Best Public Parks to Visit While Staying in Chicago

Jun, 22 2016

Chicago is one of the four greenest cities in the country. It is also the only one of these fours cities located east of the Rocky Mountains.  There are more than 8000 acres throughout Chicago that make up 570 parks, not including the 31 beaches, two famous conservatories, and at least 50 nature areas.

During the 1830s, the men who made up the city’s emerging government adopted a new city motto. “Urbs in Horto,” which translates from Latin as “City in a Garden.” That slogan captured the essence of everything that the landscape architects envisioned as they laid out the parks, and it is no less important today.

Grant Park: Attractions and Special Features

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Located at 337 East Randolph St. (312-742-3918), Grant Park’s 319-acres occupies everything from Randolph Street to the North and Roosevelt Road to the South. Michigan Avenue is the Park’s western border, while Lake Michigan is the eastern border.

Grant Park, which was one of the city’s first parks, was named after Civil War General and U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant. Located in the heart of downtown, Grant Park was originally designed to create a separation between the tranquility of Lake Michigan and all of the hustle and bustle of commercial activity that was, and continues to represent, the essence of Chicago’s Loop.

Grant Park is home to the annual Taste of Chicago Festival that takes place between July 6 and July 10, 2016. Now in its 36th year, Taste of Chicago is the world's largest outdoor food festival. The Lollapalooza Music Festival has been a popular Grant Park tradition since 2005. The Grant Park Music Festival is a long-standing tradition for the park.

Iconic Chicago attractions that lie within the boundaries of Grant Park include Buckingham Fountain, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the Museum Campus. Park Hours are between 6 AM and 11 PM daily.  

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain is one of largest public park fountains in the world. It was designed to be Grant Park’s focal point. Its Rococo wedding cake-style design was a gift to the city from Kate Sturges Buckingham, who gave it in memory of her brother Clarence.

Since its dedication in 1927, the fountain has operated between April and October of every year. Water displays occur at 20-minute intervals during which the fountain shoots water 150 feet into the air. Between 9 PM and 10 PM every night during the six months of operation, the fountain puts on a nighttime light and music show for park visitors and passersby.

Millennium Park

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Millennium Park is the second most popular tourist attraction in Illinois and Navy Pier is the most popular attraction within. Millennium Park starts at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street and occupies the land between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.

Located at 201 East Randolph Street (312-742-1168), Millennium Park consists of 25 acres in the heart of Grant Park. The park, which is known as Chicago's premier green space, combines areas of spectacular landscaping, gorgeous architecture, and some unique displays of public art. The ceremonial grand opening took place on July 16, 2004, during a three-day affair that brought 300,000 visitors to the park.

During the summer months, Millennium Park visitors can attend free nighttime concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. From Tuesday through Friday, during daytime hours, visitors can listen to open rehearsals of the Grant Park Symphony and Chorus as musicians rehearse for weekly concerts. The Grant Park Orchestra only performs during summer. Millennium Park is no less active during the winter months, an ice skating rink at the northeast corner of the park encourages park visitors to participate in a fun winter activity in the heart of the city.

The Lurie Garden, The Cloud Gate, and The Crown Fountain

The Lurie Garden has seasonal floral displays and monthly garden walks that both visitors and Chicago natives love to enjoy.

The Cloud Gate, known by Chicago natives as “The Bean” is a stainless steel sculpture that was created by Anish Kapoor. The Cloud Gate is made up of an estimated 200 stainless steel plates, weighing nearly 100 tons.

Artist Joan Plensa created the Crown Fountain, a shallow reflecting pool that lies between two 50-foot towers that feature a lighted display of Chicago's faces. During the summer, the display changes every five minutes.

Lincoln Park

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Lincoln Park is another park that occupies a huge portion of the city’s northeast side. The park starts at the Ohio Street beach in Streeterville and continues all the way north to Ardmore Avenue in the Edgewater area.

The heart of Lincoln Park lies in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood. Three of the park's most beloved attractions include the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Farm in the Zoo, and the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

The Lincoln Park Zoo occupies 35 acres in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. It is located at 2001 North Clark Street (312-742-2000). Founded in 1868, it is one of the nation’s oldest public zoos.

The Farm in the zoo is a fun family-friendly adventure because visitors get to see and pet farm animals, and they can also watch baby chicks emerge from newly hatched eggs, dairy cow milkings and much more.

The Lincoln Park Conservatory, which is located at 2391 Stockton Drive, (312-742-7736), is open every day between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM.

Chicago’s magnificent parks have a lot to offer.  Most of it is easy to get to, and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet. While you’re enjoying an extended stay in Chicago, you can count on Pinnacle Furnished Suites to provide you with luxurious and affordable corporate housing.

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