Chicago is well known for its wide variety of outdoor places to enjoy nature. Although winters can be quite dreary, the rest of the year sees plenty of sunshine to enjoy the outdoors.
Many parks are scattered throughout the city to encourage residents to get outdoors no matter the weather. Whether you are planning to move to Chicago, or just moved to Chicago, these are the best places for new residents to enjoy nature.
1. Lincoln Park
— Lincoln Park Zoo (@lincolnparkzoo) November 16, 2018
Home to the famous Lincoln Park Zoo, this area features many of the nightlife events that keep Chicago busy well past sunset. Lincoln Park includes easy access to plenty of dining options and entertainment. You’ll find many concert opportunities at Lincoln Hall as well as plenty of comedy clubs and bars as well. Lincoln Park also features the Chicago History Museum and the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
2. Northerly Island
— Chicago Architecture Center (@chiarchitecture) July 12, 2017
Covering 91-acres of space, Northerly Island isn’t an island but a peninsula that spreads out into Lake Michigan from the Museum Campus. You’ll find plenty of paths for walking as well as play areas for little ones. Fishing is a favorite activity from Northerly Island with a magnificent view of the Chicago skyline. The Alder Planetarium, on the Northeast point of the peninsula, is where you’ll find another great beach on of Northerly Island that feels far away from the city.
3. North Avenue Beach
Located on the shoreline of Lincoln Park, North Avenue Beach is one of the city’s most popular beaches with over 22,000 square feet of space. You’ll find the beach full of other residents and visitors during warm sunny weekends as well as plenty of activities that are on the beach on weeknights. Rentals for jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boards are available from the beach as well as plenty of outdoor exercise activities like yoga and dodgeball.
4. Lakefront Trail
One of the most popular spots in the city is Lakefront Trail that runs along Lake Michigan and Lakeshore Drive. Many residents use the trail on a daily basis for either jogging, walking, or biking. The paved pathway is an expansive 18 miles that run along many of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It is an impressive addition for those living within the city limits to get out and enjoy nature at its finest.
5. Millennium Park
Located on Lake Michigan, Millennium Park has become a top-rated tourist attraction in Chicago. Featuring many infamous landmarks in the city including Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) as well as Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, and the McCormick Ice Rink. Millennium Park was opened in 2004 and is a somewhat new addition to the full range of outdoor attractions within the Windy City.
The entire park is built on top of a railroad yard and parking garage and is considered to be one of the most extensive green roofs in the world. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts numerous concerts and visitors can enjoy the more than 24-acres of space with views of both the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.
6. Morton Arboretum
— MortonArboretum (@MortonArboretum) November 5, 2018
This beautiful collection of trees was founded in 1922 by Joy Morton, founder of Arbor Day. Morton Arboretum is a place for visitors to learn about plants as well as protect the environment. The 1,700-acre space features more than 220,000 plants as well as a 4-acre Children’s Garden and 1-acre Maze Garden. Guests will also enjoy the 16 miles of trails that take you deep into the forest as well as the educational opportunities in the library and plant clinic. The Morton Arboretum is located 25 miles West of Chicago in the suburb of Lisle.
7. Garfield Park Conservatory
— Garfield Park Conservatory (@gpconservatory) July 13, 2018
First opened in 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory is known as “landscape art under glass.” The conservatory features 2-acres of public greenhouse space as well as 10 acres of surrounding gardens. Garfield Park Conservatory is within Garfield Park on the West side of Chicago. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an internationally significant horticultural facility.
Many tropical plants that typically can’t survive in Chicago’s climate are available to the public while in the greenhouse part of the conservatory. There are other themed parts of the conservatory desert themed gardens as well as a Children’s Garden.
8. Chicago Botanic Garden
More than 1 million people visited the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2017 making it a popular destination for both residents and tourists alike. The garden opened over 40 years ago and had grown to encompass 27 gardens and four natural areas on over 385 acres.
The Bonsai Collection is one of the most popular spots within the Chicago Botanic Garden. Active research and conservation efforts are being made within the garden as scientists learn more about plants. The garden is located on the Northeast side of the city and features nine islands of gardens that include 6 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
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