Chicago's Grant Park is the equivalent of New York City's Central Park. It plays an essential role in the everyday lives of Chicagoans by providing 319 acres of paths, Lake Michigan and open spaces for escaping the din and chaos of the surrounding city. Visitors to Chicago are often impressed with its beauty and size, making it a wonderful place to enjoy a bit of relaxation and get a better sense of what it's like to live in the Windy City. 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.
It's named in honor of United States President and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant. Significant, historical events have occurred in Grant Park, including clashes between Chicago Police and demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention; the location for President Barack Obama's Election Day victory speech in 2008; and championship celebrations for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks. It's also the annual site for the Grant Park Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, and start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon.
Art Institute of Chicago
Flanked by its well-known bronze lions at its Michigan Avenue entrance, the Art Institute of Chicago showcases a tremendous collection of art in a number of different mediums--paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs, video, textiles and architectural drawings. The museum also plays host to a number of traveling exhibits, such as works by Monet and Van Gogh. It is one of the world's premier art museums, housing a collection that spans 5,000 years.
Address: 111 S. Michigan Ave.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-5-p.m.Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Cost: Adults, $25; children 14+, students and seniors (65+), $19; free admission for children under 14
Opened May 26, 1927, the Buckingham Fountain is one of the Windy City's top attractions. It was donated to the city by Kate Buckingham as a memorial for her late brother, Clarence, and is considered a great Chicago centerpiece along the Lake Michigan shore. It is a popular destination spot for visitors and locals alike. Controlled by a computer in its underground pump room, it's a dazzling display that makes for a fantastic photo opportunity and a picture perfect background.
Address: 301 S. Columbus Drive
Hours: The fountain runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, from mid-April through mid-October, depending on weather.
Chicago Museum Campus
Located on the southern end of Grant Park, the Chicago Museum Campus was created after a reconfiguration of Lake Shore Drive in 1998. Previously, lanes ran through the middle of the area, dividing it and creating some tricky navigation from the parking lots to the museums. The lanes have been moved to the west, and the major attractions of the Museum Campus--Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Soldier Field--are connected by green space.
Maggie Daley Park
The park is named in honor of former Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley, wife of Richard M. Daley, the Windy City's longest-running mayor. The indoor/outdoor project includes an ice skating ribbon, playground and fieldhouse. Other features consist of a climbing park with a wall for experts and beginners; play garden for children; an enchanted forest with mirrored maze and kaleidoscope; The Lagoon, The Sea and The Harbor play apparatus for toddlers; a wave lawn for recreation for all ages; and a slide crater with spiral slide and wide and rail slide features.
Address: 337 E. Randolph St.
Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily for park hours; fieldhouse hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Cost: Admission is free. Skate rental is $12.
Marinas and Harbors
There are two pleasure and leisure boat marinas on Lake Michigan, which are accessed from Grant Park. Monroe Harbor provides 1,000 mooring cans, tender service and facilities in the expansive harbor east of the park. It is the home of the Chicago Yacht Club and the Columbia Yacht Club. DuSable Harbor northeast of the park, offers 420 boat docks and a harbor store.
Address: Both Harbors may be accessed off Lake Shore Drive near Monroe Street.
Located directly across the street from Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Millennium Park is one of the highlights of the city, and rivals Lincoln Park Zoo as Chicago's best free attraction. The park within a park most famously is home to Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, unofficially dubbed "The Bean."
Address: Millennium Park is located on the east side of downtown, bordered on the west by Michigan Avenue, on the east by Columbus Drive, on the north by Randolph Street and on the south by Monroe Street.
Hours: It is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Petrillo Music Shell
The Petrillo Music Shell hosts music performances during the Chicago Jazz Festival, Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago. Its area encompasses the entire block bounded by Lake Shore Drive to the east, Columbus Drive to the west, East Monroe Street to the north and East Jackson Street to the South. The structure was relocated to this site in 1978 from the south end of the park. The amphitheater and paved surface for public seating is in the southwest corner.
Address: 235 S. Columbus Dr.
Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 9 a.m.-midnight Friday, Saturday
Cost: Varies by event