5 Stellar Things to Do and Places to See If You’re a Nature Lover in Chicago


Known for its architecture and skyscrapers, there’s so much more to Chicago than the stereotypical concrete jungle.

In fact, the case is quite the opposite for nature-lovers.

Whether you’re a local or someone visiting from out of town, the Windy City is a surprisingly beautiful place to spend some time with nature within a stunning cityscape.

That is, if you know where to look.

We’ve broken down some awesome outings for Chicagoans of all shapes and sizes who want experience some natural beauty alongside their downtown adventures. Traveling solo? Looking to spend a memorable afternoon with your family? Any combination of the following is totally fair game!

Peek the Park Scene

Chicago’s park scene is nothing to scoff at, especially those situated near the downtown area.

Want to peruse some plant life in Grant Park? Looking for a mix of city sightseeing and an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors like Millenium Park? Seriously: there are no shortage of places to soak up the sun or take a stroll

Oh, and those who love to go out and about with their pooches are in for a treat. Chicago is often cited as one of the dog-friendliest cities in the United States for a reason, namely the abundance of pup-centric parks.

Wag! notes that the city of Chicago boats 23 dog-friendly parks, “most of which have areas where pups can play off-leash.” Some pup-friendly highlights Jackson Bark (yes, you read that right), Forest Park and Montrose Beach.

Hit Up the Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk is a must-see for those looking to take it easy while getting outdoors. Beyond the abundance of shops and restaurants, activities like kayaking and boat rides along the Chicago River offer a one-of-a-kind view of the famous Lake Shore Drive. And hey, if you look closely you might be able to see some local perch or bass swimming about, too.

Snap Some Snapshots at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Encompassing 27 individual gardens and exhibits, recent photos at the Chicago Botanic Garden are telling in terms of its natural beauty. In addition to its plant life to marvel at, the Gardens host a slew of outdoor events for visitors which are a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

From yoga in the gardens to photography lessons and kite festivals, there’s truly something for all nature lovers here.

Check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory

Another gem of the local park system, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is home to a number of flower shows which run year-round. If you’re looking for a nature-centric “escape” from the big city, look no further. This getaway allows you to get up close with a number of exotic plants, including giant rubber trees, palms and, of course, orchids.

Trek the Lakefront Trail

Representing one of the best running trails in the city, this 18 mile-trail takes you along scenic views and welcomes both runners and bikers year-round. The perfect place to catch a race on any given weekend, there also tons of landmarks and spots to take photos throughout the trail to make your adventure even more memorable.

Don’t assume that Chicago is little more than a “meh” metropolis if you’re in love with nature. These activities only scratch the surface of what outdoorsy types and animal lovers can look forward to in the Windy City: either way, we recommend these spots to anyone and everyone visiting!

Author: Susan Melony