Become One With Nature

Four great outdoor spots to relax in Chicago

Thanks in part to architect Daniel Burnham, who likely spent plenty of time at the Chicago Athletic Association back around the time it opened in 1893, Chicago has ample green space. Burnham wrote into his plan for Chicago that the lakefront belongs to the people and should always be open to the public. That’s why Chicago has one of the greatest lakefronts of any major city in the world. Beyond the 18-mile stretch of beaches and lakefront, Chicago has dozens of parks and open space. Below are four worthy of visiting.

  • Jackson Park’s Osaka Japanese Gardens: Set in the shadow of the Museum of Science and Industry, which was originally the Palace of Fine Arts at the World’s Fair of 1893, sits the beautifully idyllic Japanese Gardens. The Japanese Gardens and its Wooded Island, which is currently being renovated, offer a Zen-like respite for anyone wandering through the park.
  • Northerly Island: This man-made island behind Soldier Field, the Shedd Aquarium and McCormick place is a true hidden treasure. The 91-acre peninsula, which once housed city airport Meigs Field, is now home to FirstMerit Bank Pavilion, an open-sky music venue. But what’s best is yet to come: 40 acres are currently being developed for camping, hiking and natural habitats.
  • Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool: If you blink as you walk or drive by the northern point of Lincoln Park Zoo at Fullerton and Cannon, you may miss the Lily Pool. Designed as an urban escape, this 2.7-acre example of Prairie School landscape architecture features limestone paths, curved walkways and, of course, lovely lily pads.
  • Garfield Park Conservatory: While actually not an outdoor park, the Garfield Park Conservatory lets you feel like you’re wandering outside at any time of the year. Set below glass ceilings, the conservatory, on the city’s Far West Side, houses thousands of plant species spread out over eight rooms, including the Fern and Palm rooms.

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