The 10 Best Places To Be Alone In Chicago

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 4, 2014 8:30PM

We love the hustle and bustle of city life, but sometimes we just need a few moments of peace alone with ourselves. Everyone has those favorite places they go to when they need to take a deep breath, relax a little and collect their thoughts.

Today we share with you some of our favorite places in the city we like to escape to when we crave some solitude. If you feel like being generous and sharing your own favorite quiet spot in the city, do so in the comments. We promise to never engage in conversation and keep to ourselves if we cross paths while visiting these favorite solitary spots.

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(Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond by Dawn Mueller)

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond
Taking a walk by yourself can be an excellent way to clear the mind. However, the problem with urban living is that all too often a simple walk around the block can lead you past the store—when you know you’re out of milk—or the Post Office—which you know you have to get to at some pointand then all of a sudden your mind is swimming with to-do lists. That’s why it’s best to do your solo walking amongst nature. Lincoln Park’s zoo and conservatory, neighboring attractions, are good places to start but if you’re looking for something a little further off the beaten path, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (located in between the two) is a beautiful, shaded oasis. A calming walk around the peaceful water—filled with fish, turtles, frogs and other pond dwellers—has taken my stress level down a notch on more than one occasion. — Katie Karpowicz

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond is located in Lincoln Park.


The Bar at Vera
What’s the deal with sherry? It’s stodgy and old-fashioned right? Wrong. And the bar at Vera is the best place to learn about it in Chicago. A solo diner can grab a lesson about Sherry from the well-versed staff alongside some delicious Spanish food. — Melissa McEwen

Vera located at 1023 W. Lake St.


The Retention Pond At Henry C. Palmisano Park
One of the great things about living near one of Chicago’s largest nature parks is there are plenty of spots to get away from the urban din within its 27 acres. For me, that means walking all the way down to the edge of the retention ponds, stocked with goldfish, bluegill, large mouth bass and green sunfish. With the dolematic limestone walls carved from over a century of excavation serving as a backdrop, the pond serves as one of the most beautiful views in the city when the sun sets. If you can’t clear your mind, write or sit mindlessly watching the fish swim just below the surface, you aren’t trying hard enough. —Chuck Sudo

Henry C. Palmisano Park is located at 2700 S. Halsted St.

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(The Healy-Millet Stained Glass Dome by Debbie Stromquist)

Healy-Millet Stained Glass Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center
Many know of the beautiful Tiffany Dome located in the Chicago Cultural Center, but not much is said about the Healy-Millet dome located on the second floor. Located on the north side of the building, it is actually larger in diameter than the Tiffany Dome but is located in an area that doesn’t see as much foot traffic. The color and detail are warm and inviting. The floor lights under the marble floor further enhance the reverential feeling in the place. I can’t think of a better example of juxtaposition than walking off busy Michigan Avenue to a room that immediately calms you. Whenever I need a moment to just relax and recharge, this is immediately where I go. — Paul Leddy

The Healy-Millet dome is located on the 2nd floor of the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington St.


McKinley Park Lagoon
This sprawling 69-acre park on the Southwest Side contains one of the most peaceful lagoons in Chicago. Originally designed as a wading lagoon, McKinley Park’s watering hole now contains a wide variety of fish for catching and releasing. It also has plenty of space along its waterline for sitting, relaxing and letting your cares float away like a paper boat on its waters. —Chuck Sudo

McKinley Park is located at 2210 W. Pershing Rd.


Japanese Screen Gallery at Art Institute of Chicago
One of my favorite activities to do alone when I want to relax is roam the galleries at any of the local art museums in Chicago. And if I have a full day, I love to spend it admiring the massive collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. Tucked away in a back corner is one of my favorite spots in the city to head to when I need some silence to collect my thoughts. Even though it has seen some design changes since Japanese architect Tadao Ando first created the gallery for the museum in the late 80s, it still remains a cool and dark place of tranquility. You enter the gallery through closed doors, greeted by large free-standing dark beams of wood. Pass through this minimalistic forest and gaze at some truly beautiful Japanese screens and pottery. Take a breather while sitting on the long dark wood bench, closing your eyes and taking in the space of silence tucked inside an otherwise bustling tourist attraction. The gallery isn't soundproof and occasionally you'll get a noisy guest passing through, but most people who step inside understand how special the hushed surroundings are. I always find myself lingering inside, just a few more stolen moments of peace and quiet in the city. — Lisa White

The Japanese Screen Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 S. Michigan Ave.

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(Ping Tom Memorial Park by Chuck Sudo)

Ping Tom Memorial Park
You may not be able to swim in the Chicago River but you can enjoy its tranquility at this 12-acre Chinatown park built on a former rail yard. I love sitting here after riding sprint on my bike, catching my breath and in awe of the views. A new boathouse rents kayaks for those of you who want to row along the south branch of the river and there is plenty of greenspace to sit, walk, meditate and simply watch the river and the Amtrak drawbridge to the southwest of the park. It’s removed enough from the heart of Chinatown to allow you to clear your head, and close enough for you to grab a quick meal after you’ve reset yourself. —Chuck Sudo

Ping Tom Memorial Park is located at 1700 S. Wentworth Ave.


The Bar at Bread & Wine
The solo diner is often misunderstood and mistreated. They aren’t necessarily a lonely soul, maybe they just want to enjoy a nice meal on their own. Some restaurants stick them at table for two, which is boring. Here you can sit at the bar and watch chef Michael Dean Reynolds and his staff cook you an amazing meal. If you get tired of watching some beef sizzling or noshing on their fantastic charcuterie, the lighting is perfect for reading. — Melissa McEwen

Bread & Wine is located at 3732 W. Irving Park Rd.


The Bench Mural at Loyola Park
Some people like to hate on Roger’s Park, but in the 4 years I spent in the neighborhood I grew accustomed to its gritty charm. Aside from its bounty of ethnic restaurants, it’s also an oasis for local art. The sculpture garden on Farwell and Glenwood is always a great conversation starter, but for times of personal reflection, my favorite place is the bench mural at Loyola park. Every summer, the community invites it’s citizens to paint a portion of the concrete bench that stretches for 600 feet along the beach. The benches are not very comfortable, but the spectacle facilitates some contemplation. Even if you visit often, you’ll always find something new. —Erika Kubick

The Bench Mural begins at Farwell Avenue and ends at Morse Avenue.


Riding the Brown Line
Like most people, I have my tales of woe and trouble attempting to navigate my travels using the CTA, whether it be trains that are suddenly express or buses that never arrive. Yet despite all the hassles one of my favorite things to do when I want to be alone is hop on the Brown Line and ride down through the city. It might be a bit nostalgic since one of my Mom's favorite things to do when she first visited me when I moved to Chicago was ride the Brown Line over the river at night to catch the beautiful downtown view. But Mom was on to something, the view from the Brown Line as it passes over the Chicago river is breathtaking, looking out towards the lake and up at all the tall buildings above. First off, unless it is peak travel times, the Brown Line usually isn't too busy or packed. Second, they have single seats so you won't be disturbed by a jostling neighbor riding next to you. And finally besides that beautiful downtown view, you also get to enjoy some more residential neighborhoods across the city. Hop off downtown at the Harold Washing Library stop and do a little light reading, jump off at the Belmont and enjoy some shopping in Lakeview or ride up to Albany Park and disembark at the Kedzie stop and enjoy a wonderful meal of Middle Eastern cuisine at Semiramis or Salam (my personal favorite hummus and falafel in the city). Staring out the window while my city passes by is one of my favorite ways to enjoy some time alone and appreciate all that Chicago has to offer. — Lisa White

For Chicago Brown Line station locations and schedules, visit the CTA's website.