Green Oases in the Second City

Looking for things to do in Chicago? Chicago is known for skyscrapers, inspiring SNL skits (“Da Bears!”), and being a world-class city. But despite Chicago’s size, the city also hosts some very unique and often secluded green spaces. Of course there’s no shortage of parks in Chicago. But we’ve scoured this urban jungle and, without much difficulty, have found some especially great oases for visitors and locals to experience natural beauty in the middle of Chicago. Oh, and you can get into each for FREE.

• Our first recommendation is the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park. This park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago, just minutes from our hotel. But the seclusion you’ll find here will make you forget where you are! The garden is intended to reflect the city motto of, “City in a Garden,” hearkening back to Chicago’s foundation on mostly marshland. But the Lurie Garden offers true natural beauty that fits with the history and ecology of the city. You’ll find the garden is a great place to visit anytime – even with an umbrella or mittens on – since it’s made to change and reflect each of the seasons! When you’re downtown, we recommend seeing this extraordinary space in the city.

• Another great green space in Chicago is the Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but don’t let that stop you from visiting! Originally designed to showcase tropical plants, in recent history it has been redesigned and now showcases plant life native to the Midwest. This truly does feel secluded. Once inside, you’ll be stunned by the serenity of the pool and by the beauty of its design: mimicking a river formed by the natural runoff of a melting glacier cutting through limestone. Ahhh, the description is so peaceful, you could almost fall asleep.

• The Garfield Park Conservatory is a truly unique showplace in Chicago. West of downtown, it hosts large stores of wildlife. It has various sections with terrific names like, “The Fern Room” and “The Desert Room.” Even though the conservatory sustained damage from a hail storm in the past year, it’s still open to the public and offers a lot for the visitor who craves some communion with nature. And if you have children, they’re sure to enjoy spotting fish and turtles.

McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary is located on the lakefront and is just slightly south of the loop. Easily accessible to guests at our downtown Chicago hotel, the sanctuary boasts a number of species and is excellent for catching sight of feathered friends as they migrate and pass through the Windy City. For Ornithologists and bird-watchers you’ll spot a number of birds (not to mention plants), “including sora rails, long-eared owls, warblers, hawks, and even an American bittern”. Bring your cameras!

Wondering about other green spaces in Chicago? Leave a comment and we’re sure to help find what you’re looking for! And book a room today for your exploration of Chicago at Best Western Plus River North Hotel.

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