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5 Local parks in Chicago, Illinois

It used to be that parks conjured up memories of a swing set or two, and maybe a picnic table. Not anymore! These 5 parks offer so many activities and programs – indoors and outside – that you’ll want to visit them over and over again throughout the year.

Family at Park

Chase Park

Busy parents know the drill – one child plays sports, another performs in plays, you’re driving all over town, all of the time. Chase Park offers tons of enrichment and activities in the same place. Baseball, basketball, soccer, an outdoor pool, summer cultural camps, an outdoor track, indoor fitness center, music and dance lessons – you name it. Chase Park is also home to the award-winning Chase Park Theater who’s mission is presenting classic theater for the diverse Uptown community, including mainstage and youth productions throughout the year. A million-dollar renovation to the kids’ playlot will open in June, 2010.
Address: 4701 N. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Grant Park

Free concerts? Check. Festivals? Check. A large, beautiful green space in the middle of Chicago? Yep. Grant Park is fondly known as “Chicago’s front yard.” It’s also home to the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, and world-class museums. A great place to relax, play and enjoy gorgeous Lake Michigan views throughout the year, Grant Park holds concerts, festivals, movies and more. Golf during warmer months at the 18 hold green, or ice skate outdoors at Daley Bicentennial Plaza in the winter. Grant Park is a wonderful place for families year-round.
Address: 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

North Park Village Nature Center

When thinking about the city of Chicago, nature is probably not the first word that comes to mind. That may change, though, after visiting North Park Village Nature Center, a 46 acre nature preserve and educational facility is located on the northwest side. Outdoors, you can check out the nature preserve and trails that wind through woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savannas. Indoors, enjoy the discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects and interactive displays. A variety of outreach programs are offered for all ages and kids can enroll for eco-explorers camp in the summer.
Address: 5801 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60646; Hours: Daily 10am-4pm; Admission: Free.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory, located on the west side of Chicago is a fantastic place for families to learn about and engage with nature year-round. Special programs and activities scheduled throughout the year include family “make and take” project days, origami open house,  the Eye Spy Conservatory Hunt, flower shows like TulipMania – and this is just a sampling of what you can do! Explore the Conservatory’s special plant display houses, including Sugar from the Sun, where nearly 2,000 types of plants are grown, all that create sugar in their leaves. When Garfield Park Conservatory says “Something’s always growing” they mean it.
Address: 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago IL 60624; Hours: 9am – 5pm daily, with late hours on Wednesday until 8pm; Admission: Free.

Movies in the Parks

Let’s face it, going to the movies typically involves much more than the film – after buying tickets, popcorn and drinks for the family, one could probably shoot her own movie! All kidding aside, Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Parks each summer is a fun – and free – way to enjoy classic and modern films under the stars. This year, more than 170 movies will be shown in neighborhood parks throughout the city, from June through September. So, bring a blanket or lawn chairs and pack a picnic. As Chicago Park District Movies in the Parks says, “You bring the snacks, we’ll bring the stars.”
All movies are free and begin at dusk.
Address: Varies, depends on the park. Visit for more information. Admission: Free

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