With a population of more than 2.6 million people in just 234 square miles, Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the United States. While its urban highlights offer much to enjoy, it’s also important to find green spaces that you can retreat to in this type of cityscape. When it comes to parks, Chicago doesn’t disappoint. There are dozens of destinations that you can enjoy with everything from refreshing spray pads to inspiring walking trails.

North Park Village Nature Center Park

chicago parks sign
Image via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 by Raed Mansour

The North Park Village Nature Center Park encompasses 46 acres within the 155-acre North Park Village. The Nature Center is part of a nature preserve that brings a taste of untamed nature into the largely urban landscape of Chicago. Inside the Nature Center, you’ll find interactive displays, a discovery room, and a table of hands-on nature items that visitors can touch and explore. The facility also hosts a variety of programs with options for everyone from preschoolers to adults.

The surrounding landscape includes a prairie, savanna, wetlands, and woodlands. The Walking Stick Woods is a 12-acre area within the Nature Center Park that has cultural features, nature play areas, and meandering trails that are ideal for families. The North Park Village Nature Center Park is at 5801 Pulaski Road.

Indian Boundary Park and Cultural Center

The Indian Boundary Park and Cultural Center is a popular destination year-round. The park features an imaginative playground complete with bridges, tunnels, and wooden castle towers. Nearby, you’ll find a miniature zoo that’s home to sheep, goats, chickens, and llamas. The peaceful pond is also home to families of ducks. A sandbox and four tennis courts offer additional opportunities to play. In summer, kids can even cool off in the spray pool.

This 13.22-acre park also includes its own Cultural Center which hosts free performances by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and special productions from Fury Theater. The Center offers a number of creative classes, including voice, piano, dance, painting, and various crafts, such as stained glass and weaving. You can find the Indian Boundary Park and Cultural Center at 2500 West Lunt Avenue.

Jackson Park

Covering over 551 acres, Jackson Park is an expansive destination. On Wooded Island, you can visit the Japanese Garden, also known as the Osaka Garden or Garden of the Phoenix. This park is home to the Phoenix Temple that the Japanese Government built for the World’s Columbian Exposition. Elegant Japanese gardens surround the temple and clusters of cherry trees transform the park into a stunning landscape of blossoms from late April to early May.

Another highlight of the park is the Bobolink Meadow which covers 170 acres and includes a picturesque mulch trail with views of the East Lagoon and Japanese Garden. Additional features include a golf course, basketball and tennis courts, multi-purpose fields, three harbors, and the 63rd Street Beach. Jackson Park is located at 6401 South Stony Island Avenue.

Palmisano Park

The site that’s now Palmisano Park was formerly a quarry. The resulting hole left behind was then used as a landfill for clean debris from construction. In the late 1990s, Site Design Group began the site’s transformation into a park by adding over 40,000 square feet of clean topsoil and creating a 33-foot hill. Site Design Group also left some of the remaining quarry walls in place to create a catch-and-release fishing pond.

Rainwater in the park is diverted to a meandering stream, and 1.7 miles of trails made from reclaimed materials provide access to this piece of parkland. You can enjoy the crushed stone running path, walkways made from recycled timber and metal grating, and smooth concrete trails, all of which provide scenic vistas to enjoy. The park features a multi-purpose athletic field as well. You can find Palmisano Park at 2700 Halstead Street.

Burnham Park

Burnham Park covers more than 650 acres along Chicago’s Lakefront. It’s home to Promontory Point, a manmade peninsula that juts out into the water. Dotted with verandas, the landmark is a popular wedding venue. Burnham Park also includes beaches at 12th Street, 31st Street, and 57th Street. At 35th Street, you’ll find a large concrete skate park, and at 51st Street there’s a model boat pond. Sprawling natural areas and bird sanctuaries are included in this park as well, making it a versatile destination that’s perfect for a picnic and a stroll. You can find Burnham Park on South Shore Drive.

Sherman Park

Home to a wealth of highlights, Sherman Park offers facilities for sports, swimming, recreation, and more. Within its 57 acres, you’ll find two gymnasiums, a fitness center, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, and baseball diamonds. Children have a spray pool and three playgrounds to enjoy. Visitors of all ages can make a splash in the public swimming pool. When you need to escape from the sun, you can drop into the Sherman Park Library for a break. Thoughtfully constructed, Sherman Park is a flexible destination that you can enjoy all day. Sherman Park is at 1301 West 52nd Street.

Garfield Park

Garfield Park is home to the historic Golden Dome field house which contains a boxing center, fitness center, gymnasium, dance studio, grand ballroom, auditorium, and meeting facilities. Outside, visitors can enjoy the colorful flower gardens and a peaceful fishing lagoon. Playgrounds and the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden offer plenty of room for younger children to play. Football, soccer, and baseball fields and tennis courts cater to athletes, while the swimming pool is a popular feature anyone can enjoy.

The Garfield Park Conservatory is another highlight of the park, which provides a green space year-round. There are 10 acres of outdoor gardens and several indoor rooms filled with lush blooms. You can explore everything from the lush tropical Palm House to the dry Desert House and several exhibits that fall somewhere in between. The Garfield Park Conservatory has one of the largest indoor gardens in the world. The conservatory is open Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are required to visit.

These are some of our top choices for parks in Chicago. Did we include your favorites? Contact our team at Allied Plumbing & Heating Supply and let us know so we can always offer the best suggestions to our customers.