Baby-on-Board Review: Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

By Elizabeth Shapiro in Miscellaneous on Jul 3, 2007 3:00PM

Overwhelmed by the crowds 2007_07_LillyPool.jpgof poorly supervised campers at the Lincoln Park Zoo? Yearning to put a little zen back into your life? Your infant is sleeping, and you just need a quiet moment in a busy city? Discover the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

This serene oasis traces its roots (pun intended) to the 1930’s, when Alfred Caldwell took a rather festering Victorian garden and transformed it into an homage of the prairie. Even though it’s a historic landmark, many Chicago residents have never even heard of the place. You probably pass it without noticing: its entrance is on Fullerton, and it butts right up against the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Rocky paths meander around the focal lily pool, and many converge at an angular pavilion. Tall foliage and a waterfall attempt to cancel out the noises of the city, although a siren occasionally cuts through the peace. Chicagoist wouldn’t recommend this small park to kids who need a lot of stimulation, but it’s perfect for little ones curious about nature and for parents who want a beautiful landscape to hike around without leaving the city. On a recent trip, we got up close and personal to rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, butterflies, at least four different varieties of birds and 2007_07_LillyAnimal.jpginsects that skated over the surface of the pond. Our young kiddo was content to just take in the sights as we enjoyed a stroll through the native greenery; we can envision older children getting excited about the bold native wildlife, playing hide-and-go-seek around the craggy paths, or defending the pavilion as a fort.

The rocky terrain makes the pond best explored by slinging mamas or confident walkers. There are no bathrooms on the premises, but a quick back entrance into the zoo gives you access to theirs.

Life is hectic as a parent. Take a moment to breathe at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is located at Fullerton and Cannon, just north of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Come early and snag a parking spot on Cannon, use the zoo lot, or grab one of a bunch of buses whose routes go past the zoo.