Things to Do in Chicago That Will Get You Outside
Located right on Lake Michigan, Chicago has many outdoor activities that visitors can enjoy. There are lakefront beaches as well as beautiful parks and gardens. Below are just some of the things you can do outdoors in Chicago.
Millennium Park is a famous public space that's located in Grant Park. The 24.5 acre park is near the Lake Michigan shoreline and includes a number of famous attractions such as Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden and a number of outdoor performance areas.
Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
Grant Park is a large and impressive public space in the city's central business district. This large park is where you'll find the famous Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus. There are a number of gardens, sport fields, and performances venues found in the park as well.
Printer's Row, Chicago, Illinois
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Located in Chicago's Chinatown, this park has a pagoda-style pavilion, bamboo gardens, and a playground. The waterfront park spans 17 acres and there are places nearby where you can rent kayaks. The Field House is a recreational area in the park that has a pool with slides and a fitness center. From here you can enjoy great views of the Chicago skyline. Throughout the year there are a number of events held here including Shakespeare in the Park. Runners and walkers will appreciate the trails through the park as well.
300 West 19th Street, Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois, 60616
Crown Fountain is a video sculpture and work of art that's located in Chicago's Millennium Park. It opened in 2004 and has a black granite reflecting pool between two glass brick towers that display digital videos. The water is turned on between the months of May and October.
Crown Fountain, Loop, Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago River is an iconic part of the city, and it runs parallel to the lakeshore through the heart of the city. The Riverwalk is along a popular stretch of the river, and it's lined with many great restaurants and some of Chicago's most impressive architecture. You can wander along the Riverwalk, rest at one of the many benches, take in the impressive views or simply people watch.
Loop, Chicago, IL, 60601
Lincoln Park Conservatory
This impressive Victorian style greenhouse has four separate sections that include the Orchid House, Palm House, Fern Room, and Show House. There's also an outdoor Formal Garden and the English Grandmother's Garden. This is a beautiful conservatory and it's free to the public.
2391 N Stockton Dr, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the United States, and is home to the Chicago Cubs. Catch a game here during the summer, or come any time of the year to the surrounding neighborhood to take in some Cubs memorabilia at the nearby shops, bars, and restaurants which are popular with fans.
1060 W Addison Street, Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois
Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is an impressive park with a 1/4 mile long ice skating/roller skating ribbon. There's also a 40 ft tall climbing wall and a play garden for kids. The playground includes a pirate ship play structure with slides, rope bridges, and climbing areas. There's also a 18 hole mini golf course in the park.
337 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
Ohio Street Beach
Walking distance from Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach is small and shallow. If you're looking for a comfortable place to relax by the water, then this beach is convenient. There's a cafe with snacks, beer, and cocktails. This is also a popular training spot for triathletes.
600 North Lake Shore Drive, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
This 13 acre park is located in the Near West Side area. The park has large fields, playgrounds, a swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and baseball fields. The playgrounds have slides, swings, and plenty of space for kids to run around.
1566 West Washington Boulevard, Near West Side, Chicago, Illinois, 60612
In the center of Daley Plaza, visitors will find the famous Picasso sculpture. This public square hosts a variety of events including live music, food trucks, festivals, markets, and more. In fact, almost every day of the year at noon some sort of performance art event takes place here in the plaza.
50 W. Washington Street, Loop, Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is a 18.5-mile long trail that is great for running, walking, biking, and even skateboarding. It runs alone the western shore of Lake Michigan and it's popular with locals, tourists, athletes, and commuters. From the trail you can access the lake at different points and the trail passes by a number of different recreational areas including Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, and Jackson Park.
Garfield Park is a popular city park on the West Side of the city in the Garfield Park neighborhood. It has a number of recreational facilities including baseball, boxing, basketball, tennis, and swimming. There's also a playground and trails for running, walking and bike riding. When the weather isn't cooperating, you can head inside to the Garfield Park Conservatory, which has about 120,000 plants from 600 different species in a 1.6 acre indoor space.
300 N. Central Park Ave., Garfield Park, Chicago, IL, 60624
Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is one of the most famous shopping neighborhoods in the world. It's lined with brand name retail shops, boutique designers, historic hotels, luxury brands, large shopping centers, one-of-a-kind stores, and unique attractions. This neighborhood also has the original American Girl Place, Water Tower Place, and The Drake Hotel where you can enjoy high tea at the historic Palm Court.
This renovation project has turned an elevated railway track into a 2.7 mile path that weaves through the North Side of the city, passing through Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown. It connects a handful of parks and is the perfect place to enjoy a walk, bike ride, or short run.
Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL
Dating back to the mid 1800s, this park was at one time considered to be one of the greatest public parks in the country. Today it has rose gardens, tennis courts, an inland beach, and bike paths.
Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL
This is a 600 acre park that sits on the edge of Lake Michigan on the South Side of Chicago. It has a variety of facilities including basketball, tennis courts, and playgrounds. The Osaka Garden is also on the grounds, which is a Japanese style garden that's on an island in the park's east lagoon. There are also several beaches and a running track that visitors can take advantage of.
6401 S Stony Island Ave, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60637
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach
Belmont Harbor Beach is a popular spot for running, walking, or biking. It's near Chicago's Yacht Club and, with a great fenced in area near the water, this is a popular spot for dog owners. When the weathers nice, head here for a day of relaxing, exercising, of simply enjoying the great outdoors with your dog companion.
Belmont & Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
South Shore Cultural Center Park
This park was originally built as a country club but today it is a historic landmark that offers a number of classes and programs throughout the year. The park covers 65 acres and includes a golf course, grass fields, a beach, and the South Shore Nature Sanctuary.
7059 S South Shore Dr, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60649
Walden Pond & Thoreau's Cabin
Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author, wrote some of his most famous works at this cabin which is now a museum and park. Visitors can walk around the famous Walden Pond which has a small beach area and walking trails. It's a nice spot for a swim in the summer. The area is now a state park and open to the public.
915 Walden St, Concord, Massachusetts
This 22 acre park offers a number of sports and activities as well as a playground and an impressive Fourth of July fireworks display.
5100 N Leavitt St, Lincoln Square, Chicago, IL, 60625
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is a popular summer destination when it fills with locals playing volleyball and families playing in the sand. Swimming is popular when the water gets warm and there is plenty of water sports equipment available for rent including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis. Bands frequently play at the beach house and there's also ice cream and margaritas available.
1601 N. Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60611
Burnham Park follows the banks of Lake Michigan for six miles from 14th Street to 56th Street. It spans 600 acres and includes the Burnham Harbor, Soldier Field, and McCormick Place. The Lakefront Trail passes through the park as well. Skateboarders will appreciate Burnham Skate Park, but there are also tennis courts, a fishing pier, and several beaches. For kids, there is a playground.
South Loop, Chicago, IL
Wrigley Square, in Millennium Park, is where you'll find the Millennium Monument, which is a circular fountain with large columns. Throughout the park are temporary art installations that change regularly. There are also several places to buy snacks and drinks. Head to one of the picnic tables to enjoy your food while you soak in the setting.
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a stage in Millennium Park that hosts regular concerts and events including the Grant Park Orchestra during the summer months (a series of free concerts). The Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and Grant Park Music Festival are all held here as well.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
These beaches stretch out for eight blocks, making them the longest stretch of beach in Chicago. Located near Loyola University in the East Rogers Park neighborhood, this area has a playground and areas that are perfect for strollers. There are also a number of sports fields nearby including baseball fields, basketball courts, and a kayak launching spot.
1222 W Touhy Ave, East Rogers Park, Chicago, IL, 60626
This neighborhood and park area offers a beautiful setting with nicely landscaped gardens, a quaint lily pond, and lakefront green space that has nice views of the city. The Lakefront Trail, the Lincoln Park Trail, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all in the area. There is also plenty of shopping in Lincoln Park with many boutique shops spread among the row houses.
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum houses an impressive permanent collection with more than 2,500 pieces on display on a rotational basis. The works span the 1920s through present day. There are also a number of summer events hosted here including Tuesdays on the Terrace which offers free live jazz performances in the museum gardens. On summer mornings there are weekly farmer's markets.
220 E Chicago Ave, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $498. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $90. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Chicago