Chicago is one of the best cities to live in or visit if you like to get a taste of nature every once in awhile. From gardens to nature preserves, there’s a wealth of natural wonders to view in and around the city. These 10 must-see attractions let you get in touch with nature, without actually leaving the city.
1. Lurie Garden
Located on E Monroe Street, this garden is a model of green-space sustainability in an urban setting. Part green roof, part art piece, it reflects the city's history, culture, and people. It is built over a railroad and parking garages!
2. Des Plaines River
Spanning Lake and Cook counties, this system of trails connecting communities and neighborhoods lies on the outer edge of the west side of the city. You can go horseback riding, hiking, biking, and more. It lies along the floodplain, so parts of the trail can be inaccessible at times.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory
Since 1908, this stunning collection of plants has preserved Chicago's native ecosystem. It is located at 300 N Central Park Avenue and is open daily. Admission is free and there's free parking, though it is also easily accessible from public transportation. There are several rooms with different types of plants such as ferns, desert succulents, aroids, and more.
4. Montrose Point
Over 300 species of birds inhabit this incredible sanctuary. You'd never expect to find something like this in the city, but at 4400 N Simonds Drive, you can go birdwatching all day long. Some of the best viewing points are "The Magic Hedge" and along Lake Michigan, where many birds burrow in the sand.
5. Chicago Botanic Garden
Just north of the city, located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, this garden is a must-visit for Chicagoans. Though parking is pricey - about $25 per car - admission is free and you can stay all day. It may take that long to gawk at the plethora of flowers, trees, and other plants sprinkled throughout 385 acres of walking grounds, which are split into 27 different gardens and 81 acres of pond.
6. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Once part of a Victorian garden, this magical place is located at 100 W Fullerton Parkway. It is open from dawn to dusk and has been named both a National Historic Landmark and a Chicago Historical Landmark. It's one of the most tranquil spots in the city and even contains a hidden garden with a wonderful waterfall!
7. The Morton Arboretum
Located at 4100 IL-53 in the West Chicago suburb of Lisle, this lovely place is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Billed as a tree museum, there are hundreds of different species spanning the 1,700 acres. There is also an award-winning children's garden and maze garden.
8. Lincoln Park Conservatory
Representing plants from all corners of the world, this beautiful natural attraction is located at 2391 N Stockton Drive. It is housed in a greenhouse made of glass and iron which was constructed in the late 1800s. It contains four different sections featuring ferns, palms, orchids, and seasonal and holiday displays.
9. Chicago River
Partly responsible for the popularity of Chicago, our river is one-of-a-kind. It is the only river that runs backward, and one of the only ones dyed green for St. Paddy's Day. There are numerous branches and canals stretching 156 miles riverfront to explore!
10. Lake Michigan
The heart of Chicago lies along this famous body of water! It gives us beautiful beaches, as well as opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and more. Lake Michigan establishes us as a port city and it also offers endless waves and ocean-like views that make for wonderful photos!
What other natural attractions around Chicago do you enjoy? Share your thoughts with us!