Caught in the whirlwind of the first month of classes, students often forget to savor the last few weeks of gorgeous Chicago weather.
Whether it’s an outing with friends or a break between classes, these spots around Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus are perfect for rolling out a blanket, sneaking in a quick snack and relaxing in the last few rays of sunshine.
A Bee-utiful View: Between Madonna Della Strada and Coffey Hall
The East Quad may offer panoramic views of the heart of campus, but its heavy foot traffic between classes can be a real distraction for those looking to relax. Without sacrificing peace and quiet, the true scenery is found nestled between Madonna Della Strada Chapel and Coffey Hall.
Before heading over, hit a local fast food joint for cheap picnicking bites. For the more refined tastes, order takeout from YaTai on North Broadway for affordable and delicious Asian street food.
Not feeling hungry? Drop in on a local coffee shop for a sip of the changing seasons and have your very own tea party with a gorgeous lake backdrop.
The lawn is neatly tucked between some of Loyola’s finest architecture and landscaping, so grab those snacks and situate anywhere. When it comes to a get-together with friends, you can’t go wrong on this pristine stretch of grass.
For those looking for a break from the noise of city life, settling near the lavender bushes is the way to go. Listen closely and hear the sounds of honey bees buzzing.
Hidden Gem: Crescent Lawn outside Piper Hall
Just a few yards away from Mundelein Center rests the nicest, most secluded nook on campus. Tucked between Sullivan Center and Piper Hall, this pocket of lawn is the unrivaled spot to decompress between classes.
Despite resting next to bustling North Sheridan Road, the surrounding trees and bushes shelter visitors from any overwhelming noise. The lawn’s encompassing greenery hosts an array of local wildlife. Enjoy the fluttering of birds or stop by later in the day to spot a frolicking rabbit or two.
Besides a rare venerator of the nearby statue of Jesus, passersby are scarce. The soothing environment makes for an ideal space to stretch out on a blanket and nap.
Although it has all the makings of an introvert oasis, the Crescent Lawn is an idyllic backdrop for a small gathering.
Groups of friends can gather and use their picnicking time to take in the mysteries of stately Piper Hall. They may be left asking themselves, ‘Why is there a house on campus? Why is there a strange marble throne on the porch? What goes on in there? Fancy luncheons? Cult meetings?’
These are all questions easily solved by reading the historic plaque outside the building — but it’s a lot more fun to gather with friends and invent answers.
Beachy Getaway: Loyola Park Natural Area
This essential beach-picnic spot sits just a few blocks north of campus. Straight up North Sheridan Road and east down West Pratt Boulevard is the entrance to Loyola Park’s Natural Area, home to a small (but adorable) stretch of dunes.
The picnicking spot can be found past the short trail cutting through the dunes. While trekking through, revel in the beautiful beachy setting and and spy the iconic Chicago skyline to the south. After breaking from the picturesque path lined with tall grass, the trail opens up to the shoreline.
Hot tip: rather than soil a nice cloth number, invest in a waterproof-backed picnic blanket to avoid sandy messes and wick away any sticky sand in a simple shake. Bargain hunters can likely find one for a few bucks at Goodwill or Salvation Army.
For the best experience, stop by a restaurant on the walk up North Sheridan Road and enjoy a meal on Loyola Beach. Just be wary of seagulls and, of course, don’t litter.
For Dog-Lovers: Edgewater Dog Park
This final stop is worth the walk. Just a 15-minute trek past the towering high-rises along North Sheridan Road lies scenic Kathy Osterman Beach. Visitors can enjoy the park’s stretches of walking and biking paths or, better yet, set a blanket down across from Edgewater Dog Park.
For those who prefer the train over a small hike, taking the Red Line to the Granville or Thorndale station will bring any beach-goer closer to Osterman Beach. As an added bonus, several perfect picnic dining options are located outside of each station.
Across from Granville, Flaco’s Tacos offers savory Mexican take-out and Pete’s Pizza provides strawberry shakes practically invented for sunny afternoons. Thorndale offers its own slices at Rewired Pizza, making the park a convenient spot to nap off the carbs.
Picnickers can maximize their serotonin intake by soaking up the sun while local dogs play right across the path. They might even get lucky and be greeted by a four-legged friend eager for scratches or a bite of picnic snacks.
The spot still has plenty to offer for those that don’t identify as dog people. Birdwatcher? People-watcher? Surrounded by trees, paths and shoreline on every side, this spacious lawn has something for everyone.