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Activities

Hit the Lakefront Trail to run, walk, bike or rollerblade with the blue waters of Lake Michigan to one side and gorgeous, green parks to the other. Along the trail are green spaces, beaches and gardens ; recreation areas, including playgrounds, soccer fields, volleyball nets and tennis courts; and amenities like washrooms, drinking fountains and concession stands.

Eat, drink and play along Chicago's multi-award-winning Riverwalk, a scenic promenade on the water's edge that stretches from downtown Lake Street to Lake Michigan. See a bridge lift from inside the bridge house with a visit the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum (free on Sundays), and take in the world-famous architecture that lines the Chicago River.

Located in stunning Lincoln Park, this conservatory displays some of the most stunning flowers and rare plant life. No matter the season, a walk through this storied greenhouse will always feel like a stroll through paradise.

Located immediately east of Millennium Park, this play park for kids is an imaginative 20 acres designed in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . It comes complete with its own mini lighthouse, a life-sized ship, two climbing walls (fee starts at $15), 30-foot Suspension Bridge Towers, a quarter-mile long skating ribbon, an Enchanted Garden of upside-down trees, and several Picnic Groves.

One of the state's most popular tourist attractions features larger-than-life public art (don't miss Cloud Gate for a mirrored look at the skyline or splashing in Crown Fountain during warm weather months); a cutting-edge performance stage (the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Prizker Pavilion) which is a venue for free concerts and film screenings all summer; and the all-seasons beauty known as Lurie Garden. Make sure you check out the Millennium Park schedule for a listing of upcoming events and tours.

One of Chicago's most recognizable landmarks boasts gorgeous lakefront views. Over the summer you'll witness free weekly fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, as well as free outdoor concerts in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.

Chicago boasts hundreds of free public parks that cover over 8,000 acres of the city. Many feature wildlife havens like Northerly Island and North Pond Nature Sanctuary ; incredible landscape designs such as Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and Humboldt Park 's prairie river and boathouse; and athletic facilities such as the kayak boathouse in Ping Tom Memorial Park . You can also spend the day at one of the free public beaches , open Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs and rugged canyons are all part of the scenery of Chicago. Rich with history and beauty, hiking trails meander through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing, paddle boat cruises, cross-country skiing, trolley rides, fishing and picnicking.

Grant Park

  • 337 E. Randolph St. Chicago , Illinois 60601 [ View Map ]
  • Park Hours: 6:00 AM-11:00 PM
  • Park Supervisor: Jackie Guthrie (Daley Bicentennial Park)
  • Park Phone: (312) 742-3918

Proudly referred to as Chicago's "front yard," Grant Parkis a public park, 319 acres located in Chicago's central business district in the Loop Community area. Grant Park's most notable features include Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus. Named for United States President and Civil War General, Ulysses S. Grant, Grant Park was developed as one of Chicago's first parks and expanded through land reclamation. The park was the focus of several disputes in the late 1800s and early 1900s over open space use. It is bordered on the north by Randolph Street, on the south by Roosevelt Road, on the west by Michigan Avenue and on the east by Lake Michigan. The park contains performance venues, gardens, art work, sporting, and harbor facilities. It hosts public gatherings, and several large annual events.

A city centerpiece much like New York's Central Park, the site of three world-class museums -- the Art Institute, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium-- the park includes the museum campus, a 1995 transformation of paved areas into beautiful contiguous greenspace. Grant Park's centerpiece is the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, built in 1927 to provide a monumental focal point while protecting the park's breathtaking lakefront views. The park also contains baseball diamonds, tennis courts and plays host some the city's largest food and music festivals.

The park has been the site of many large civic events. In 1911, it hosted the major Chicago International Aviation Meet. It was the scene of clashes between Chicago Police and demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Pope John Paul II celebrated an outdoor mass to a large crowd here in 1979. Championship celebrations for the Chicago Bulls were staged here during the 1990s. The park was the location for President Barack Obama's Election Day victory speech on the night of November 4, 2008.

Annually, the park hosts some of Chicago's biggest festivals and spectator events including The Taste of Chicago—a large food and music festival held around the Independence Day holiday; The Grant Park Music Festival; and the park is also the site of the start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon. Since 2005, Lollapalooza, a popular series of rock concerts has taken place in the park.

Lincoln Park

  • 500-5700 N. Lake Shore Drive Chicago , Illinois 60614 [ View Map ]
  • Park Hours: 6:00 AM-11:00 PM
  • Park Supervisor: Lauren Quinn
  • Park Phone: (312) 742-7726

Lincoln Park lies along the lakefront from Ohio Street Beach in the Streeterville neighborhood, northward to Ardmore Avenue in Edgewater. The section of Lincoln Park adjacent to the Lincoln Park neighborhood contains the Lincoln Park Zoo , Lincoln Park Conservatory, Theatre on the Lake, a rowing canal, the Chicago History Museum , the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum , the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, the North Pond Nature Sanctuary, Lincoln Park Archery Range , North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach, numerous playing fields, a very prominent statue of General Grant as well as, a famous statue of Abraham Lincoln and many other statues.

Within the park guests will also find recreational facilities - the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, Margate Fieldhouse and Clarendon Park.

Be sure to check out one of the five playgrounds within Lincoln Park. Visit the newly renovated Telscer Playground at 3100 North Lake Shore Drive was renovated under the ChicagoPlays! program.

The American Planning Association (APA) 2010 National Planning Excellence, Leadership, and Achievement Awards honor the outstanding planning initiatives and individuals of the previous year.

APA singled out Lincoln Park as one of the 2009 Great Public Spaces in America, for its world class amenities, historic landmarks and buildings, and for the wide range of activities available to park users. Most notably, Lincoln Park is the result of a long-standing commitment by city leaders and citizens to protect 1,200 acres of some of Chicago's most valuable lakefront real estate for the public's use and benefit.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

2391 N. Stockton Drive Chicago , IL 60614 Phone: 312-742-7736

Soak in a tropical oasis that just happens to be smack dab in the middle of the city - the Lincoln Park Conservatory. With four display houses, the conservatory has an abundance of exotic and beautiful plantlife (don't miss the Orchid Room!), but the true scene stealers are the rolling, lush grounds that surround the conservatory. The pristinely manicured land is dotted with historic statues and four ornamental gardens, a lagoon and a pond. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is home to thousands of plants, as well as the annual flower show.

Millennium Park

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

Discover a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art that provide the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours, and family activities. In Millennium Park, you'll find a new kind of town square – a lively, spectacular gathering spot located in the heart of the city and a destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike.

Garfield Park

Even though Garfield Park's West Side revitalization project has a long way to go (it's not the safest place in the city...yet), there is one gem in this 'hood: the Garfield Park Conservatory. In the spirit of Earth Day (Tuesday 22), make the short trip west to appreciate it's natural beauty.

Chicago Sailing

3161 N. Elston Ave. Chicago , IL 60618 Phone:773-871-7245

With miles of beautiful freshwater lakefront, Chicagoans find certainly take advantage of the pristine Great Lake waters. One of many ways Chicago residents enjoy Lake Michigan in the spring, summer and fall is by sailboat. Don't know starboard from port? Not to worry. Chicago Sailing is one program that offers a variety of instruction, from privates to group lessons, all tailored to suit your comfort level and specific needs. Not interested in learning how to sail but still want to take a ride? Chicago Sailing offers private sailing charters and even has monthly BBQs. Bundle up - even in the thick of summer the lake water tends to be on the brisk side.

Bike and Roll Chicago

600 E. Grand Ave. Chicago , IL 60611 Phone: 312-729-1000

If you're heading to Chicago for a weekend jaunt, or even a weeklong plus vacation, why not rent a bike as your mode of transportation? At Bike and Roll you can rent a recreation bike, transportation bike, professional road bike, kids bike or inline skates (or even a segway for the brave at heart!). Bike and Roll has several locations throughout Chicago for riders' covenience including Millenium Park, Navy Pier, Wabash and Wacker and North Avenue Beach. Be sure to check the website before you book - they often post fun specials such as "Happy Hour" ($5 for rental from 5-8 p.m.) and half-off days.

Beach Volleyball

1600 N. Lake Shore Drive Chicago , IL 60614 Phone: 312-850-8196

Looking for a fun way to meet people and get a workout in at the same time? Head to North Avenue beach for a game of pick up beach volleyball or join of the handful of volleyball leagues geared towards newbies and seasoned players alike. The summer is unofficially beach volleyball season in Chicago where people flock to the shores of Lake Michigan to soak up some fun in the sun. More than 20,000 players join the Chicago Social Beach Volleyball League each season to bump, set and spike! Skill levels range from recreational to competitive with options of co-ed and all women's teams as well.

Volleyball Beach and Bash Tournament

  • register for a league
  • Volleywood Beach Bash and Tournament is the Midwest's largest adult Beach Volleyball tournament with over 300 teams and features many of the region's top players in our 2's divisions as well as people just out to have fun in our 4's and 6's divisions. Teams playing in the tournament are guaranteed 3 matches of play, fantastic prizes, and an incredible atmosphere to play Beach Volleyball. We've been running this tournament for over 10 years and it gets better each year! All divisions sell out so reserve your spot today!

    Divisions of Play:
    Men's 2's AA Coed 2's A
    Men's 2's A Coed 2's BB
    Men's 2's BB Coed 4's Competitive
    Men's 2's B Coed 4's Intermediate
    Women's 2's AA Coed 4's Recreational
    Women's 2's A Coed 6's Intermediate
    Women's 2's BB Coed 6's Recreational

    Roster Limits
    2's - 2 People 4's - 5 People 6's - 8 People

    Volleywood Tournament registration includes 3 games guaranteed, tournament t-shirts, prizes for top 2 teams in each division, access to discounted Beach Bash tickets at the time of registration, and all necessary tournament equipment. All divisions will have a start time of 9:00 AM.

  • Volleywood - Volleywood 2014

 

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