While it’s easy to say that you can travel to the suburbs or even farther to experience some nature near Chicago, it’s entirely possible to bask in the great outdoors from within the city limits.
Let’s start with one of the more basic ones, which often gets overlooked simply because it is literally overshadowed by the city skyline. Grant Park has flowers, fields, benches, and fountains where you can enjoy a book, breathe in some fresh air, toss around a frisbee, and even see some wildlife. Bonus points if you manage to make it down there to see the sun rise over the lake. You might as well head up a little farther north and check out Millennium Park too, which features the breathtaking Lurie Gardens.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is an obvious choice, because it’s free and has an incredible amount of land and aquatic life for your enjoyment. At one of the entrances, you could be immediately greeted by a rhino. Some days, the polar bear is swimming in front of the glass. In the cat house, you can see the fierce looking tiger pace back and forth, making eye-contact with all those who dare do so. The Brookfield Zoo is also a great choice.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park is right up the street from the Zoo, and is really worth the trip. There are nature walks, animal preserves, and plant life with the added bonus of educational opportunities. They also have a lot of events all year round. If you are willing to spend the money, it’s always a good idea to check out the Shedd Aquarium on Museum Campus, which not only has over 8,000 aquatic animals, but it’s the largest indoor aquarium in the world!