Apr 18, 2022 - Things to Do

Local's guide to the best parks in Illinois

Park with pond

Monica fell in love with The Arboretum in Urbana, Illinois, featuring ponds, trails, gardens, weeping willows, and this gazebo next to the Japan House cultural center, built by Nick Offerman — yes, that Nick Offerman. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

We recently told you about the joy Chicagoans derive from local parks, which got us wondering about the most-loved parks in the city and state.

  • Thanks for sending over an amazing list of so many places we'd never even heard of.

Cindy J: "Humboldt Park. Love to walk around the lagoon with my dog Ginger, bring bread to toss to the ducks and geese. Stop at one of the ethnic food trucks for a bite to eat. Perfect day!"

  • Michael M also loves Humboldt Park.

Kelsey: "Jackson Park, Bobolink Meadows, and the Promontory Point/Lake Shore running path flow really nicely into each other, creating a very different feel for a simple walk."

Hugo E: "Rock Cut State Park (in Winnebago County) is such an amazing escape and not too far from the city."

Celeste D: "Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford and Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, Illinois (my grandfather was the head forest ranger there)."

Karen R: "Park 566 (with prairies, savannah, and birding areas) on Chicago's lakefront."

Kitty S: "Horner Park actually has a hill — in Chicago."

Robert H: "The Chicago Botanic Garden, Morton Arboretum, Standish Park Arboretum in Galesburg, and Washington Square Park in Ottawa."

Paul M: "Indian Ridge Marsh is one of my favorite places in Chicago. Compact and remote."

Wayne S: "Ferne Clyffe State Park, in southern Illinois; fabulous nature trails."

Daniel K: "Volo Bog, the only open-water quaking bog in Illinois."

Sharon P: "Allerton Park, (in Monticello) — you've got 20 yards of peony-walled garden with espaliered trees, a full dog garden, and more. Just about two to three hours away."

Hillary M: "Montrose Point and "Magic Hedge" Bird Sanctuary for great birding."

Harry K: "Washington Park in Springfield."

Greyson A: "Shabbona Lake recreation area in Shabbona, Illinois."

💭 Monica's thought bubble: I'm challenging all of us to check out five parks you've never visited before by the end of the year.

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