Finding Green in the City: Chicago’s Top Nature Spots

Sometimes it can be hard to find a bit of greenery in the concrete jungle, but Chicago’s downtown area is full of huge street-side flower beds and the far-flung neighborhoods all have giant flowers pots dotting their main streets. If you’re looking for a beautiful garden to walk through or a sport for a picnic, the city has plenty of options. Best of all, they’re free! Take an Uber and check out some of our favorite nature spots in Chicago:

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is home to many of the city’s favorite tourist attractions, but many people don’t actually take the time to stroll through the Lurie Garden. The 5-acre garden is home to over 220 species of plants. It was carefully designed to capture the city of Chicago itself. A prominent hedge surrounds the garden, representing the strength and structure of the City of Broad Shoulders. Summer and spring bring brilliant shades of purple and pink flowers to the grasses and other perennials of the garden.

Graceland Cemetery

Yes, Graceland is a cemetery. But this 119-acre plot is a lovely place to walk though and will make you forget that you’re in a major metropolitan area. Graceland Cemetery is a certified arboretum with over 50 kinds of trees. Many of Chicago’s important historical figures are buried here, marked with memorials and sculptures. Pick up a map at the cemetery’s office to be directed towards pieces by sculptor Lorado Taft and famous Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

If you plan on visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, make sure you stop at the conservatory next door. This huge, glass building was built in the 1890s and houses plant life that you otherwise wouldn’t find growing in the Midwest climate. There are entire rooms devoted to exotic palms, desert plants, and delicate orchids. Several flower shows are hosted at the conservatory a few times each year. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a great option for a cold or rainy day, especially since it’s always nice and warm inside.

Metropolitan Farms

And now for something completely different. If you have a green thumb and an interest in farming, you might love a visit to this urban greenhouse. Located on the city’s West Side,Metro Farms grows their many types of leafy greens using aquaponics. This method of agriculture combines fish farming with plants grown completely in water. The waste from the fishes supplies all the nutrients the plants need to grow. The greenhouse founders offer tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays for you to check out their unique system.

Jackson Park

Many visitors have a misconception about Chicago’s South Side. What they don’t know is that they’re missing a beautiful oasis in Jackson Park. Set on the site of the city’s famous World’s Fair of 1893, the garden still holds a few relics from the famous exposition. The Garden of the Phoenix (formerly Osaka Garden) is located on an island in the park and dates back to the World’s Fair. It’s designed in a beautiful Japanese style, complete with lagoons, waterfalls, and cherry trees.

Photo credit: Candace Fladagar