May 2, 2023 - Things to Do

8 best parks in Chicago

Wildflowers surround the covered, geometrical People's Gas Education Pavilion in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

The Peoples Gas Education Pavilion at Lincoln Park. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Chicago's motto "Urbs in Horto" translates to "City in a Garden." With over 600 parks, the city's green space is as important to residents as our food, culture and architecture.

Here are the city's top eight parks, as voted on by Axios Chicago readers.

1. Lincoln Park
A pond in Lincoln Park with the Chicago skyline in the background.
Photo: DEA / S. AMANTINI / Contributor via Getty Images

This beautiful North Side park is the largest park in Chicago, spanning more than 1,180 acres. It stretches 7 miles from Grand Avenue all the way north to Hollywood Avenue in Edgewater.

  • The park not only features amazing green space, but it has a lily pond, a conservatory, a nature museum and, of course, a zoo.
  • If you're hungry, you don't have to go far to find some of the best eats in the city.
2. Millennium Park
The "Cloud Gate" sculpture, also known as The Bean, is surrounded by tourists with Chicago's skyline in the background.
Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate." Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The downtown gem is a relatively recent addition to Chicago's parks system, built on top of an old train yard in 2004.

  • The park boasts gorgeous lake views and plenty of green space, but the main attraction is artist Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate," or as locals call it, "The Bean."
  • The bean-shaped sculpture attracts tourists from all around the world, while the Crown Fountain is public art that not only dazzles, but cools off kids in the summer.
3. Humboldt Park
People gather in Humboldt Park, having picnics and sitting in lawn chairs chatting.
Photo: Taylor Glascock/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Humboldt Park is exquisite, with fantastic architecture and a famous lagoon that once was the home to "Chance the Snapper."

  • The 197-acre park features soccer fields, walking trails and in the summer, music festivals.

Fun fact: Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist and geographer who the park is named after, never visited Chicago.

4. Grant Park
Water sprays from Chicago's Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, with the city's skyline in the background.
Buckingham Fountain. Photo: DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

The city's "front yard" is a wonderfully designed park that combines the utility of a downtown meeting spot with the charm of a neighborhood park.

  • Grant Park is home to Buckingham Fountain, the Petrillo Music Shell, Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza.

It's also home to 16-inch softball diamonds, which have been used by various leagues for over 100 years.

5. Jackson Park
A small wooden bridge stands over a pond inside The Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park.
Japanese Moon Bridge inside The Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Jackson Park is the crown jewel of the South Side and is the future home of the Obama Presidential Center.

  • The sprawling 542-acre South Side park features lush green space, a world renowned Japanese garden and cherry blossom trees near the Museum of Science and Industry. It also has a golf course.
6. Douglass Park
Photo of a rock concert in a park
A general view of atmosphere during Riot Fest 2021 at Douglass Park in 2021. Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

A neighborhood gem that attracts soccer camps and large music festivals, Douglass Park is the center of the North Lawndale and Little Village communities.

Fun fact: The park was initially named "South Park." It was renamed after former Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, but renamed again in 2020 for Anna and Frederick Douglass.

7. Garfield Park
Photo of a nature conservatory.
Sunlight streams into The Garfield Park Conservatory. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

The West Side park was once named "Central Park" but it was changed after the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881.

  • The park's conservatory is one of the city's best attractions, as well as one of the largest conservatories in the nation.
8. Washington Park
Photo of the front entrance to a museum.
An exterior view of the DuSable Museum of African American History, which was renamed in 2022. Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for TIME

Washington Park is the anchor of the Woodlawn neighborhood and features not just one gymnasium, but two!

  • The 345-acre park is also home to the famed DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

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