Regardless of how many new types of entertainment come around, there’s still nothing like an old-fashioned picnic with the family or a loved one. What could be better than a slow-paced afternoon with all of your favorite food and beverages? It’s completely up to you how much or little to bring along. You can make it a minimalistic picnic with only some sandwiches and snacks. Or you can make it a mini-vacation, with music, pets, beach towels and accessories such as a frisbee, football, whiffle ball, or whatever suits you. If you’re in the Chicago area, you don’t have to travel far to find the perfect spot. Whether you’re right in the city or in the suburbs, there are many comfortable places to settle in for an afternoon of food, fun, socializing, and play. Here are the top 10 places for a picnic in Chicago and surrounding areas.
- Grant Park – Located right in the middle of Chicago’s business district, Grant Park is right in the Loop where you’ll also find attractions such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the stunning Buckingham Fountain. This is a good choice if you want to do some shopping or visit some of the city’s museums before or after your picnic. This is another good spot to get a nice view of the skyline while enjoying your picnic.
- Promontory Point – If you want a nice view of Lake Michigan, Promontory Point is one of your best choices. This spot, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, is one of the most scenic places in Burnham Park. In addition to the water, you’ll also have nice views of Chicago’s skyline. There are fire pits for a barbecue as well as hiking and biking trails. This is one picnic spot where you can even go swimming in the warm weather.
- Humboldt Park – This is one of Chicago’s largest and most beautiful parks. With more than 200 acres of trails, playing fields, picnic areas, and beach areas, you can easily spend a whole day here. In addition to consuming the edibles you bring along, you can grab some additional refreshments at the cafe. This park dates back to 1869 and there are some nice historic buildings, such as the old field house. There are also a variety of festivals and other special events held here, such as the Puerto Rican Festival.
- Ping Tom Memorial Park – One of Chicago’s newer parks, this one is at the edge of Chinatown. One of the fun features of this park is that it’s a stop on the Chicago Water Taxi route. After your picnic, you can always take a boat ride to downtown and get an amazing view of the city from the water. If you prefer to have a whole boat to yourself, you can also rent a kayak. The park hosts many special events during the warm months, such as boat races, outdoor movies, and concerts. One of the most notable annual events is the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy.
- Harvester Park – This is the place to come if you’re near the Burr Ridge area. In addition to many great spots for a picnic, there are many activities such as playgrounds, playing fields, tennis and volleyball courts, and a pond where you can go fishing. This is a fun park for kids, with activities such as mini zip lines, tire swings, a tree house, and a water park. Beyond the activity areas, Harvester Park is surrounded by wetlands and prairie, giving it a spacious feeling. There are many attractively designed pathways and bridges around the park, adding to the atmosphere.
- Palmer Square Park – This park is in the Logan Square neighborhood and is another of Chicago’s historic parks dating back to the 19th century. This is a park that’s right beside a historic residential neighborhood. If you have your picnic here, you’ll see plenty of locals jogging, biking, and walking their dogs. More recently, it’s been a favorite spot for Pokemon Go players. One of the highlights of the park is a playground inspired by the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. The park has paths connected it to other scenic spots, such as Humboldt Park and Logan Square, in case you’re in the mood for a bit of a hike before or after your picnic. It’s also a favorite among dog owners and there are many places where friendly dogs can find playmates.
- Independence Grove – This preserve in Libertyville is the place to come if you want to get out of the city and enjoy a pristine natural environment. The preserve is situated on a lake of more than 100 acres. You can come here for a relaxing picnic or get in some exercise. There are six miles of trails for walking or biking. You can also enjoy the water by taking a swim or renting a kayak or paddleboat. In the summer, there are outdoor concerts at Millenia Plaza, a scenic spot overlooking the lake. There are also dog parks, playgrounds for the kids, volleyball courts, and plenty of public restrooms. Independence Grove is a beautiful spot for a picnic in the suburbs.
- Dan Ryan Woods – This is a beautiful forest preserve right within the city. This park has 257 acres of places to walk, play, and relax. There are quite a few trails within the park that run parallel to city streets. The preserve is notable for its stone aqueducts that are still used for drainage. Dan Ryan Woods is home to many migratory birds and a wide variety of plants and flowers. The preserve has educational programs and conservation efforts to maintain this area of wilderness in the city. The child-friendly sledding hill makes it a fun place to bring the kids in winter, though it might be too cold for a picnic then. Dan Ryan Woods has many picnic areas and larger groups can rent out whole sections of the park.
- Foster Park Beach – If your idea of the ideal picnic includes the beach, Foster Park Beach right in Lincoln Park is convenient. You’ll find the kind of amenities you want at a beach, such as beach chairs and umbrellas, restrooms, and showers. There’s plenty of room to spread out, grill some burgers, and play frisbee or throw a ball around. In the warm weather, there’s swimming with lifeguards on duty. You can rent a bike and explore some of the nearby attractions. If you bring your dog, you can settle in at the dog beach.
- Indian Boundary Park – On the North Side of Chicago in the West Ridge neighborhood, Indian Boundary Park is a relaxing refuge from the city. The park’s distinctive field house is inspired by Tudor as well as Native American traditions. There’s a bucolic duck pond where you can watch ducks as well as fish and turtles. There are several nice picnic areas as well as tennis courts and a creative playground with climbing areas that resemble a castle. Indian Boundary is not only a park but also a cultural center that offers a variety of classes for children and adults.
Whether you’re going on a picnic or doing anything else in Chicago, it’s always nice to know that you’ll be able to find a parking space. This isn’t something you can always count on. Now, with the ParqEx app, you can always reserve a parking space.
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