Chicago is full of fun outdoor adventures. Enjoy some of these in the winter too – just be sure to pack your boots and mittens to keep warm. Check out some of these other great outdoors options for a full, Chicagoan experience.
Pullman Historic District
Get your history on at this historic district. Located just west of Lake Calumet, Pullman has been protected and preserved since 1972. Originally built to house thousands of employees in the Pullman railroad car company, the town was once the only industrial city in the country. After an economic slump in the 1890s, Chicago annexed it. Visit the area to see the well-preserved Victorian architecture of this impressive once-thriving place and to learn more about George Pullman’s vision for this mini-city.
Chicago’s Navy Pier is considered the top leisure destination in the Midwest. The Pier sits on Lake Michigan and was originally opened in 1916. Ride the new Centennial Wheel for an aerial view of the area, tour the Crystal Gardens, enjoy the rides in Pier Park, visit the shops and experience the current events. From lake cruises to cultural festivals, there is always something exciting happening at the Pier, and there is something for every age here, making it great for families.
Oak Street Beach
Although Chicago does not border an ocean, it has some great lakeside beaches. With its white sand, seasonal palm trees and paved walkways, Oak Street Beach is a paradise that looks like it belongs in Southern California. You can rent volleyball equipment, bicycles and other equipment for a fun day at the beach. There is also a beach cafe, a playground and an unparalleled view of the Chicago skyline.
The Riverwalk is an open walkway in the downtown area that borders the Chicago River. It is still being expanded but is a great place to walk, jog, bike or just relax. There are boat rentals if you want to see the view of the area from the water, and plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating where you can enjoy a meal and a view. Riverwalk provides a more slow-paced oasis where you can unwind in contrast to the rushed pace of downtown Chicago. We recommend visiting at night when the peaceful view of the city lights glistening on the water is absolutely magical.
If you enjoy historical places, you’ll like this small, triangle-shaped park near Highway 64. In the years leading up to 1890, the park was just a lake. Field Houses were eventually added, and it became an integral part of the Polish-American community. Visit the park to jog, bike, walk, play basketball or use the seasonal water playground. Look up some old photos of the park online before you go to fully appreciate its significance and historical changes.