South Of The Loop_SOTL_Chicago_South Side_On Bike_Outdoors

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the great outdoors

  • Located along the edge of the Chicago River in Chinatown with spectacular city skyline views. 

  • In 1998, the Chicago Park District began transforming the railroad yard into a beautiful rolling green space.

  • Ping Tom Memorial Park is named for the Chinatown resident who was the leading force behind the creation of this community park.

  • It has a children's playground, community areas & Chinese landscape design. 

  • The facility offers a gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, meeting rooms, a fitness center, and a second story outdoor patio with great views.

  • The boathouse includes a public dock that is available for use by non-motorized boats during park hours.

  • Rent a kayak during the summer season, or you can bring your own, it’s a good spot to launch into the river.

  • Make sure to check out the Fairy House.

  • Accessible by public transit and the Chicago Water Taxi.

  • Designed by famous landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed N.Y.’s Central Park.

  • Site of the 1893’s World's Columbian Exposition. Two structures remain as symbols of the fair. The "Golden Lady" sculpture is a smaller version of Daniel Chester French's Statue of the Republic which originally stood at the foot of the Court of Honor & the original Fine Arts Palace, which today host Chicago's MSI (Museum of Science and Industry).

  • Today, the 500-plus-acre park offers a golf course, baseball, a fitness center, basketball, a playground, tennis courts and paths for walking, jogging or biking and fishing areas. In addition to 3 harbors, & 63rd beach.

  • Located south of the MSI, don’t miss the wooden island which includes a Japanese garden, Yoko Ono Sky Landing structure and the cherry blossom trees around spring time, which have a peak bloom period of 6 to 10 days.

  • Originally an early 20th century private country club. 

  • Architects  Benjamin H. Marshall, Charles E. Fox were hired to design the impressive building, they are also known for designing the Drake Hotel & many other Chicago buildings. 

  • The inspiration was a photograph of an old private club in Mexico City. 

  •  It was acquired by the Chicago Park District in 1974.  In 1975 was listed as a U.S. National Register of Historic Places. On May 26, 2004, it became a Chicago Landmark.

  • The 65-acre park is equipped with a golf course, picnic areas, a nature and butterfly sanctuary and a beach with a recently renovated beach house.

  • The facility features a solarium and houses the Parrot Cage Restaurant. In addition to formal dining halls available to rent for weddings, receptions, and meetings. The Cultural Center was the site of Barack and Michelle Obama's wedding reception.

  • Fun fact, the exterior was used as the "Palace Hotel Ballroom" in The Blues Brothers movie.

  • Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, between Jackson Park (to the south) and Grant Park (to the north), Burnham Park totals 653.63 acres.  

  • Named after architect Daniel Burnham in 1927. Burnham was one of the designers of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. 

  • The park hosts important Chicago structures like Soldier Field & the McCormick Place.

  • Burnham Park features: Northerly Island, several beaches, harbors, marinas, nature green areas, a popular all concrete skate park south of  31st Street, and the famous Promontory Point.

  • The Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park is a recent addition to the park, located from 31 Street to 26th Street.

  • Take advantage of the Lakefront trail and check this beautiful park.

  • Located in the South Chicago neighborhood, this park was previously part of the US Steel Complex known as South Works.

  • The Chicago Park District acquired the 16.5-acre site in 2002 to develop a new park.

  • This park features a community rock climbing wall built on the historic ore wall of the Steelworks industry. 

  • Now an attractive landscape with natural areas, trees, walking paths and exquisite views of Lake Michigan.

  • Plenty of available free parking.

  • Located in the Washington Park/Woodlawn neighborhood, Washington Park totals over 345 acres and includes: two gymnasiums, a photography lab, dance studio, racquetball court, fitness center, game room, a nature area, a harvest garden and an arboretum.

  • Chicago real estate magnate and Hyde Park founder, Paul Cornell also conceived Washington Park; he hired Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, to lay out the park in the 1870s.

  • From 1897 until the 1930s the park housed an impressive conservatory and ornate sunken garden designed by D. H. Burnham & Co. at 56th Street and Cottage Grove.

  • The Washington Park Conservatory, like those of other city parks such as Humboldt and Douglas Parks, were torn down in the 1930s due to limited resources as a result of the Great Depression. This left Lincoln Park and Garfield Park as Chicago's only Conservatories.

  • The park has changed a lot since its original design, early attractions in the park included riding stables, cricket grounds, a toboggan slide, archery ranges, a golf course, row boats, a rose garden, a bandstand, a small zoo featuring six alligators, a lily pond and a racetrack that operated from 1883 to 1905; it was one of the largest of its time and it closed after Illinois outlawed gambling.

  • In 1910 Burnham’s firm designed a larger administrative headquarters which now houses the DuSable Museum of African American History, other interesting sights in the Park include the Lorado Taft sculpture Fountain of Time, and an architecturally distinctive National Guard armory.

  • Palmisano Park is a 26.60-acre park in the Bridgeport neighborhood,  it’s named after Henry Palmisano, a fishing advocate who owned a neighborhood bait shop.

  • Before this site was transformed into a beautiful park it was a coral reef millions years ago, you can find some fossils at the Field Museum; then it was a quarry and after a landfill.

  • Nowadays you can still appreciate some of the quarry’s steep rock walls that were left exposed, wetlands, nature areas, walking paths, a fishing pond and a 33-foot hill.

  • From the top of the mound you can relax, fly a kite or just enjoy an amazing city view. 

  • At the fishing pond you can catch-and-release bluegill and other species.

  • Located on the eastern shore of Lake Calumet, Big Marsh is a city park with over 290 acres that has bike tracks, natural areas and hiking trails. 

  • Five unique pump tracks to ride from beginner to expert.

  • Great place for bird watching, including species like Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets & Mallards.

  • Other animal inhabitants include Turtles, White-tailed Deer, Beavers, Muskrats and Coyotes.

  • Also located inside the park is the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, a new facility that offers different programs.

  • Pro Tip: You can enter at 103rd Street and Doty Road, which has a good size parking lot or at 122nd Street and Torrence Avenue.

  • If you would like to volunteer, Friends Of Big Marsh are always looking for extra hands to help.

  • Calumet Park totals 181.70 acres and features two gymnasiums, fitness center, Lake Shore Model Train exhibit, gymnastic center, sewing and upholstery studios, woodshop, and multi-purpose rooms.

  • Outside, the park offers a beach, boat launch, soccer turf, picnic groves, playground, softball, football, and soccer fields.

  • Calumet Park developed slowly, and was not completed until the 1930s.

  • It features a dog friendly area.

  • Named after cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, who set world records and broke racial barriers in competition in the late 1800's.

  • Beginning in the Dan Ryan Woods - North at 83rd street, this path winds through forest preserves, parks and neighborhoods on Chicago's far South Side.

  • The Major Taylor Trail goes south to 95th street, at which point it follows on-street bike lanes until resuming an off-street route at 105th street running through West Pullman, Beverly and Morgan Park. 

  • The path ends in The Whistler Woods Forest Preserve, just across the Little Calumet River.

  • For an afternoon of history, wander among quiet lakes and tree-studded grounds to check out the burial sites.

  • This 184-acre cemetery in Greater Grand Crossing has been around since 1854.

  • Serves as the final resting place for dozens of famous Americans, including : journalist Ida B. Wells, former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, olympic athlete Jesse Owens and other familiar names.

  • Controversially the cemetery is also home to the Confederate Mound, a mass grave and memorial paying tribute to confederate POWs from the Civil War era.

  • South Shore Beach is part of the South Shore Cultural Center, which is considered to be the jewel of the neighborhood. 

  • Newly renovated beach house located behind the South Shore Cultural Center.

  • South Shore Natural Area is 6 acres of dune, wetland, woodland, prairie, savanna and shrubland habitats within South Shore Park.

  • The Nature Sanctuary is one of the best kept secrets in the South Side, with peaceful vibes where you can relax & enjoy nature in the city.

  • Public transit available by #6, #71  buses as well as the Metra Electric; you can also ride your bike, it's right off the end of the Lakefront trail.

  • Paid parking is available.

  • Located in Burnham Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, locally known as “The Point” is a man-made peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan, the landscaping  was designed by Alfred Caldwell, and opened to the public in 1937.

  • In 1938, Caldwell created stone sitting rings - called "council rings" - around the lakefront edge, which today are used as fire pits.

  • It is a popular wedding and event location, partly because of its view of the lake and cityscape.

  • A perfect spot for swimmers, sunbathers, kayakers, windsurfers and picnickers.

  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

  • Calumet Beach offers beach goers a chance to escape the heat by enjoying the cool waters of Lake Michigan during the summer months.

  • Amenities: concessions, restrooms, lockers, playground, and lifeguard first aid station.

  • Plenty of parking spots.

  • It is on the border between Illinois and Indiana.

  • The name Calumet comes from the Norman-French word for pipe, "chamulet." Early French explorers who traded with local Native Americans used the term in reference to their "peace pipes.

  • The 63rd Street Beach House is an elegant Classical Revival style pavilion.

  • Completed in 1919, the elegant exposed-aggregate concrete building takes full benefit of Lake Michigan with its open balconies and loggias. 

  • A natural area provides much needed habitat for migrating birds in the spring and fall seasons.

  • Distance swimming is located at 64th Street, parallel to shore between 1st and 3rd buoys.

  • The historic beach house also offers beach goers amenities that include restrooms, interactive water fountains, showers, and meeting rooms. The beach house is available to rent. 

  • Kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized board or paddle sports is allowed at the south end of 63rd Street Beach.

  • One of the latest additions is Reggies on the Beach restaurant.

  • Rainbow Beach  totals 60.98 acres and features a gymnasium, fitness center and multipurpose rooms, handball courts, and one of the oldest community gardens in Chicago.

  • Named for the U.S. Army's 42nd Rainbow Division that fought in World War I.

  • By 1912, the heavily used beach had bathrooms and changing rooms. Illuminated by electric lights.

  • In 1914, the city began efforts to expand the beach, and soon acquired land between 75th Street and Rocky Ledge Beach. The City Council officially named the new site Rainbow Beach in 1918.

  • The two beaches were consolidated in 1959.

  • In 1999 the Chicago Park District constructed a large field house.

  • Designed by David Woodhouse Architects, the field house takes full advantage of Rainbow Beach and the spectacular views of the lakefront and skyline.

  • A natural area located at the northeast end of the beach includes 9.18 acres of dune habitat.

  • The 57th Street Beach has been used by generations of Chicagoans.

  • In 1993, the Chicago Park District constructed a new beach house for the beach, and beach-goers can enjoy a beautiful view of the city skyline.

  • Grill in designated areas only and dispose of coals in red barrels.

  • Sports such as kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized board or paddle sports are allowed at the north end of 57th Street Beach.

  • Distance swimming area: parallel to shore from 55th St. south to pier.

  • Just across from the Museum Of Science & Industry.

  • Spectacular views of the city.

  • Spend some time at the beach or take a walk and check the other nearby attractions like the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum.

  • You can enjoy food and beverages from Del Campos - offering a Mexican menu.

  • Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, aka 31st Street Beach.

  • Visitors can find a “green roof” picnic area 

  • A public fishing dock, community room, and harbor store are all available at this location.

  • It offers visitors incredible views of the Chicago skyline from the south.

  • Beach goers can grab a bite at Pier 31 restaurant.

  • Noted for the restoration project that brought bison back to the land, Midewin has about 22 miles of mixed-use trails shared by hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

  • 9,000-acre National Forest Service prairie in Wilmington, IL.

  • Bring your bicycle and visit one of the hundreds of bunkers where ammunition was stored during WWII. 

  • There are nearly 9,000 acres open to the public with 33 miles of trail for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

  • Midewin is a wonder of wildflowers and birds for nature lovers.

  • You can also look for the bison that roam a large expanse of the prairie.

  • On site features Include : campgrounds with cabins, electricity and more amenities are available.

  • A popular spot for fishing, canoeing, hiking and mushroom hunting.

  • A treasured area for centuries, originally occupied by the Illini and Miami tribes in the 17th century.

  • The park surrounds the river for about 11 miles, totaling to 4,000 acres of land.

  • Has 11 miles of mapped trails shared by hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and, when weather permits, cross-country skiers.

  • Hikers can also explore a handful of unmarked foot paths.

  • Licensed fishers can try their luck in a number of old quarries scattered throughout the area.

  • Fast  fact: The waterfall located on the preserve,  is actually a dam, which the Civilian Conservation Corps built in the 1930s.

  • In 1973, the Forest Preserve District named the site Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, not after the familiar falls but in honor of Seymour “Bud” Waterfall, an early president of the District’s Board of Commissioners.

  • The closest parking lot to the Rocky Glen Waterfall is "Waterfall Glen parking lot".