Where to Have a Family Picnic in Chicagoland


What’s better during a Chicago summer than dining al fresco? Grab a blanket, pack up your favorite snacks and sprawl out at one of these gorgeous Instagram-worthy picnic spots.


Note: Check each hot spot’s information in advance for limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic




Margaret Donahue Park


Where: 1230 W. School St., Chicago


This popular Lakeview park features a Chicago skyline-themed playground, expansive Cubs-emblazoned turf field, splash pad with all the bells and whistles, shaded picnic tables and grassy areas. Chicago Park District parks have reopened, but maintain social distance while at the park. Some playground areas and splash pads might not be open. Visit the Chicago Park District website before you go.


Adler Planetarium



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Where: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


It’s no surprise that the planetarium’s spectacular grounds constantly attract wedding parties as it’s considered one of the most magnificent city backdrops. You’ll find plenty of other picnic-goers watching the boats go by and taking in the view. The Planetarium is closed until Phase 5, but picnicing outside of the building offers a good time.


Ping Tom Memorial Park



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Where: 1700 S. Wentworth Ave., Chicago


Amidst Chinese design elements and a lovely view of the river, this 17-acre outdoor haven is a popular locale for concerts and movies. Plus, there are ample areas to picnic with friends and a playground for kids.


North/Northwest Suburbs


Ravinia Festival



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Where: 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park


Shake your groove thing with a dance party on the grass. Ravinia’s summer concerts for kids are the best place to picnic while listening to your favorite tunes. This season’s festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but fans can find ways to support America’s Oldest Music Festival on the Ravinia website.


Ned Brown Preserve



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Where: North Arlington Heights Road, Elk Grove Village


More commonly known as Busse Woods, this 3,558-acre offers so much land to explore for the perfect picnic spot. You might be lucky enough to see a few model airplanes flying around! Boating and lake centers are open select days and masks are required in indoor spaces.


Independence Grove



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Where: 16400 W. Buckley Road, Libertyville


The trip to Libertyville will be worth the drive once you see this spot’s breathtaking nature views. Set up your picnic near the Children’s Grove, an accessible playground where the kiddos can run around. Due to COVID-19, the playground is closed, as are the visitors center and beach bathrooms.


South Suburbs


Harvester Park



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Where: 15 W. 400 Harvester Drive, Burr Ridge


This multi-age playground has a large tree house and a mini ravine for sand play. Set up lunch at one of the picnic tables or on the grassy fields. Located right off I-55, it’s a convenient spot for friends venturing from the city or ‘burbs. Playgrounds are limited to 50 people at a time, and the water features and basketball courts at the park are closed.


Wampum Lake Woods


Where: 598 Thornton Lansing Road, Thornton


Now the newest Illinois nature preserve, this location has always been a popular fishing lake. Get your family hooked on fishing or simply take advantage of the four large groves available for picnicking. Some bathroom facilities may be closed or require masks to enter.


Centennial Park



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Where: 7800 W. 171st St., Tinley Park


The largest park in Tinley Park gives you many options for your next picnic outing. After eating, take a scenic walking path or check out the Extreme Skate Park. Verify building closures before you go and maintain social distancing while in the park.


Western Suburbs


The Morton Arboretum



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Where: 4100 IL. 53, Lisle


Yes, you have to pay for admission to get in, but we promise that a visit to The Morton Arboretum is always a great idea on a beautiful sunny day. The arboretum has plenty of space to find a picnic spot and while you’re there, make sure to explore the Children’s Garden for some fun interactive activities. During Phase 4, some buildings and experiences are closed, including the Children’s Garden.


Batavia Riverwalk



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Where: 100 N. Island Ave., Batavia


Located in downtown Batavia, take a stroll along a boardwalk leading to the North Point Pavilion with some great views of the Fox River. The Riverwalk is open for strolling, though patrons are encouraged to avoid congregating in groups.


Pottawatomie Park



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Where: 8 North Ave., St. Charles


Here’s another picnic spot located along the Fox River. Pottawatomie Park provides some great family-friendly fun including mini golf and a swimming pool. Note that some buildings and bathroom areas may be closed while reservations for putt-putt are recommended in advance.


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This story originally published June 6, 2019. It has been updated with the most recent information.


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