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The 10 Best Neighborhood Parks In Chicago

By Gwendolyn Purdom in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 28, 2016 6:06PM

It goes without saying that between the world-renowned art and highly-anticipated programming in Millennium Park, the majestic Bloomingdale Trail and Lincoln Park's array of city institutions and lush natural features, Chicago's collective lawn groweth over with outstanding public green spaces. But beyond the tourist-laden headliners, the city's neighborhoods are dotted with prime, if underrated, parkland as well. We rounded up a few of our favorites across the city below. Is one of your favorites missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Palmisano Park, photo via Facebook

Palmisano Park
This park has great trails and hills for walking and running, and the peak of the hill has great views of the city, especially at night. Plus, the quarry lake near the back is cool, quiet and tranquil on even the hottest summer days. Expect to see elder Chinese folks doing tai-chi during the day, and amorous teenagers in the evenings.—Michael Una

Palmisano Park is located at 2700 S. Halsted St.

Winnemac Park, photo via Yelp

Winnemac Park
With a little bit of everything (walking trail, field house, running track, baseball diamonds, prairie garden, etc.), this Lincoln Square park attracts a loyal following of families, fitness buffs and nature enthusiasts. The nearly 40-acre park shares land with Chicago Public Schools (Amundsen High School and Chappell Elementary line its grounds) and has an unassuming, laid-back vibe. It's the kind of place that hosts a beloved unauthorized fireworks display each Fourth of July. Plus, its proximity to spots like Bang Bang Pie Shop's Ravenswood location make it a picnicker's dream.

Winnemac Park is located at 5100 N. Leavitt St.

Ping Tom Memorial Park, photo via Yelp

Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Park is easy to spot from the 19th St. overpass just East of Pilsen, but hard to get to. You kind of have to walk through the backyards of a Chinatown apartment complex. But it's awesome once you get there—lots of quiet space to wander, great views of downtown, an old railway bridges that crisscrossing the canal, some interesting Chinese temple-themed architecture and open grassy areas perfect for a picnic. Occasionally, you might catch a local Kung Fu club practicing on the lawn. —Michael Una

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

The Garden
This super rad park is hard to find, but well worth the effort if you want to practice launching your bicycle off a series of gnarly ramps. The trails range from easy to double diamond for the most radical among us, so there's plenty for beginners to try out. It's all made of dirt though, so skateboards and bladers need not apply.—Michael Una

The Garden is located at 3400 N. Rockwell St.

Palmer Square, photo via Facebook

Palmer Square Park
Cozier than its neighboring Logan Square or Humboldt Park, Palmer Square is made up of seven acres where you might spend an afternoon reading under a tree. There's a running track, and in the summer, festivals like Tour de Fat. It's a favorite hub of dog owners, and parents who take advantage of the park's Velveteen Rabbit-themed playground, which, let's be honest, is a pretty adorable feature whether you've got little ones or not.

Palmer Square Park is located at 2200 N. Kedzie Ave.

Indian Boundary Park, photo via Yelp

Indian Boundary Park
Indian Boundary is the kind of old-school park that's largely been phased out of the Chicago parks system—it's huge, it's weird, and there's all sorts of ways to hurt yourself, which means it's hella fun for kids and adults. There's also a duck pond, tennis courts, and a weird play area with tiny houses for kids to run around in, but the centerpiece of it all is a sprawling, wooden, multi-tiered castle. The maze-like paths that go in, up, and through the castle make for the most epic game of tag ever.—Michael Una

Indian Boundary Park is located at 2500 W. Lunt Ave.

Promontory Point in Burnham Park, photo via Yelp

Burnham Park

Technically, Burnham Park, named for famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, encompasses about 600 acres, including Museum Campus, Soldier Field, Northerly Island, etc. But it's Promontory Point, a parcel jutting out from the park's southern tip near Hyde Park, that's the tranquil highlight. Prairie-style landscape architect Alfred Caldwell (the guy behind Lincoln Park's lily pool) designed the grounds and there's an expansive (if distant) view of the city without the same level of chaos of some skyline viewing spots closer to downtown.

Burnham Park is located at 5491 S. Shore Drive.

North Park Nature Center, photo via Facebook

North Park Village Nature Center
It's like a field trip back to grade school biology class right in the North Side's backyard: you'll find wetland, prairie, savanna and woodland all within this preserve's 46 acres. The center itself offers a bunch of nature and wildlife classes and events for all ages, if you're into that kind of thing, but you can see the real thing on your own if you wander around the park long enough. A bird-watcher's paradise, for sure.

North Park Nature Center is located at 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

Marquette Park, photo via Yelp

Marquette Park
Even without its gymnasiums, auditorium, 9-hole golf course, and spray pool, this South Side park would be show-stopping. Maybe that's why The Blues Brothers chose to film part of their movie there (the scene where they run the Nazis off the bridge? Marquette Park.) There's the picturesque lagoon, the hundreds of trees, the rose and community gardens, plus all your standard city park staples (athletic fields, playgrounds, basketball courts). Kenzie Avenue splits the park in two and each half has sort of built its own personality accordingly—more active parkgoers playing soccer, softball, etc. to the east, and those visiting for more tranquil pursuits to the west.

Marquette Park is located at 6743 S. Kedzie Ave.

Oz Park, photo via Yelp

Oz Park
The thing that makes Oz Park so great just might be its archetypal charm. It's everything an urban neighborhood park should be. It has a community garden, tennis courts, a playground, and ball fields, and it's just a short walk from the Armitage Brown and Purple lines stop. Cutting through it on a summer evening, you'd spot a co-ed softball tournament, a movie screening or the Lincoln Park High School cross country team running drills, if not all three. And if that's not idyllic enough, there's always the whimsical statues of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man anchoring the park, too.

Oz Park is located at 2021 N. Burling St.