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Best Parks In Chicago For A Winter Nature Walk

If you're pulling on the mukluks, Under Armor, wool socks and earmuffs just to get to work every day, you can certainly go through the motions on the weekend for a winter wander. Chicago has always had a deep commitment to green space, and the seasonal chill shouldn't dissuade you from enjoying its particular serenity in the winter. By all means, explore the city's north side behemoth, Lincoln Park, but your boots were made for walking in others neighborhoods, too.
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Burnham Park
5491 S. Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60615

Just south of Grant Park, Burnham Park boasts 600 acres of beaches, a bird sanctuary and skate park and, in terms of winter, plenty of peaceful places to walk. Its jewel may be a spectacular chunk of land called Promontory Point, a man-made peninsula that is perhaps the best spot to view modern wonders (Chicago's skyline) and those that nature carved, like Lake Michigan and the shoreline. Designed in the Prairie Style by Alfred Caldwell, a well-known landscape architect who also created the lovely lily pool in Lincoln Park, the point is accessed by way of the Lakefront Trail that passes under Lake Shore Drive through a pedestrian tunnel. 

Jackson Park
6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 256-0903

Picturesque Jackson Park, site for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, was intended to serve as an escape from the daily urban struggle. If New York City's Central Park appeals to you, you'll be similarly attracted to Jackson Park since it was designed by the same men — Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Among the park's 500 acres, don't miss the renovated Wooded Island and the Japanese Osaka Garden, which should be identifiable even in winter. If that "Devil in the White City" film ever hits the screen, tons of tourists will discover Jackson Park before you do.

Park District
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North Park Nature Center, Path And Trail
5801 N. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60646
312) 744-5472

A hidden oasis in the Peterson Park neighborhood, the forest preserve offers a birding area, paths and trails that snake through grassland, savanna, woods, prairie and wetlands — although in winter, you're pretty much guaranteed to see snow covering all. Nonetheless, the destination in the middle of the northwest side will gift you with serenity and quiet on a winter hike, and the Nature Center is not only a place to warm up but has educational displays about wildlife and flora. The 155-acre campus is open seven days a week except for Thanksgiving, Christmas day and New Year's day.

Related:  Best Outdoor Gear Stores In Chicago

Palmisano Park
Stearns Quarry
2700 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 747-6497

You'll certainly miss the native Illinois prairie grasses and flowers in the winter, but Stearns Quarry Park, aka Mount Bridgeport, has hills, an anathema in our long flat state. Nearly two miles of walking paths winding through the rolling areas offer a little more bang for your hamstrings and the payoff is a scenic view of the city when you reach the top of the highest hill. The park is crowded in the summer with humans and insects, but the colder weather eliminates the bugs and thins out the throngs of people. Reward your winter wander with a nice hot meal in one of Bridgeport's ethnic restaurants.

Humboldt Park
1400 N. Sacramento Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 742-7549

A gorgeous park dotted with monuments (including namesake Alexander Von Humboldt, who was a Prussian explorer and naturalist), a birding area, cafe, lagoon, various gyms, beautiful boathouse, a cultural center and hiking paths. Read up about some of the extraordinary features that the famed landscape architect Jens Jensen created and placed in Humboldt Park and plot your path accordingly.

Related: Best Running And Hiking Trails In The Suburbs

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at
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