Health + Fitness

Relax Yourself: Best Parks in Chicago

View of city skyline from Lincoln Park in Chicago (Photo: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock.com)

If there’s one thing Midwesterners know how to do, it’s savor the sunshine. From the first 60 degree day of almost-spring until the last autumn leaf concedes to the oncoming winter, Chicagoans take full advantage of all outdoor-appropriate weather.

Known as “The City That Works,” it’s important that all hardworking Chicagoans and visitors have ample opportunities to wind down. Take a stroll down Chicago’s Lakefront Trail in any direction, and you’ll hit mile after mile of relaxing, beautiful city parks. While it’s true you could stop in any point in this network of parks to enjoy peaceful green space and views of the lake and skyline, a couple of parks distinguish themselves from the crowd.

Stop and Smell the Roses, Literally

As a whole, Lincoln Park encompasses a staggering 1,208 acres of Chicago lakefront land containing an expansive range of points of interest and amenities. To make the magnitude of this amazing and historic park manageable, let’s focus on just the section adjacent to the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

In just this sliver of Lincoln Park, there is a special place for everyone to walk, sit or dip as they unwind and take in the beauty of nature. One tranquil getaway in this section of sprawling park is The Lincoln Park Conservatory. Meander through the diverse array of flora, let your mind wander and quite literately stop and smell the roses. Not far from the conservatory sits the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and the North Pond Nature Sanctuary, both tucked away from much of the hustle and bustle of the more well-trod paths and surrounded by ample benches and rocks to take a seat, take a break and appreciate the environment.

Secretly Spy the Chicago Skyline

South of the city, but still on the lake, the beautiful, serene Burnham Park is hidden away behind the tourist traffic of the Museum Campus and McCormick Place Convention Center.

Named for and dreamed up by architect Daniel H. Burnham, famous for his vision of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Burnham Park is a peaceful and generally uncrowded park from which to enjoy the lake and a spectacular view of the skyline from the south. Sit among the reeds and flowers in the bird and butterfly sanctuary or venture even further away from the noise of the city onto the man-made peninsula, Promontory Point.

Despite it’s rich history, Burnham Park often feels like a well-kept secret, known mostly by the city’s more regular lake front path explorers.

While the shores of Lake Michigan are a natural place for a beautiful park, there are dozens of green gems within the urban jungle itself. Follow the Chicago River or explore any neighborhood and you are sure to find respite in any number of spectacular public park spaces featuring sculpture gardens, conservatories and forest preserves.