L-Stop Musts

L-Stop Musts: The Parks Edition

Liam MartelDespite its proximity to downtown, Lakeshore East Park is an oasis for Chicagoans.

As temperatures rise and spring arrives, there’s no place better to appreciate the pleasant weather than a park. However, they can be hard to find in an urban environment like Chicago, so The Phoenix compiled three parks off the Red Line for students to check out.

Loyola: Loyola Park (1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.)

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but where better to start this list off than right in Loyola’s backyard? For those who may have forgotten during the cold, bleak winter months how wonderful Loyola Park is, this is your reminder.

Just a few blocks from the edge of campus is the entrance to the park’s sprawling beach. Almost a mile long, the beach has room for a variety of activities — you can bask in the beaches’ peaceful energy on a relaxing walk or have a fun beach day with some friends.

For those looking to play some outdoor sports, the park offers tennis and basketball courts, a multipurpose field and baseball diamonds.

A lighthouse and its pier add a unique flair to the beach’s landscape. Often, people can be found scattered along the pier’s edge, deep in conversation as waves crash beneath their feet. 

The park’s proximity to campus, incredible access to the lake and surprising surplus of amenities are sure to fill your park-going needs.

Liam Martel Loyola Park is a short walk from Lake Shore Campus.

Fullerton: Oz Park (2021 N. Burling St.)

After a short five-minute walk from the Fullerton stop, visitors of Oz Park will be greeted by a statue of Dorothy and Toto from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Oz Park was named in honor of Chicago resident L. Frank Baum, author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Its Wizard of Oz theme can be seen throughout the park which gives it a distinct flair. Additionally, several other statues of the book’s characters can be found throughout the park.

The Emerald City Garden may not have many plants blooming now, but once spring arrives it will surely be a beautiful space to enjoy a sunny afternoon. Dorothy’s Playlot is a cute castle-themed playground that leans into the park’s theme.

The 14.4 acre space has plenty of trees to provide shade for visitors looking for refuge on warmer days. Additionally, its stunning view of the downtown skyline will serve as a remarkable backdrop for visitors picnicking on the park’s grassy areas.

Regardless of if visitors are fans of Wizard of Oz or not, Oz Park is sure to charm you with its cute theme and spacious environment.

Fullerton: Lincoln Park (500-5700 N. Lake Shore Dr.)

Although it may be a 20-minute walk from the Fullerton stop, Lincoln Park is worth the trek.

Spring in the Midwest can be unpredictable, so you may find yourself planning a nice trip to visit the park but are met with a 30-degree cold front instead. This park has a hidden gem that provides the perfect solution to your problem — the Lincoln Park Conservatory. 

After reserving a free ticket on their website, visitors can enter into the conservatory’s luscious, green paradise. The building’s glass domes provide refuge from the cold air outside and allow thousands of beautiful, exotic plants to flourish.

The park is also home to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which offers free admission. The zoo is home to many fascinating animals, but some standouts are the red panda, seals and baby black-and-white colobus monkey and its family. 

After exiting the south end of the zoo, there’s a nature walk over a pond, often featuring some menacing Canadian geese. The path can take you toward a monument dedicated to Ulysses S. Grant or a green space as wide as eight city blocks with a beautiful view of the skyline that would be excellent for a picnic.

With its combination of unique and traditional park offerings, this park is a must-see. 

Liam Martel Lincoln Park near Fullerton offers visitors a conservatory, a zoo and a nature walk.

Lake: Lakeshore East Park (450 E. Benton Place)

This hidden gem of a park is about a 10-minute walk from the Lake stop. It can be slightly difficult to find so using GPS directions is recommended. 

Placed below street level, it can be hard to imagine how a four-acre park could exist in one of the busiest parts of the city right next to a flourishing shopping district, Navy Pier and the RiverWalk. However, once you find the stairs leading down to the park, it doesn’t disappoint.

Despite being only a block away from Millenium Park, this park couldn’t feel more different, so if you find yourself in need of some greenery and rest while downtown — feel free to visit this delightful park instead. Towering skyscrapers surround the park and act as a barrier to the noise and chaos of the city.

The park’s quiet atmosphere and prime location make it an amazing place for a picnic or nap after a fun downtown adventure. The steep grass hills bordering the right side of the park are a splendid spot to lay down and watch the passing clouds.

It’s also home to a popular dog park, which provides ample and adorable entertainment while relaxing on the park’s shady hills.

Lakeshore East Park leaves visitors feeling like they have been let in on a little secret, so if you want to join in on the fun, visit this park next time you’re downtown.

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