Chicago’s largest park and a leisure destination for locals and visitors alike, Lincoln Park abuts its namesake neighborhood. This massive green space serves as a welcome escape from the urban hustle and bustle, whether it be for a short picnic lunch break or a day spent lounging and exploring.
Lincoln Park’s 1,200 acres (485 hectares) stretch for six miles (10 kilometers), from North Avenue north to Diversey Parkway, where it narrows along Lake Michigan and continues until the end of Lake Shore Drive. Most of the park’s pleasures are natural, though one of its highlights is sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Standing Lincoln, which shows the 16th president deep in contemplation, located in a garden east of the Chicago History Museum. From a little dock in front of pretty Café Brauer, a 1908 Prairie School architectural creation, you can rent two-person paddleboats and cruise the South Pond. Other notable attractions include the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, and North Avenue Beach. Guided tours take place mostly on foot or bike—both natural ways to explore the park’s trails and paths while listening to in-depth history and interesting facts from a guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Admission to the park is free; admission to each attraction within the park varies.
- Although dining options in the park itself are limited, simply wander into the Lincoln Park neighborhood to find restaurants and bars galore.
- Most of Lincoln Park and the zoo are accessible to wheelchair users. There are accessible parking places along Cannon Drive.
How to Get There
Lincoln Park is easily accessible by buses and El trains. Parking is limited on the residential streets of the populous Lincoln Park neighborhood, so public transportation is your best option.
When to Get There
The Windy City’s various seasons bring out different activities in the park. Stroll down the miles of walking paths to see the leaves turning in the fall; bundle up to watch local kids sledding on winter snow days; rent a bike to pedal through the blooming gardens in the spring; or bring a blanket and some sunscreen to sunbathe in the summer.
Lincoln Park Zoo
One of the park’s main highlights is the free Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open every day (though hours vary; check the website). Exhibits include the Regenstein African Journey, where you can get surprisingly close to animals who swim, hop, and crawl in natural environments. Enter via the Gateway Pavilion and snag a map, which shows times and locations for animal feedings, training demonstrations, and free zookeeper talks about various animals.