11 Best Parks in Chicago in 2023 (By a Local)
Chicago is known as the “City in a Garden.” There are countless parks in Chicago, and each has something unique to offer.
As a Chicago local of five years, I know my way around the best Chicago parks.
Whether you want to see beautiful gardens, relax in the many green spaces, or visit some of Chicago’s biggest attractions, I can tell you that there is a park for everyone.
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11 Best Chicago Parks
A large downtown Chicago park that is home to some of the city’s finest museums and festivals.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Grant Park Website
Grant Park is known as “Chicago’s front yard,” and consists of a massive 319 acres of space. It is home to a variety of well-known landmarks in the city, including the Museum Campus and the Art Institute of Chicago. It also includes smaller parks, including Maggie Daley Park and Millennium Park.
This park is the location for many renowned Chicago festivals, including the Taste of Chicago in July and Lollapalooza in August. Even when there aren’t organized events, you can create your own adventures at the skatepark, Crown Fountain, and other places.
The stunning Buckingham Fountain is the centerpiece of Grant Park. This is an awesome water display that starts every 20 minutes. The jets on this marble fountain shoot water 150 feet into the air! Lighting and music add to the wonder every night between early May and mid-October.
Just next to the fountain is a serene rose garden, an example of peaceful green space coexisting with glitz and glamor.
Downtown Chicago’s “crown jewel,” with stunning public art and performance venues.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Millennium Park Website
Millennium Park encompasses 24.5 acres of space close to the Chicago Loop and Michigan Avenue. This park draws people in throughout the year.
Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean,” is a 110-ton stainless steel sculpture that resembles a giant drop of liquid mercury. It’s great for a selfie—the mirror-like surface captures your face with Chicago’s skyscrapers in the background!
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, right in the heart of the park, is the location of some of the most well-known outdoor concerts and festivals in the city. The Grant Park Music Festival is one example. It’s a 10-week series featuring free performances by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.
At Crown Fountain, you can enjoy the illusion of faces spouting water at you through LED screens. Lastly, Lurie Garden is a great place to relax and see all sorts of plants on Millennium Park’s southern edge.
📚 Related Reading: Wondering where to stay to see the Chicago parks of your choice? Check out my guide to the best areas and places to stay in Chicago!
Maggie Daley Park
A section of Millennium Park with interactive activities for outdoorsy visitors.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Maggie Daley Park Website
Right next to Millennium Park with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two, Maggie Daley Park is a fairly new 20-acre park. It is famous for the creatively curving quarter-mile skating rink – used for roller skating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. At the center is a 40-foot rock climbing wall.
Children will get lost in the whimsical magic of the Play Garden, which includes a giant pirate ship. It contains rope bridges, climbing areas, big slides, and even an Enchanted Forest with upside-down plants. If it’s warm, they can cool off in the Watering Hole.
The 18-hole mini golf course is something to see in itself, with miniature replicas of iconic Chicago landmarks.
A north side park with a zoo, many outdoor activities, and a stunning skyline view.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Lincoln Park Website
This popular Chicago park was named for President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Park is the largest public park in Chicago, located in the popular neighborhood that shares its name. Lincoln Parks occupies a whopping 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan’s shores.
The Lincoln Park Zoo, free to the public, is one of the best attractions here. It’s one of the oldest zoos in the United States and home to 230 species of animals. There’s an educational children’s zoo/farm that shows how farms operate.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory (also free!) is also worth visiting, with a glasshouse, multiple indoor gardens, and the Formal Garden outdoors.
This huge park features many walking trails for exploration as well as quick access to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. In addition, it has a golf course, skate park, and baseball fields. Lincoln Park is also home to the Chicago History Museum and the quaint Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.
A park in East Garfield with plenty of activities and an astounding conservatory.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Garfield Park Website
There is no shortage of things to do in the 173 acres of the west side’s Garfield Park. It is located on Central Park Ave. There are plenty of facilities, including a fitness center, basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. There is also a playground, a fishing pond, and a series of paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
This park is also home to the Garfield Park Conservatory, in the park’s northwest corner. This Conservatory houses 1.6 acres of indoor garden space, making it one of the largest indoor gardens in the world.
You can also explore the 12 acres of outdoor gardens. Here, you can see around 600 species of plants from all over the world. They are housed in spaces set to the appropriate temperatures from the plants’ native locations. Adjacent to the Conservatory is the historic Garfield Park Gold Dome Fieldhouse. It contains a sophisticated ballroom.
A south side park containing a museum and beaches, best known for a Japanese garden.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Jackson Park Website
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Jackson Park is 600 acres of space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. It was the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Today, an iconic gold statue remains from the event.
The Museum of Science and Industry is located at the northern end. There’s also a driving range, an 18-hole golf course, walking paths, sports fields, a community farm, and a dog-friendly playground. The park also encompasses three of the best South Side Chicago beaches: 57th Street, 63rd Street, and 67th Street beaches.
The Wooded Island is a great place to get lost in nature. It has the breathtaking Osaka Garden and gorgeous cherry blossom trees that bloom in the late spring. Dozens of species of birds live here, making for amazing bird-watching opportunities. Sit in the teahouse, or walk around and admire the rock gardens.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
A Chinatown park with a recreation fieldhouse, beautiful views, and kayaking options.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Ping Tom Memorial Park Website
This is a small park of 17 acres, located in Chinatown. Its namesake is Ping Tom, a Chinatown Civic leader who is responsible for the creation of this space in the community.
All you need to do is take the Chicago Water Taxi to Chinatown, and it’ll stop right at the famous pagoda-style pavilion in this park. This is the best way to get here, as it can be somewhat hard to find if you drive.
Kayaking is very popular in this park, as it is right off the Chicago River. You can do plenty of other physical activities in the recently added fieldhouse, which is home to an indoor pool and fitness center. Enjoy a view of the beautiful bamboo gardens, the river, and the Chicago skyline against the sky.
A park with a plethora of activities along the shores of Lake Michigan.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Burnham Park Website
This park encompasses almost 600 acres of lakefront space. It extends north to south along Lake Michigan, from Grant Park to Jackson Park. It’s home to Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play. The park’s original purpose was to create permanent green space for native plants and animals.
On the northern end is Northerly Island, a 119-acre man-made peninsula that stretches into Lake Michigan. It has fishing piers, public art, and the Huntington Bank Pavilion. This pavilion is an outdoor amphitheater and a popular performance venue.
There’s another performance venue to the south as well – McCormick Place. This complex is also home to the Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary, a great place for nature lovers.
Going further south, there is a marina where you can rent water sports equipment and the beloved Burnham Skate Park. The southern culmination of Burnham Park is the beautiful Promontory Point, with a picturesque view of the city.
A green oasis with an inland beach and prairie-style structures on Chicago’s west side.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Humboldt Park Website
Humboldt Park occupies 197 acres of land in the west side neighborhood that shares the park’s name. The park includes bicycle paths, tennis courts, baseball fields, bird-watching areas, and an inland beach on a breathtaking lagoon. You can even see a replica of Wrigley Field that they call “Little Cubs Field” and compare it to the original north side baseball field.
This historic park was once the greatest public park in the United States. Along with the prairie-style community gardens is a significant example of prairie-style architecture: the Humboldt Park Boathouse. This park is home to the annual Puerto Rican Festival and Latin Jazz Festival.
📚 Related Reading: Not far from Humboldt Park are West Town and Wicker Park, two popular neighborhoods with lots to do.
A south side park that honors historical figures and includes an affordable golf course.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Marquette Park Website
There is a lot of beautiful greenery within the 315 acres of this park in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. It was named after Father Jacques Marquette, a famous French explorer.
You can just sit and enjoy the community garden, rose garden, and sparkling lagoon. Alternatively, you can go fishing, work up a sweat on the tennis and basketball courts, or cool down in the spray pool.
The nine-hole golf course is one of the cheapest options in the Chicago Park District. Anyone who enjoys fishing will see that there is a diverse assortment of fish species in the fishing waters. This park is also home to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial.
Indian Boundary Park
A north side park with a vintage playground, mini-zoo, and art/music classes.
📍 Google Maps | 🌳 Indian Boundary Park Website
This Rogers Park space is a great place to go for anyone who wants a park with a more old-fashioned feel. The playground includes no plastic and is made entirely of wood. Children can enjoy tunnels, swings, and slides. The recently added nature play area also offers a fun opportunity to explore.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the spray park, which features dancing bears to add whimsy to the experience. Enjoy the opportunity to hang out with goats, llamas, and chickens in the mini-zoo. Then, sit and relax at the picturesque pond, under the shade of the willow trees.
The Indian Boundary Cultural Center also offers a variety of art and music classes. These will make your visit no ordinary day at the park.
FAQs About Parks in Chicago
What famous park is in Chicago?
Millennium Park is the most famous Chicago park and one of the city’s most famous attractions. Millennium Park is home to the Cloud Gate sculpture and is the location of many free events. The park is known to people all over the world.
What is the largest public park in Chicago?
Lincoln Park is the largest public park in Chicago. Lincoln Park occupies 1,200 acres of space and seven miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
I hope you found what you needed in my guide to the best parks in Chicago.
Looking for tips on how to plan your trip to the Windy City? Check out our 5-day Chicago itinerary!
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