When it incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago's official motto was "Urbs in Horto," a Latin phrase meaning “City in a Garden." Today, the Chicago Park District alone is home to more than 580 parks which covers more than 8,100 acres and includes two world-class conservatories – Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory.
Chicago's famous Millennium Park, the new 606 Trail (also known as the Bloomingdale Trail) and Lincoln Park may get the bulk of the green accolades by Chicago residents and visitors, but many of the city's neighborhoods also feature their own stunning parkland in their own backyards.
Here are five of our favorites.
The best way to reach this 17-acre urban oasis filled with quiet space, Chinese-themed architecture and an old bridge is by water taxi down the Chicago River.
A field house provides the community with an indoor pool and fitness center. This park is located along the Chicago River's Southern Branch, perfect for kayaking and other non-motorized boats.
This former quarry and landfill is in its third reincarnation. It's been transformed into a 27-acre park on the city's southwest side.
Visitors can enjoy 1.7 miles of paths, a fishing pond, and a hill with beautiful city views. Locals affectionately call the park “Mount Bridgeport."
At this sprawling 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, visitors can get lost in a forest, prairie, wetland and oak savanna in just one short stroll.
Many families bring their children to the annual Maple Syrup Festival so they can taste the sweet sap directly from the source. It's a peaceful sanctuary where we recommend visitors come armed with binoculars to enjoy the many birds who call this nature center home.
A stately and beautiful 1929 Tudor-Revival fieldhouse houses an arts and cultural center. The auditorium at Indian Boundary Park is often used for performances and the center includes spaces for stained glass and weaving classes, painting, piano, dance and more.
Just outside the fieldhouse is a magical nature play center where kids are invited to explore. Artists often use this restored nature area and duck-filled lagoon for inspiration, while children splash in the spray pool and people of all ages play on the four tennis courts on the premises.
Nestled between Grant Park to the north and Jackson Park to the south, Burnham Park runs 6 miles along Lake Michigan's shoreline and encompasses just shy of 600 acres which includes the Museum Campus and Northerly Island.
The grounds were named after Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and designed by Prairie-style architect Alfred Caldwell. Make it a point to check out Promontory Point for stunning skyline views.
All of Chicago's parks are free to the general public, including the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory, which are both well worth the visit in their respective namesake neighborhoods.
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