If you've got a dog in the city or just want to go watch some local dogs frolic in the sand check out the new Montrose Dog Beach. The beach is large, clean and the first official dog beach in the city. Usually they have extra bags available if you find yourself short. The only drawback is that the fence doesn't extend all the way into the water or all the way up to the retaining wall. The gap is larger toward the water - so you need to keep an extra eye out for your dog around the fence. Although the beach is located on "Montrose Beach" the dog-friendly area is actually at Wilson and the Lake.
Chicagoans take advantage of the Forest Preserves in and around the city. Autumn is an especially nice time to tromp through the woods. If you have some time to explore the outer "hoods" it would be well worth your time to visit these beautiful oasis!
During a 1920s gangster bus tour of Chicago two years ago, I caught a quick glimpse of a statue of the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" standing on a pedestal in a park. His shiny armour looked so completely out of place against the greenery and it seemed so random at the time, I muttered, "What the...?," and dashed quickly to the window to take a photo. But it was already too late--our bus had turned a corner and I missed the shot.
Well, that image of the Tin Man (also known as Nick Chopper, The Tin Woodman, Emperor of the Winkies) standing frozen in a park, stayed in my mind, brewing over the next two years. I vowed that if I ever went back to Chicago I'd find out exactly what it was all about. ...And maybe bring an oil-can with me in case the poor guy was rusted stiff.
I've always had a bit of a soft-spot in my heart for "The Wizard of Oz"--the movie as well as the original books by L. Frank Baum. As a child, the film's vivid Technicolor story of a young girl travelling alone to a far away land to befriend wondrous creatures and go on epic adventures likely spawned my initial desire to travel and see the world. As an adult, I can still appreciate the stories as they're even more demented than my own imagination (trust me, mine's far out there) without being too preachy or overtly religious.
Before this second visit to Chicago, I'd researched in advance to find out why there'd be a statue of the Tin Man there in the first place. I discovered that Lyman Frank Baum, the writer of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and its 13 sequels, wrote and published the very first of the books in this city in 1900. In 1974, the Chicago Park District honoured its famous former-resident by dedicating "Oz Park" in the name of his fictional fairyland. It has occasionally added statues to the park over the years. ...Wait! There are more statues besides the Tin Man?!
My favourite Chicagoans, Kristi and her husband David, have agreed to take me to Oz Park today and although I can't help but notice their occasional glances like I might be the one with a head full of straw to be so excited about this, I think curiosity might have the best of them as well. They've never been to Oz Park either.
It's a beautiful, sunny Saturday and we find Nick Chopper right away, standing on the corner just as I'd seen him two years earlier. The park is larger than I imagined; adding to its charm are kids frolicking happily on playground equipment and oiled women in bikinis sunbathing here and there on the grassy lawns. ...Can't say I really expected that last perk of the visit.
Over course of the next twenty minutes we find statues of the Scarecrow, Dorothy with Toto, and finally the Cowardly Lion. They really should interconnect the statues with a path of yellow brick--that would be fun! The paint used for Dorothy's bright, red slippers is very impressive, but the Scarecrow could use with a good scrubbing and some polish because he looks like a scary hobo. The Wizard, Glinda, and the Wicked Witch of the West (only recently given the proper name "Elphaba Thropp") are glaringly absent, but hopefully they'll be added to the collection eventually. My favourite of Baum's Oz characters, Jack Pumpkinhead, is likely centuries off from being here but if they ever dedicate one to him, I'd rush to Chicago just to watch the ceremony and laugh my head off.
Overall, it's a nice park... Made even nicer with the Oz crew!
See my "Oz Park" video.
Chicago's got many dog parks throughout the city, but in my opinion Lawrence Dog Park is the best. It's also the largest in the city. The fence is double gated and the park is fully enclosed so you can let your dog off leash worry free. The majority of the dog owners here are friendly and conscientious. A group of owners works together to keep the park clean and the grounds well tended. They also organize many fund-raising events throughout the year to bring the community together and keep the park beautiful. There’s plenty of space for pooches to run and play and lots of benches for the owners to rest on. It’s well lit at night and when the weather gets warm they run some sprinklers for the dogs to play in and keep cool.
The park is located right off Lakeshore Drive at Lawrence and Marine in Margate Park.
Lake Michigan is Chicago's natural wonder and its pride and joy. The vast shoreline provides a nice beachfront area for enjoying the brief spring and summer season. There is an 11 mile or so trail adjacent to the lake which is perfect for jogging, biking or rollerblading.
On a warm spring day in late May, it seemed as if the entire metropolitan population was enjoying the weather and the path. The sandy pseudo beach was practically empty except for pockets of sunbathers. From this vantage point, it appears as though the lakefront stretches on forever and it gives the appearance of a coastline.
Just north of the frenzy of Navy Pier is a little gem called Olive Park, named for Milton L. Olive III. Olive was a soldier from Chicago who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1996. I have read other reviews saying that this park is not well maintained, but I disagree. I think it's lovely and serene, perfect for strolling, relaxing under the trees, or taking great photos of the skyline.
I only visited the beach on one day. It was CROWDED! There was also a volleyball competition that day. It was such a pleasure to see so many happy people! I took the pictures to show how many people.
Click here to return to my VT CHICAGO HOMEPAGE.
Chicago's public park system is another one of the city's treasures. There are over 500 parks in the Chicago parks district and many of these are located within the city and its subrubs. The downtown parks are perfectly situated to provide for fantastic photo opportunities of the landscaped grounds and the city's buildings in the background. Chicago's parks are well maintained and have great jogging trails and facilities.
Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's largest parks and the place where you'll find the free zoo. Walking through the grounds of this park is a real treat. You'll come upon sculptures, ponds and beautiful views of the city.
I took an early morning walk through Lincoln Park while the entire city was participating in Bike the Drive along Lakeshore Drive, or, at least, it seemed that way. It was such a peaceful contrast to the congestion along Michigan Avenue and the crowds at the museums. And the early morning sunshine, which later became covered with clouds as Chicago is wont to do, created perfect photo opportunities, such as this one.
For more information on these and other parks, visit chicagoparkdistrict.com
I'm not sure what the exact name is, and it is probably not that, but there is a small lake in the center of Lincoln Park, near the zoo. The parks rents out paddleboats and these contraptions which look like giant swans from afar. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Constructed for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, some of the originally planted trees remain on this wonderful park just south of Chicago. A very nice "quick" escape from the hustle of downtown Chicago. Great to walk around the paths as well as to check out the Japanese Garden. I am sure it is beautiful in the Spring (for Tina!)
It is just a quick 5 minute walk south of the Museum of Science and Industry, go there as well! To get to both from Downtown, take the Electric Line Metra (Commuter Train) From the underground station at Michigan Ave and Randoph. Get off on the 55th Ave Station and walk east (toward the lake - to your left leaving the doors Tina ;)
ps. don't take the green line L there, kinda sketchy "per bukuroshja pelqej ty" or "per goce: e bukur si ty"
The southern shore of Lake Michigan is known for it's high dunes. Stretching from south Chicago, around through Indiana to the Michigan (state of Michigan) border, these dunes are some of the easiest to access. Sandy beaches spread out along the dunes offering wonderful places to spend a leisurely day. Visit my VT page for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Check out my other Chicago tips for Off the Beaten Path for more to do in the Indiana suburbs of Chicago.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, offers more than just sand and water:
- Bailly Homestead from 1834
-Chellberg Farm from 1880's
-Indiana Dunes Visitor Center (Porter, Indiana)
-Trails, [Succession Trail, Cowles Bog Trail, Inland Marsh Trail, Little Calumet River Trail, Miller Woods Trail, Ly-co-Ki-we Horse and Hiking Trail, Dune Ridge Trail]
-Dunes [West Beach, Mt Baldy]
and much, much more.
Nestled in the middle of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the Indiana Dunes State Park. With wide, sandy beach and miles of rolling dunes, you'll find a compact area of sand, water, wind, trails, and wetlands. They have over 20 miles (32 k) of trails, wandering through the nature preserve and several miles of beach front. The bathhouse and campground offer amenities for those less advernturous, while the 10 mile Beach front trail, traverses the entire park.
Great America is the areas largest amusement park. You'll find a variety of roller coasters, go karts, thrill rides, musicals, shows, food, games and fun. Located north of Chicago, it offers a full day of family fun.
Walking along the Lake Michigan between Shedd Aquarium and Navy Pier you can find artificial sand beaches. Since we were there in October, it was too cold for swimming, but it was great having a walk in the sand next to the great skyline of Chicago... If go go there earlier in the year it sure is great spend an afternoon on the beach swimming.
Just north of Armitage off of Lincoln Avenue lies Oz Park, a tribute to L. Frank Baum's timeless characters. It's a pretty green place peppered with statues of Wizard of Oz characters. It's a fun place to go on nice days. Also includes Emerald Gardens, and for the kids, Dorothy's Playlot.
There's also a Dairy Queen adjacent on Lincoln. Nothing like an ice cream cone after a trip to the park!