5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Chicago, IL

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Chicago.

Ping Tom Memorial Park

One of the more unique parks in the city of Chicago, Ping Tom Memorial is located on the Chicago River and across the street from the entrance to Chicago’s Chinatown. This is a gorgeous park for a picnic, especially if you’re picking up treats from Chinatown first. The park features Chinese-style landscaping, making it an exciting change of view for this Midwestern city.

Washington Park

A large park in South Chicago, with everything you’d want for an afternoon in the sun. Take a stroll along dozens of trails through the park, marvel at the foliage in the Arboretum (a living museum of different trees), and then take a break near the lake and enjoy the views. Washington Park is an oasis in a large city. A picnic in this park is like stepping out of the city without having to travel too far.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is a famous Chicago site, and is quite large, with many areas to enjoy. However, it can be crowded in several areas of the park, because it is a tourist attraction, so I suggest stopping at Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. Enjoy a relaxing meal next to the tranquility of the lily pool. Step into the shade of the nearby pavilion or spread a blanket on the large rocks overlooking the water. This is a perfect vista for family picnics or quiet, romantic afternoons.

Jackson Park

Jackson Park is located next to the Museum of Science and Industry in the heart of downtown Chicago. But, it is also a well-sized park, with plenty of space to roam and, more importantly, plenty of options for that perfect picnic spot. Try the Garden of the Phoenix (a Japanese Garden located on the small Wooded Island in the middle of Jackson Park). 57th Street Beach or 63rd Street Beach also make fantastic places to picnic if you’re looking for broad views of the lake, a chance to swim, and a sandy beach picnic.

Humboldt Park

Located just outside downtown Chicago, Humboldt is a picturesque suburban park with its own beach, large lagoons, and winding trails to explore. Grab a blanket and walk to the garden located on the small island of this park for a true, stunning escape from the city.

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Chicago, IL

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people having chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

Field Museum

1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

The Field Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum and is one of the largest such museums in the world. The museum maintains its status as a premier natural history museum through the size and quality of its educational and scientific programs, as well as due to its extensive scientific specimen and artifact collections. The diverse, high-quality permanent exhibitions, which attract up to two million visitors annually, range from the earliest fossils to past and current cultures worldwide to interactive programming demonstrating today’s urgent conservation needs.

Navy Pier

600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long pier on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. Navy Pier encompasses over 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions, and exhibition facilities and is one of the top destinations in the Midwestern United States, drawing nearly two million visitors annually. It is one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwest and is Chicago’s second most visited tourist attraction.

Millennium Park

121 N LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60602

The park was intended to celebrate the third millennium and is a prominent civic center near the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline that covers a 24.5-acre section of northwestern Grant Park. The area was previously occupied by parkland, Illinois Central’s rail yards, and parking lots. The park, which is bounded by Michigan Avenue, Randolph Street, Columbus Drive, and East Monroe Drive, features a variety of public art. As of 2009, Millennium Park trailed only Navy Pier as a Chicago tourist attraction, and by 2017 it had become the number one tourist attraction in the Midwestern United States.

Lincoln Park Zoo

2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

Lincoln Park Zoo is a 35-acre zoo located in Lincoln Park. The zoo was founded in 1868, making it among the oldest zoos in North America. It is also one of a few free admission zoos in the United States. The zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Lincoln Park Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals. The zoo’s exhibits include big cats, polar bears, penguins, gorillas, reptiles, monkeys, and other species totaling about 1,100 animals from some 200 species. Also located in Lincoln Park Zoo is a burr oak tree that dates to 1830, three years before the city was founded.

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Best Hikes Near #Chicago

Summer is nearly upon us, which means you’re probably starting to think about ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Hiking is one of the most rewarding summer activities – you explore new areas, get in touch with nature, and get great exercise. While the lack of mountains in Northern Illinois may not make it a famous hiking destination, we’ve got a list of awesome hikes you can do if you’re in the Greater Chicago area.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

This one is for beginner hikers or those who don’t have the time or means to travel outside the city. It’s a popular walking, jogging, and biking path along Lake Michigan. You’ll enjoy stunning views of the lake and skyline while passing through various parks and beaches along the way.

While the trail is flat and paved, you can make it as strenuous as you want – there are over 18 miles of trail! Other great trails within the city of Chicago include:

·   Lincoln Park Trail: This 5+ mile loop trail is more wooded and includes a section of the Chicago Lake Trail.

·   The 606: This nearly 3 miles path is on a reclaimed elevated rail line.

If you want to get out of the city for better scenery and more challenging hikes, read on!

Waterfall Glen

Located about an hour outside the city in Darien, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a beautiful natural area that is home to over 700 native plant species in both prairie and woodland settings. There are 11 miles of trails here, which you can also cross-country ski on in the winter. And the slightly hilly terrain adds manageable challenge. In the spring and summer, the park is a perfect place to spot birds and wildflowers.

You can view the trail map to plan your route here. Make sure not to miss the cascading Rocky Glen Waterfall or the view from the Sawmill Creek bluff overlook.

Indiana Dunes State Park

For a different kind of scenery, drive across the state line to Indiana Dunes State Park (about one hour from Chicago). This wild and primitive landscape features rugged dunes towering 200 feet over Lake Michigan. Hiking trails wind through both the woods and the dune landscape, with overlooks towards the lake. And if you work up a sweat hiking, you can head down to the beach to cool off after!

Starved Rock State Park

You only need to drive an hour and a half outside of Chicago to feel like you’re a world away. Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County is a stunning wilderness area on the Illinois River. It has many steep bluff and canyons, which have breathtaking waterfalls pouring over their sides in the Spring or after a heavy rain.

Hiking along the bottom of the canyons will get you up close the waterfalls. If you want a view from on high, take the trail to the Lover’s Leap Overlook. This truly is one of Illinois’s most beautiful parks, so if you’re looking to snap some beautiful photos on your hike, this is your spot.

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Things to Do for the Fourth of July in Chicago

Everyone’s favorite summer holiday is quickly approaching! Nothing says July 4th like BBQs, pool days, parades, and of course – fireworks! While last year most firework shows and celebrations had to be called off due to the pandemic, this year, some celebrations are able to return. Read on to see what’s happening around Chicago this Independence Day and gather up some ideas for your Fourth of July weekend.

Fireworks

Great news! The city of Chicago is bringing firework shows back this year to celebrate the holiday, which means you can spend your Independence Day night watching a stunning (free) firework display off of Navy Pier! You can even make a day of it and spend the whole day at Navy Pier, as most of its attractions have reopened. These include the country’s largest rooftop bar and lots of waterfront restaurants. There’s also a beer garden which will be hosting Live on the Lake!, a series of musical performances every Sunday. You can catch the bands performing from 2 to 8 pm before the fireworks go off.

Booze Cruise

Want to keep the party going until Monday? Hop on the Red, White, and Booze Cruise at 1 pm on July 5th. You’ll enjoy city views from a spacious 3-story yacht on the breezy outer decks or hit the air-conditioned dance floor indoors to groove to Top 40 hits spun by a DJ. Your ticket includes giveaways and a drink at the afterparty (there’s a full bar where you can get more drinks, too.)

African/Caribbean International Festival of Life

This 18th annual festival of Afro-Caribbean culture returns this year to Washington Park. The festival takes place from July 2nd through July 5th from noon to 10 pm daily. Enjoy international food, arts and crafts, and the event’s main attraction – two concert stages featuring lots of hip-hop, reggae, gospel, and soul performers. Four-day passes are just $30 and you can buy them and learn more here.

Enjoy the Water

Spending time along the water is always nice on a sweltering July day, and between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, this city has plenty of it! Get on the river by renting a kayak, a cute little retro-style electric boat, or even chartering an Island Party Boat with booze and a captain. Or just wander along the river, enjoying all the shops and restaurants along Chicago’s Riverwalk. If you’d prefer expansive views of the lake, walk or bike the 20-mile stretch of trail along Chicago’s lakefront.

Take a Swim

Simply enjoying the view of the water not enough for you on a hot day? Then you’re going to want to hit one of Chicago’s downtown beaches and take a dip in Lake Michigan. A few great ones to visit on the 4th include:

·   Oak Street Beach – conveniently located near the Magnificent Mile, this beach is known for its volleyball courts.

·   North Avenue Beach – this popular peninsula of sand jutting out into the lake is right near the Lincoln Park Zoo, which would make a great combined day of fun with kids.

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Arboretums and Botanical Gardens to Visit in Chicago

When considering a vacation, or even just a day out with the family, why not consider visiting a local arboretum or botanical garden?  You can enjoy a delightful getaway with a visit to one of these beautiful gateways to all that nature has to offer.

Arboretums and botanical gardens work to promote common respect and educates with a drive towards an appreciation of the world of gardening as well as the insects that work to pollinate our plants and flowers. 

These nature monuments are just waiting to be discovered and welcome all visitors for a day of tranquility, enjoying their peaceful beauty.  Make sure to check out one of the arboretums or botanical gardens listed below.

Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022

The Chicago Botanic Garden has more than 50,000 members—one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden. People of all ages, interests, and abilities participate in programs, take classes, and stroll the grounds year-round.

Garfield Park Conservatory

300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most stunning botanical conservatories in the nation. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Conservatory showcases thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens. Year-round, visitors can enjoy the lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors, or more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens, nature play spaces for children, a water lily pond, and much more.

Lurie Garden

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Lurie Garden in Millennium Park combines naturalistic plantings and ecologically sensitive maintenance practices to create an urban oasis for city dwellers and wildlife alike.

The Morton Arboretum

4100 Illinois Rt 53, Lisle, IL 60532

Visit The Morton Arboretum to understand the rich diversity of trees in the world and the benefits they bring to people, communities, and the environment. Witness science and conservation in action. Be a champion of trees!

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens

7402 W Lake Katherine Dr, Palos Heights, IL 60463

Connecting people with nature, Lake Katherine is an 85-acre non-profit park that includes woodlands, prairie, wetlands, gardens, and a 10-acre lake.  Lake Katherine provides year-round activities and fun for the whole family. The park offers approximately 6 miles of hiking trails, including a scenic trail around the lake and near a beautiful waterfall. 

Wilder Park Conservatory

225 Prospect Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126

Located in the southwest corner of Wilder Park, the Wilder Park Conservatory is home to a wide variety of plants. In addition, youth education programs are offered with our in-house horticulturist.

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Things to Do for Mother’s Day in Chicago

Mother’s Day is coming up next month! The moms in our lives work so hard and give so much, so it’s important to take a day to make them feel special. Whether you’re celebrating your own mother, a step-mother, the mother of your children, or a friend who is a mom, here are some ideas of wonderful things to do with her.

Batter & Berries

Since Mother’s Day always falls on a Sunday, it’s traditional for many people to take their mom out for brunch. This is always a winning idea, and in Chicago, there’s no better place for brunch than Batter & Berries! This eclectic café gives back to the community by collaborating with local artisans and purveyors. While you’re there, make sure you try their world-famous French toast flight, which includes a piece of each of their signature French toast flavors. But if you prefer a savory breakfast, they have you covered with options like biscuits and gravy with chicken sausage, ribeye omelets, and cheese-crusted hash browns.

Promontory Point

May is the beginning of picnic season! The weather is warming up, trees and flowers are blooming, and outdoor celebrations are a safe option during COVID-19. A great place to take your mom for a picnic locally is Promontory Point, located in Burnham Park. This peninsula juts into Lake Michigan and will treat you to a gorgeous view.

Chicago Botanic Garden

A lot of people get their moms flowers for Mother’s Day – but how about taking her to see thousands of blooming flowers? The Chicago Botanic Garden is a lovely place to spend Mother’s Day with your special someone while marveling at nature’s beauty together. You can meet at 11 am for a Woods Walk or explore the garden’s 385 acres with millions of plants on your own. Admission is free but you’ll need to reserve tickets for timed entry ahead.

Paint & Sip

Is that mom in your life fun-loving? It might be nice to plan an activity! One idea that everyone will love is a Paint & Sip, where you’re provided with canvas, paints, and instruction to have fun together painting your own personal masterpieces. Local Black-owned business Wrightful Expressions is hosting a Mother’s Day Sip ‘n Paint Brunch on May 9 from 11 am to 3 pm. Your admission includes materials, brunch and a mimosa, a photo, and a raffle ticket.

Alinea

If your mom is more of the traditional type, you might want to treat her to a classy night out. Consider Alinea, which has been proclaimed the best restaurant in Chicago (and seventh-best in the world!) by Chicago Magazine. Located in Lincoln Park, Alinea has three Michelin Stars and offers Contemporary American fare served up by Chef Grant Achatz. All those accolades mean a night out here is pricey, but the plates are creative and the restaurant is committed to delivering more than a meal; they give you an experience.

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Best Car Washes in Chicago, Illinois

If you’re looking for a place to wash your car and get the best service for your money, we have a few great suggestions for you in the city of Chicago, Illinois. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own car or a rental car, clean or dirty, old or new, whether you’re on vacation or close to home, these car washes and detailers are guaranteed to make your vehicle look like a million bucks. These guys have seen it all. Don’t be afraid to show up with your cookie crumbs, your beach sand, or your toddler’s fast-food mess into the shop. You’ll be amazed at your car’s transformation! Let’s take a closer look at what car washes Chicago has to offer.

First, we recommend Detail Works. These services are by appointment only, so make sure you call first or go online. Every one of their employees have had years of experiencing detailing vehicles. They wash and polish both the exterior and the interior of your car and even offer paint correction. They service all kinds of vehicles form small to large cars, small to large SUV’s, minivans, full-sized vans, pick-ups, and motorcycles. They also offer ceramic coating, which serves to make your car shine as if it were driven off the showroom floor.

Second, we suggest Auto Boutique Chicago. This shop offers all kinds of services from interior and exterior detail to engine cleaning and pet hair removal. They also restore cloudy headlights and expertly remove bug bodies after a long car trip. Their services range in price according to the size of your car, and service vehicles of all types such as vans, sedans, trucks, even buses. They even advertise they can get swirl marks out of black paint.

Finally, you might just want to check out We Wash Hand Car Wash & Detail Center. At We Wash Detail Center, they have all kinds of packages from which to choose from. From a simple car wash to wheel rim repair, from odor removal to window tinting, these folks do it all! They can restore cloudy headlights, do light bumper and paint repair, repair leather, and remove dents. They also service motorcycles and even boats. If you have a specific service done for your car, give We Wash Detail Center a call and see what they can do for you.

If you’d like to save a little money and be done in five minutes or less, you can visit some local drive through car washes as well, such as Fullerton Express Car Wash on Fullerton Ave., Super Car Wash on Damen Ave., or Express Car Wash on W. Irving Park Rd. In a pinch, these drive through car washes will help keep you looking good until you can get that detailing done.

Wherever you decide to go, your car will be well taken care of. In the great city of Chicago, Illinois, you’ll find detailers who truly care about their work and, most importantly, your car. With our recommendations, you’ll be in excellent hands.

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Pet-Friendly Hotels Around Chicago

Those of us with pets know it can be hard to travel. You have to arrange for a pet sitter, spend extra money paying them, stock up on food and supplies before you leave, and deal with guilt for leaving your furry friend behind.

One solution that works well for easy-going or adventurous is bringing them along with you! So, if you’re planning a trip to Chicago and want to (or have to) bring your fur baby along for the ride, you’ll need accommodations that are pet-friendly. To give you a jumpstart, we’ve analyzed a few of the very best hotels and B&Bs in Chicago that accept pets. All are highly rated and we’ve included a variety of options from budget-friendly to luxurious. Read on and choose the one that best serves your needs!

The Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago

If you’re looking for a hotel that’s easy on the budget but still conveniently downtown, book a room at The Westin, a casual hotel located right on the Magnificent Mile. The hotel comes with its own steakhouse and Starbucks café, as well as other amenities like meeting rooms, a fitness center, and a spa. Rooms are comfortable, with lake or city views, and suites add features like marble foyers, living rooms, and kitchenettes. Wi-Fi and breakfast are available for a fee. Unfortunately, cats are not permitted, but you may bring one dog (up to 50 lbs.). Food bowls and beds for your pooch are available and the nearest park is two blocks away.

Park Hyatt Chicago

For the ultimate luxury experience, check yourself into the Park Hyatt Chicago. This high-end hotel boasts rooms with free Wi-Fi, large flat-screen TVs, and city views – and the option to upgrade to a room with lake views and a whirlpool tub. While you’re not lounging in the comfort of your room, you can swim in the pool, sip a cocktail on the rooftop terrace, or work out in the fitness center.  Your pet will be treated like a VIP (very important pet) and receive a bed, food bowl, and treats! While there is a $100 pet fee (that covers up to six nights), it will be donated in its entirety to PAWS animal shelter.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco

Bringing more than your pet along with you? A fun place for families to stay is the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. This hotel makes a point of being super family-friendly by providing kids with welcome gifts and animal print bathrobes! A stay here will be very comfortable for adults in your party, too, due to their babysitting services that will give you an opportunity to take a little break. And Kimpton Hotels go above and beyond when it comes to being pet-friendly. They’ll allow ANY pet that fits through the door, no matter the species, at no additional charge. The concierge will be able to recommend pet-friendly activities around the city and you can borrow a pet bed, bowls, or mats to keep your pet comfy in your room!

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Best Legitimate Places to get Vaccinated near ORD

There are currently three vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the US government—Pfizer/BioTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.  Depending on what region of the country you live in will determine which brand will be available to you.

If you are considering receiving the vaccine, it is advised that you look around for a distribution center and make an appointment.  Many of the centers that are administering the vaccine do require patients to have an appointment ahead of time.

Places To Receive The Vaccine

When looking to receive the COVID vaccine, you can contact the local public health department to set up an appointment. 

Chicago Department of Public Health

333 South State Street Room 200

Chicago, IL 60604

312.747.9884

For Chicago residents, your first choice to receive your COVID vaccination is from your primary health care provider, health clinic, or your local hospital.  Over 600 health care providers have been authorized to distribute the vaccine.  Make sure to call ahead of time as many require appointments.

Specific employers have been granted authorization to administer the COVID vaccine to essential workers groups.  If you are planning to receive your vaccination via your employer, there is no need to take any further action.

Several Chicago retailers are authorized to distribute the vaccine as well.  It is suggested that you call ahead of time, as an appointment may be necessary.

·         Walgreens

·         Mariano’s

·         Walmart

·         Jewel Osco

·         Chicago Costco Pharmacies

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Great Places to Stay Traveling to Chicago

Parking near ORD, try onairparking.com for the best rates!

Do you have travel to Chicago coming up soon? Whether you’ve been to the city before or it’s your very first time, if you don’t have relatives or friends to stay with, you’re going to be looking for a quality place to rest your head.

Finding the very best place can be overwhelming when you have to consider all the factors, like price, comfort, service, health & safety, location, and more! To give you a jumpstart, we’ve analyzed a few of the very best hotels and B&Bs in Chicago. All are very different -from quirky to traditional- but highly rated. Read on to see why these are your best options, and then choose the one that best serves your needs!

The Robey

If you’re looking for the cool factor, look no further than The Robey. The rooms are hip, with a modern, minimalist design. Other cool amenities in the hotel include bikes for loan, a rooftop cocktail bar, a Cabana Club, and a rooftop pool. It’s also a preferred place in Chicago for events, should you be in town for an event. They host a wide range of events in their various spaces, from brunches to cocktail parties to meetings.

The Wicker Park Inn

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, chances are you’ll be cramming a lot into your days. If you want a quiet and relaxing place to stay, book a room at The Wicker Park Inn. This charming B&B is well-located in a trendy area, so it’s well poised for exploring the city. And when you return in the evening, you can unwind in modern rooms that manage to combine style with quirky accents. You’ll enjoy amenities like free continental breakfast, in-room temperature controls, and high-speed internet. If you’re looking for a long term stay, they also have cozy apartments with kitchens.

Four Seasons Hotel

Have some junior explorers tagging along with you on your trip? A fun place for families to stay is the Four Seasons Hotel. This hotel will provide kids with fun activities like pizza-making classes, spa days, a hotel storyteller, and an on-site ice cream shop! The suite options for accommodations will ensure your whole family is comfortable. And the location right on the Magnificent Mile is close to kid-favorites like American Girl Place and The LEGO Store.

Hilton Chicago O’Hare International Airport

If you’re taking a quick trip through the city and want to be close to the airport, book a stay at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which is practically located on the tarmac. You can’t get more convenient to the airport than a runway view from your hotel room window and a covered walkway connecting the hotel to the terminal! Downtown Chicago is only 50 minutes away on the Blue-Line. And in addition to the prime location, you’ll be enjoying a luxurious stay, with access to a gym, a sauna, an indoor pool, room service, on-site restaurants, and a market.

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