Updated Apr 27, 2023 - Things to Do

Tournament: Lincoln Park crowned Chicago's best park

Lincoln Park. Photo: Jumping Rocks/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Each month, we bring you a no-holds-barred tournament to celebrate all things Chicago.

State of play: Last month, it was Chicago's best sports team, and before that downtown's best building. This month's is a doozy: Chicago's best park.

Zoom out: Our "city in a garden" boasts parks known around the world for their exquisite design, prodigious green space and breathtaking views.

Of note: The tournament is now complete. View the winner, and past rounds, below:

Bracket: Axios Visuals

The champion

After a heated tournament to crown Chicago's best park, we have a winner.

By the numbers: With a staggering 77% of the vote, you chose Lincoln Park!

Between the lines: It's not a surprise, since Chicagoans love our beautiful park stretched along the North Side.

What they're saying: Reader Rene R. summed it up with her response yesterday: "Lincoln Park is a neighborhood in of itself. Locals swarm on nice days to run, walk, people watch, roller blade, picnic, whatever."

  • "Millennium park is a tourist trap. Nuf said."

The bottom line: As the weather warms up, let's all get out and enjoy Lincoln Park and all the great green spaces our city has to offer.

Thanks for playing! We'll be back next month with another Chicago tournament.

Round 4: The championship

We've whittled down the top 16 parks to the final two: It's Millennium Park vs. Lincoln Park for all the marbles!

  • Millennium bested Humboldt Park (62%-38%).
  • While Lincoln Park mopped the floor with Grant Park (77%-23%).
Two side-by-side photos of Chicago parks. On the left, a large group of people surround the "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Millennium Park. On the right, two people walk along a nature trail by a pond in Lincoln Park.
Left: Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Millennium Park. Right: The nature boardwalk in Lincoln Park. Photos: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images and Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The bottom line: There's not much left to say about these two parks. You know the history, you know the attractions.

  • You know your favorite.

Voting for the final round is now closed.

Round 3: Final Four

We're down to the final four in our quest to choose Chicago's best park.

How we got here: In a stunning upset, Humboldt Park upended Jackson Park.

  • Millennium Park, Grant Park and Lincoln Park all won big, setting up a tremendous semifinal.

Humboldt Park vs. Millennium Park:

Side-by-side photos. On the left, a black-and-white photo shows two hat-wearing women, one carrying an umbrella, and two men sit on stones by the Humboldt Park lagoon. On the right, a large group of people surrounds the "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Millennium Park.
Left: People enjoy Chicago's Humboldt Park in this historical photo. Right: Anish Kapoor's 'Cloud Gate' sculpture in Millennium Park. Photos: Chicago Park District Special Collections/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images and Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

It's the new sparkly downtown park versus the classic Chicago park. Millennium Park is beautiful and a world-class addition to the city, but Humboldt brings together all the things a Chicago park needs to be successful: green space, a lagoon and, of course, softball diamonds.

Grant Park vs. Lincoln Park:

Two side-by-side photos. On the left, the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park sprays water, with the Chicago skyline in the background. On the right, two people walk on the nature boardwalk in Lincoln Park, with the skyline in the background.
Left: The Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Right: The nature boardwalk in Lincoln Park. Photos: Dea/S. Amantini/Getty Images and Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Image

This is an epic matchup. Grant Park has a famous fountain; Lincoln Park has a zoo. Grant Park hosts major events; going to Lincoln Park is a major event. Grant Park has great views; Lincoln Park does, too. This is tough.

Voting for the third round is now closed.

Round 2: Elite Eight

A pond and green grass in Lincoln Park on a clear, sunny day.
A nice summer view in Lincoln Park. Photo: Jumping Rocks/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There were no big surprises in the first round of our tournament to crown Chicago's best park.

  • The major parks moved to the second round with ease.

The biggest margin: Lincoln Park defeated South Shore Cultural Center Park 85% to 15%.

The closest margin: Washington Park beat McKinley Park 58% to 42%.

The biggest surprise: Not enough love for Monica's favorite, Olive Park. Grant Park won in a landslide.

Now it gets much harder.

The Elite Eight matchups include:

  • Millennium Park vs. Douglass Park
  • Jackson Park vs. Humboldt Park
  • Lincoln Park vs. Garfield Park
  • Grant Park vs. Washington Park

Voting for the second round is now closed.

Round 1: Sweet 16

Given that there are over 600 city parks, it's hard to narrow the tournament list to a top 16.

  • But we did our best to compile an eclectic array of favorites (Lincoln and Grant Parks) and underdogs (Winnemac, Ping Tom) and, of course, Monica's secret love (Olive Park).

Of note: We did not (for the most part) feature the lakefront nor trails like The 606.

We asked you for your recommendations, which included:

  • Michael C.: "River Park runs from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr, and it is one of Chicago's hidden gems. It has the Chicago River running through it and a wonderful nature path that you can run on, bike and walk your dog."
  • Diane D.: "Ping Tom Park in Chinatown is just magical! Like a secret garden in the middle of Chicago. And little Cottontail Park at 15th and Dearborn is a well utilized gem that many people have no idea is there."
  • Gene T.: "The jewel of Chicago: Lincoln Park."

Voting for the first round is now closed.

Editor's note: This story was updated with tournament rounds.

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