In times of uncertainty, sometimes you need a peaceful place to escape amid the chaos. Nothing is more soothing than spending time outdoors observing and being one with nature. This guide features secret parks, gardens, and natural habitats that are easily accessible to every resident in Chicago. No matter where you reside in the city, there is a peaceful outdoor haven that is available to you.
Access to these parks may vary depending on seasonality or federal mandates. Be sure to check the park website for any updates or closures before you venture out to any one of these great parks in Chicago.
1. Garden of the Phoenix at Jackson Park
6401 S. Stony Island Ave. | Jackson Park
Located just south of the Museum of Science and Industry lies the beautiful Garden of Phoenix. Also known as the Osaka Garden, this secret garden in Chicago was initiated over 120 years ago during the World’s Columbian Exposition. In addition to its rich history, the beautiful South Side garden features work from Yoko One and blossoming cherry trees that bloom in late April to early May in and around Jackson Park.
2. South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave. | The Loop
The South Garden can easily be missed if you are in a hurry to visit the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Next time you visit, take the time to slow down and stroll the intimately scaled garden. This secret garden features a magnificent fountain, a sculpture, and a magnificent array of planters, shrubs, and most importantly shade.
3. Northerly Island
1521 S. Linn White Dr. | South Loop
While Northerly Island may be known for its outdoor music and concert venue space, it is also home to a 119-acre Natural Area and park. Northerly Island Park is an urban nature sanctuary situated along the Lake Michigan shoreline on Chicago’s beautiful Museum Campus. Northerly Island Park features prairie grasslands, a strolling path, a Nature Center, and a great view for observing birds and other native wildlife, allowing for year-round outdoor natural observation in Chicago.
4. Promontory Park
5491 S Shore Dr. | Hyde Park
Find yourself in the middle of Chicago’s incredible Lakefront at Promontory Point. Promontory Point is home to a popular skate park. popular beaches, and beautiful natural areas. Take in the bright city lights as you look north towards Chicago or the sleepy suburbs as you look south towards Indian from any point along within this secret lakeshore destination.
5. Ping Tom Park
300 w 18th St. | Chinatown
Find peace and serenity strolling through a South Side park in Chinatown. Ping Tom Park a hidden gem(hint, it’s in a neighborhood) is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago and features impressive river views, a boathouse, and a pagoda-style pavilion. The park is not only a great escape from the noise of the city and also very picturesque.
6. Cancer Survivors Garden at Maggie Dailey Park
337 E Randolph St. | The Loop
The Cancer Survivor’s Garden is a secret garden and hidden gem that is located in the middle of the Chicago Loop. Just East of Maggie Daley Park, the large open metal pavilion is lined with flowers during the spring and summer. The garden was designed to be a celebration of life and give hope in a memorable garden setting. For high-rise apartment dwellers, this garden is a convenient and beautiful escape from your tall glass castles.
7. Park No.571
2754 S Eleanor St. | Bridgeport
This secret park is tucked away in the Bridgeport community of Chicago. Park No. 571 features a unique ecological system and infrastructure that can only be found at the South Side park. It is also home to a beautifully crafted boathouse designed by the architecture firm Studio Gang.
8. Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens
1801 S. Indiana Ave. | South Loop
The Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens is a cozy hideaway in the middle of the South Loop neighborhood. Located within the Prairie Avenue Historic District and nestled between two house museums— the Widow Clarke House and the Glessner House, the secret garden is complete with an ornamental fountain, the “Helping Hands” sculpture, and honors the contributes that women have made to the city throughout its history and provides a quiet respite for the community.
9. North Park Village Nature Center
5801 N Pulaski Rd. | North Park
You’ll find recluse in the winding woodlands of this secret park in Chicago. The North Park Village Nature located in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago features a nature preserve situated on 155-acres of the natural landscape. The nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie, and savanna. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city.
10. South Shore Nature Sanctuary at South Shore Cultural Center
7059 S South Shore Dr. | South Shore
Tucked behind the South Shore Cultural Center in the South Shore Natural Area. The secret garden features are 6 acres of the dune, wetland, woodland, prairie, savanna, and shrub land habitats within South Shore Park. The natural area provides great views of the beach and the city that you will not find anywhere else in the city.
11. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
2000 N Racine Dr. | Lincoln Park
Step through the Prairie-style Fullerton gate and enter a hidden garden of unmatched beauty. The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park is a vision of architecture and beauty in the North Side neighborhood. The secret garden features a lily pool, pavilion, council ring, and diverse native plantings. Be sure to add this refreshing and cool escape to your list.
12. Steelworkers Park
287th at S. Lake Shore Dr. | South Chicago
What was once a US steel complex during the height of the industrial revolution is now an attractive hidden gem in Chicago. Steelsworkers Park is a transformed steel complex with natural areas, The property is edged by remnant elements of the steel industry, most notably a series of enormous concrete ore walls. This park features a community rock climbing wall built on the historic ore wall of the Steelworks industry and has quickly become an escape for families to enjoy nature in the city.
13. Pamisano C. Park
2700 S. Halsted St. | Bridgeport
What was once an ancient coral reef and landfill, is now a dynamic, yet hidden park in Chicago. Palmisano Park, formerly known as Stearns Quarry, is in the heart of the Bridgeport community. the transformative park features a fishing pond, preserved quarry walls, and over 1.7 miles of trails. Take a stroll around this scenic and revived park in Chicago.
14. Oz Park
2021 N. Burling St. | Lincoln Park
Find your own wonderful world of Oz at this secret park in Chicago. Oz Park is a park inspired by “The Wizard of Oz,” and is complete with statues of characters from the famous musical and movie. Take a stroll through the park to discover an urban renewal named in honor of the author of Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919), the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
15. Pullman park
11101 S. Cottage Grove Ave. | Pullman Park
Find seclusion in the neighborhood hideaway of Pullman Park. Located in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. The beautifully preserved park features an open green space complete with a natural landscape in a historical neighborhood. Escape to this park and neighborhood as you marvel at the uninterrupted architecture, in a dynamic landscape. Learn more about the rich history of this park and the surrounding neighborhood here.
Done hanging out with Mother Nature? Snapback to the realities of the hustle and bustle of the city life—when you’re ready of course—by checking out some of these other cool places to hang out in Chicago.