Summer in Chicago is in full swing and we all know what that means: maximizing the outdoors! Did you know that there are 570 parks covering more than 7,600 acres of land throughout Chicago? You’ve probably ticked off all of the windy city’s crown jewels and must-dos but let’s be honest, even the locals have yet to discover the city’s hidden gems.
Therefore, we have compiled the ultimate list of non-touristy spots for you to check out this summer – perfect for those still feeling anxious about big crowds, post covid.
Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum
This cemetery’s pastoral landscape and historic significance create a tranquil place for Chicagoans to relax and enjoy the sound of the park’s 2000 trees. Graceland was established in 1860 and today, is owned and carefully maintained by the Trustees of the Graceland Cemetery Improvement Fund, a not-for-profit trust. Situated north of Wrigley Field, it’s a nice break from the roaring crowds.
When you think of a city zoo, Lincoln Park will most certainly come to mind, but we recommend you head over to Indian Boundary Park located south of Evanston instead. This discrete, hidden gem might only occupy a square block but is full of surprises. You can both enjoy being face-to-face with a real-life petting zoo and take part in theater, arts and music lessons at the Cultural Center.
This beautiful waterfront park commemorates the life of Milton Lee Olive – a Chicagoan, a Vietnam veteran and the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor. The park’s openness and unobstructed views facing Chicago’s iconic skyline create a powerful yet soothing atmosphere.
South Garden at Art Institute of Chicago
Providing you a peaceful enclave from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Art Institute of Chicago’s South Garden and its rows of honey locust trees is an under-appreciated project and destination. Don’t be fooled by the garden’s simplistic, clean look, its architecture and landscape are actually very complex as it was built atop an underground parking garage. The garden is situated south of Millennium Park and opens onto Michigan Avenue making it the perfect city-break garden sanctuary.
Situated north of Albany Park, Gompers Park natural area is 6.2 acres of native woodland, wetland, lagoons, fishing docks, waterfalls, prairie and more. This Disney-esk enchanting forest is not a drill and is the perfect green space for your family to let loose. In all honesty, its low-key reputation remains a mystery to us.
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