unique polished reflection.

4. Navy Pier

Opened in 1916 as a shipping facility and amusement area, Navy Pier has turned into one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Chicago. The 50-acre pier jets out onto Lake Michigan and includes gardens, restaurants, shops, and event space. The most popular and easily recognizable spot on Navy Pier is the 150-foot Ferris wheel that welcomes guests to take a ride. There is an indoor botanical garden as well as a 3D Imax Theater and miniature golf. The Chicago Children’s Museum is on the pier making this a one-stop shop for an entire day of fun.

5. Lincoln Park Zoo

The Chicago Park District heavily sponsors the Lincoln Park Zoo making it a free attraction to visit within the city. The zoo is located within Lincoln Park situated along Lake Michigan and was opened in 1868 making it one of the oldest zoos in the country. It features 35 acres of exhibits with over 1,100 animals and 200 different species. One of the highlights of the zoo isn’t an animal but a Burr Oak Tree that dates back to 1830. The zoo is also known for its high caliber of gardens which include over 700 species of plants that offer aesthetic aspects to the zoo while also being safe for animals.

6. Wrigley Field

Home to the Chicago Cubs and built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the nation. The park is located on the North side of Chicago and sits on an irregular shaped city block. Wrigley Field holds 42,000 spectators, but the ballpark still feels quite small compared to other baseball parks in the nation.

Wrigley Field is well known for its ivy-covered brick outfield wall and the odd wind patterns caused by Lake Michigan. Enjoying a game is a great way to experience the outdoors as cooler temperatures cut down the stifling summer humidity.

Chicago is a bustling city of professionals and the headquarters for many companies and organizations. From sculptures to a free zoo, to piers you’ll be impressed with all of these six most iconic outdoor spots in Chicago.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 7, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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