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The Windy City Part 3: Parks and Recreation

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

With more than 600 parks, and 8,800 acres of green space, Chicago has been called a "city in a garden." There was no way to see everything during my visit. I did, however, get to discover the gems below, and I enjoyed each one.

Millennium Park

Cloud Gate

It is hard to believe that if you visited Chicago before mid-2004, the site where Millennium Park is now located, was a parking lot and railroad station. Today, the park draws an average of 25 million visitors a year.

Cloud Gate, affectionately referred to as "The Bean" by many, is the creation of British-Indian sculptor, Anish Kapoor. Kapoor created the liquid mercury-inspired sculpture using 168 giant, steel plates. The plates were then welded together to create a seamless surface that reflects the skyline, the park and the clouds. Cloud Gate is Kapoor's first, permanent, public, art installation in the United States and one of the largest in the world.

Harris Theater

Directly across from Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, is Harris Theater. This 1,499-seat, proscenium theater has hosted prominent artists such as Tom Hanks and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Lincoln Park

Stretching 1,214 acres, Lincoln Park is Chicago's largest park. The park has everything including ...

... fountains ...

... gardens ...

Steel Roots

... sculptures ...

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

... a lily pool ...

Alexander Hamilton

... statues, dog parks, walking paths, athletic fields, a 9-hole golf course, two museums and a zoo, which is up next.

Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 and is one of only three, major, free-admission zoos in the United States. There are over 300 species of animals at the zoo. Below are some of my favorites:

Lions, but no tigers or bears - oh my! (Sorry to disappoint.)

Cinerous Vulture

This vulture, that feeds on large mammal carcasses, is one of the largest and heaviest raptors in the world.

African Painted Dog

This wild canine is native to sub-Saharan Africa. Each dog has markings that are as unique as human fingerprints.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

It was a treat to be able to see this animal, as they are quite elusive and difficult to spot in the wild, due to being both nocturnal and reclusive.


These guys always make me think of Timon from Disney's The Lion King.


I have never seen a giraffe run and therefore incorrectly assumed that they were slow creatures. During my visit, I learned that giraffes can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour at full gallop.

If you're not interested in animals, the zoo also offers tranquil waterfalls ...

... statues and sculptures, and places to sit and enjoy the peaceful environment.

The city of Chicago also has beaches. In fact, the Lake Michigan shoreline is dotted with 24 beaches. Of all the activities I had planned for my trip to the Windy City, I did not expect to be lounging on a beach, but indeed I did.

I had a wonderful time discovering some of Chicago's outdoor spaces on this trip. There's more to come on my other Chicago discoveries soon.

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