Having a picnic is one of the best ways to spend time outdoors with your loved ones without spending a ton of money. Luckily, there are several gorgeous and uncrowded local areas where you can spread out a blanket and relax.
Whether you’re looking for an unusual date night or something fun to do with the kids, pack up your favorite food and drinks to enjoy in the fresh air and celebrate National Picnic Month at one of these stunning Chicagoland spots.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
This 17-acre park on the Chicago River in Chinatown offers an indoor pool, fitness center, and playgrounds as well as beautiful Asian-inspired landscape design elements and breathtaking skyline views.
Ping Tom Memorial Park was originally a railroad yard before the Chicago Park District acquired the property in the early 90s and transformed it into a multi-use green space. If you don’t feel like noshing on traditional picnic food, check out the magnificent local Chinese eateries and grab some delectable dim sum, plump dumplings, or decadent desserts.
Promontory Point at Burnham Park
Nestled in the lakefront Hyde Park neighborhood, Burnham Park is named after one of the designers of the 1893 World Exposition and embraces over 6 miles of dazzling Lake Michigan shoreline. Promontory Point juts out into the water and boasts Insta-ready panoramic views, outdoor BBQ pits, and a lush green meadow.
Northerly Island Park
A 119-acre urban nature sanctuary, this area was also planned by famous architect Daniel Burnham. It features waterfront views, a 5-acre pond with a plethora of wildlife, hiking trails, and plenty of out-of-the-way places where you can picnic while admiring the local landscape.
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889, this fairyland oasis is maintained by the Lincoln Park Conservancy and is listed on the National Historic Landmark Register. Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell envisioned the site as “a cool, refreshing, clear place of trees and stones and running water,” and there’s nothing quite like it in all of Chicagoland.
The park also hosts a monthly Wildflower Walk, beer tastings, volunteer opportunities, and special events, and the Lily Pool is also available to book for private gatherings and weddings.
Irene C. Hernandez Family Picnic Grove
This secluded and shaded location is part of LaBagh Woods, one of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Situated on the North Branch of the Chicago River, the wooded areas, natural wetlands, and savannas of this habitat host a wide variety of flora and fauna. There are several picnic pavilions with restrooms as well as open green meadows where the kids can run free and play.
One of Chicagoland’s favorite summer spots, Montrose Beach truly has something for everyone. Rent kayaks or jet skis before your picnic adventure, have a cold drink while chilling at The Dock, or take a stroll through the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. If you’re with your furry friends, check out Montrose Dog Beach and meet other pet parents for an afternoon of fun.
Humboldt Park is one of Chicago’s most diverse and exciting neighborhoods. Surrounded by culture, museums, and the city’s best Puerto Rican cuisine, this park boasts a historic lagoon and fieldhouse, as well as plenty of picnic areas, a cafe, and sports fields. Humboldt Park regularly hosts family-friendly events, like summer camps, Shakespeare in the Park, and movie nights.
The region was named for the famous German scientist and explorer, Baron Freidrich Heinrich Alexander Von Humboldt (1759-1859), at the request of the neighborhood’s residents. The Baron visited the United States only one time during his incredibly long life — and that trip didn’t include a stop in Chicago.
Tobey Prinz Beach Park
Once known as Pratt Beach, this delightful gem on the North Side was renamed in honor of a longtime member of the Chicago Teachers Union and a founding leader of the Rogers Park Community Council. Tobey Prinz also attended the March on Washington in 1963 and was a fierce advocate for civil rights, fair housing practices, and the preservation of Chicagoland’s unique urban beaches.
Adjacent to two of the best schools in the Lincoln Square/ Ravenswood area, this park features several locations where you can spread out under beautiful weeping willow trees, as well as a scenic prairie-style garden. It’s also very family-friendly, with loads of youth activities, summer camps, and an indoor pool.
For a spur-of-the-moment picnic, you can always get takeout from community favorites like a turkey and Brie sandwich from Café Selmarie or a tray of charcuterie snacks from Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen.
Not your usual picnic spot, this waterfront venue is considered to have one of the very best views of Chicago’s distinct skyline. The Adler is a popular filming location and also features a cafe and a shop. There’s lots of green space where you can sit, have a snack, and watch the world go by.
Also known as the Ned Brown Preserve, this ancient upland forest has a boating center, pristine meadows, fishing areas, almost 13 miles of trails, and several large picnic pavilions. With over three thousand acres to explore, you can make a whole day of it. If you decide you need to cool off, it’s only a short drive to the legendary Rainbow Falls Waterpark in Elk Grove Village.
Bring your favorite people for the full “Ravinia Experience” — listening to live music or enjoying movie nights outdoors while having a picnic. You can bring your own supplies, or you can rent chairs and buy food there. Ravinia’s lawn is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system so you don’t miss a note from the concerts on the Pavilion Stage or in the Martin Theater.
Unparalleled Neighborhood Knowledge
Chicagoland always has a lot to offer, but the summer months are the perfect time to get outdoors and do something different. There are so many charming and wonderful places nearby to get away from the grind and enjoy a peaceful picnic.
Since 1855, Baird & Warner has been dedicated to strengthening Chicago’s communities. Our local experts can help you find your dream home in exactly the right neighborhood for your needs. If you’re ready to take the next step, we’re here for you!