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The best Chicago parks for spring walks

It’s time to pack up those winter boots and don your walking shoes. This spring, take a stroll in one of the area’s lesser-known parks. If it’s your first visit, we guarantee it won’t be your last.

With the exception of Cantigny’s parking fees, visiting the parks is free; check websites for directions and hours.

Put away the winter boots and get out your walking shoes. It’s time to step into spring at one of our favorite parks.

Lilacia Park in Lombard is a gem. Originallythe garden of Civil War Colonel William R. Plum, it was bequeathedto the village in 1927 and landscaped by Jens Jensen in 1929. Thepark is home to hundreds of lilac trees, as well as tulips andother plants. Known as the Lilac Village, Lombard hosts the LilacFestival each May with a lilac parade, floats and marching units,and a lilac queen. While the park is especially lovely when thelilacs are in bloom, it’s worth visiting any time of theyear.

Lilacia Park


Cantigny Park in Wheaton is a 500-acre parkgifted to the people of Illinois by Robert R. McCormick. Begun asan experimental farm in the early 1930s, the focus switched fromagriculture to horticulture in the 1950s. The park features largeformal gardens, as well as picnic areas, a golf course, campgroundsand two museums: the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the CantignyFirst Division Museum. Make the Visitors Center your first stop formaps.

Cantigny Park


Alfred Caldwell Lily Poolin Chicago’s Lincoln Park is anofficially designated National Historic Landmark. It was designedby architect Alfred Caldwell in the prairie style, inspired by thework of Frank Lloyd Wright and Caldwell’s mentor, Jens Jensen. It’sa wonderful place to see native plants such as oak, hackberry,hawthorn and wildflowers or to watch birds, with more than 200different species recorded by a local Audubon group.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool


Osaka Garden in Chicago’s Jackson Park neighborhood is a smallbut exquisite garden tucked away near the Museum of Science andIndustry’s lakeside parking area. Originally created as part of theChicago World’s Fair Columbian Exposition in 1893, it iswonderfully green and quiet, with a small bubbling waterfall andcrushed rock paths. Sitting on a blanket near the lagoon in thispeaceful sanctuary, it’s easy to forget that the bustle of a bigcity lies just outside the garden gate.

Osaka Garden


The Baha’i Temple Gardens in Wilmette surround the Baha’iTemple, built between 1920 and 1953. The building is nine-sided(symbolizing completeness) and is surrounded by nine gardens andfountains. There are rows of Chinese juniper trees and two dozenvarieties of flowers, including 20,000 tulips blossoming from bulbsthat are planted each fall.

The Baha’i Temple Gardens


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