As restrictions start to ease, everyone is looking for a place to enjoy the great outdoors of Chicago. While still keeping in mind social distancing protocols, thankfully the Chicago Park District has plenty of local parks to choose from. With summer right around the corner, here is a guide to 8 great Chicago neighborhood parks for you to escape to with many different parks to choose from.
With summer fast approaching, Lincoln Park offers great outdoor activities. Named after the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, it stretches nearly six and a half miles along the Lakeshore. The park itself features the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, a golf course, biking trails and many beaches making for the perfect last minute destination.
Located in the East Garfield Park community on Chicago’s West Side, this urban park offers plenty of fun for the family. Featuring the historic Golden dome field house, Garfield Park also has outdoor activities such as baseball, boxing, basketball, tennis, swimming and a playground. Walk, jog or bike around the lagoon path and don’t forget about one of the largest and most stunning conservatories in the nation, the Garfield Park Conservatory. Known to be a gem for its art, plants and open spaces you can enjoy from both their indoor and outdoor gardens.
Visit Jackson Park to check out what nature has to offer with the Garden of Phoenix, also known as the Osaka garden. This authentic Japanese garden features a moon bridge, Shinto gate, traditional Japanese horticulture and an art installation from Yoko Ono. Across from Wooded Island you can find a mini waterfall and footbridges making for the perfect hideout from the City life. Jackson Park hosts special events throughout the year for the entire family. Other activities to consider are the golf course, gymnasium, artificial turf field, seasonal sports, arts & crafts, and tennis lessons.
South Shore Cultural Center Park
The South Shore Cultural Center is a Chicago Landmark in the South Shore community. Step outside to admire the green features the park has to offer including a nature sanctuary and a butterfly garden. Park-goers can also enjoy a golf course, beach, open spaces to take a stroll and to enjoy summer day picnics. Cultural programs and classes for all ages are offered such as dance, music, art, health, culinary arts, fitness, and more. South Shore has also recently added new adult art classes including textile art, drawing & painting, mixed media art, and ceramics.
Nestled in the heart of the Humboldt Park Community, this park has so many things to enjoy. Home to a large, historic fieldhouse with a fitness center and two gymnasiums the park also has outside recreational facilities including a replica of the Chicago Cubs stadium known as the “Little Cubs Field”. Check out the inland beach or grab a seat and make yourself comfortable at the boathouse while fishing by the lagoon. Enjoy a structure inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture that hosts both the Latin Jazz and the Puerto Rican Festival yearly. Humboldt Park hosts many family fun events throughout the year including Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park and other Night Out in the Parks events.
Douglas Park is a historic regional park with many recreational and cultural opportunities, featuring a fieldhouse with two gymnasiums, an auditorium, computer lab, and an outdoor pool with water spray features to cool off on a hot summer day. In addition, outdoors you can find the game day football stadium, a baseball field and a small golf putting range. During the summer you can catch one of their series of concerts and attend their annual Junta Hispana festival in July. Douglas Park is located in North Lawndale and is also home to the annual 3-day music festival every September, the Riot Fest specializing in rock, punk, alternative rock, and hip hop. Since the Riot Fest is still a few months away, be sure to check the website for updates on if the festival will be held this year due to COVID-19.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
What was once a railroad yard located along the edge of the South branch of the Chicago River in Armour Square, this park was named in honor of the leading force behind the creation of this community space, Ping Tom. Today, this park holds a children’s playground, community gathering areas and a Chinese landscape design with a pavilion that faces the Chicago river, making it a hotspot for kayakers. You can also find a newly added fieldhouse which holds a gymnasium, fitness center and indoor pool. Outside, the park offers an athletic field, walking paths by the river, and a boat house. Park goers also come to Ping Tom Park to enjoy Night Out in the Parks special events such as concerts, dance performances on the lawn, Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park screenings, and much more.
Dedicated to the Wizard of Oz, Oz Park makes for the perfect kid friendly area. Located right behind Lincoln Park High School, this park is everything an urban neighborhood park can dream of. With it’s community garden, tennis courts, and ball fields they offer organized activities as well. Take a stroll through the park where you will run into your favorite character statues of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and of course, Dorothy and Toto. In the “Emerald Garden”, families can enjoy a leisurely afternoon among the beautiful flowers.
NOTE: As the parks are still slowly opening back up, please make sure to check the park website for the most up to date information on park activities due to COVID-19.
Written by: Monica Liwag