True Chicagoans will look past the sprawling skyscrapers and look toward hidden treasures around the city that make this bustling city a tranquil serenity. There are a vast amount of parks throughout the city, so we’ve narrowed down our favorite ones. Here are the best parks in Chicago if you want to spend a day playing a game of softball or lay down and do nothing, impress a first date with a beautiful picnic. Take advantage of all the gems Chicago has in store.
1. Washington Square Park
While less Instagram-worthy than the one in NYC, Washington Square Park is still a staple in the Gold Coast. Between Clark and Delaware, Washington Square is one of Chicago’s oldest existing parks.
In the center of four grass areas lies McCormick Fountain, the centerpiece and eye-capturing piece. During the summer, they host a wide variety of events such as concerts, yoga, plays, and more—all for free.
📍Location: 901 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60610
2. Millennium Park
Whether you’re a local or visiting—we can all agree that visiting Millenium Park is one thing everyone should do. Millenium has many prominent features—it is home to iconic structures like the Buckingham Fountain, Rose Garden, and music Chicago music festival Lollapalooza.
📍Location: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
3. Grant Park
On the other side of Millennium Park is its sister, Grant Park. It’s cemented as a staple and one of the beloved parks in Chicago for tourists and locals alike. It features a large auditorium that hosts musicians, orchestras, movies for the whole park, and more.
Across from the auditorium is a large stage that bands will play at. If you walk a bit further, you’ll find yourself at the Bean—the mirror cloud sculpture that has people staring at themselves all hours of the day.
📍Location: 232 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
4. Steelworkers Park
Remnant elements of the steel industry edge the park, and the most striking feature is the series of gigantic concrete walls. What makes Steelworkers Park unique from other parks, it’s right along the juncture between the Calumet River and Lake Michigan—so when a Chicago beach nearby is too crowded, you should head here.
📍Location: E 87th St at Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL 60617
5. The 606
What was once a Chicago abandoned rail line is now the 606. Those near Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt, and nearby neighborhoods have a luxurious 2.7-mile multi-use recreational trail and park, which can even be used as an alternative transportation path. After picnicking at the park, head to a restaurant or Chicago brewery.
📍Location: 1805 N Ridgeway Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
6. Indian Boundary Park
Situated in Little India, Indian Boundary is tucked away in the West Ridge community and is 13.22 acres. This community treasure is beyond the quaint Tudor-style field house. Visitors can discover a beautifully restored nature area, a duck-filled lagoon, a children’s spray pool, four tennis courts, and more.
📍Location: 2500 W Lunt Ave, Chicago, IL 60645
7. Union Park
One of the best parks in Chicago lies near West Loop, where you can spend the day paying out a blanket and packing a charcuterie board. Or you can spend the day playing tennis, baseball, or another activity on their tennis courts, baseball fields, swimming pool, playground, an athletic field for football or soccer, and basketball courts. Afterward, you should head to Fulton Market for some of the best bites and sips.
📍Location: 1501 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60606
8. Oz Park
Located in Lincoln Park, Oz Park is one of the best-themed parks in Chicago, as it celebrates “The Wizard of Oz.” You might even get to see a screening as they play movies in the park annually. With a “Dorothy’s Playlot” filled with play equipment for the little ones to climb, swing, and run.
In the “Emerald Garden,“ you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon among the beautiful flowers. Or stroll through the park and be greeted by statues of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and everyone’s favorite, Dorothy & Toto.
📍Location: 2021 N Burling St, Chicago, IL 60614
9. Lincoln Park
Some would say Lincoln Park is Chicago’s central Park. It boasts a garden conservatory featuring hundreds of tropical palms, exotic plants, and ancient ferns, a magnificent Lily Pond that is a serene escape from the city, and a zoo that happens to be free. There is also so much more, but we don’t want to give it all away—it’s meant to be explored.
📍Location: 500-5700 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
10. Northerly Island Park
Northerly Island Park is situated along the Lake Michigan shoreline on Chicago’s stunning Museum Campus. Famous architect Daniel H. Burnham created Northerly Island as a series of manmade islands stretching between Grant and Jackson Parks.
This lakefront Natural Area features prairie and savanna, a 5-acre pond, and strolling paths, offering gorgeous views for observing native wildlife. What’s even better is near the park is an extraordinary outdoor venue to see some of the best concerts in Chicago right by the water.
📍Location: 1521 S Linn White Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
What’s scintillating about Chicago is that even in a city scaled with skyscrapers, there are acres of luscious greenery plotted throughout. Head to one of these parks in Chicago to escape the commotion for some serenity.