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Where to Picnic in Chicago

Chicago winters may be brutal, but summertime in Chicago means sunshine and blue skies. Thanks to the abundance of greenspace the city has to offer, the best place to spend summer in Chicago is outside, and a great way to connect with the outdoors is by picnicking. Here are a few of the best spots to gather with friends and family for a lovely summertime picnic in the city.

Promontory Point

Located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Promontory Point is a manmade peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, providing beautiful 360 degree views of Chicago’s skyline. The Point (as it is familiarly known) is a popular spot for swimming in the summer and is always crowded with University of Chicago students, sunbathers, and local families. At the center, a grassy field is perfect for laying out a picnic blanket, while the Point’s iconic limestone steps lead to the lake and are perfect for sitting and watching the skyline. 

Ping Tom Memorial Park

Ping Tom Memorial Park is located along the Chicago River, just south of downtown in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. Ping Tom Park offers a shaded pavilion along the water with benches and tables for those seeking relief from the heat and walkways along the river, also lined with tables. For those wanting to sit on the grass, the park has plenty of green space, and picnickers can bring their own fare or pick up something to go from China Town’s numerous restaurants and vendors. 

Grandmother’s Garden, Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park stretches 1,188 acres across Chicago’s near north side and offers playgrounds, a conservatory, gardens, nature preserves, and views of Chicago’s downtown. Located just west of the zoo, Grandmother’s Garden is fashioned after an English garden and provides an open green space surrounded by an abundance of flowers, trees, and bushes. It’s one of the most beautifully maintained stretches of Lincoln Park, though parking can be tricky.

Humboldt Park Cultural Center

Humboldt Park is another of Chicago’s vast green spaces. With an abundance of grassy lawns, you really can’t go wrong with choosing a picnic spot in the park, and the Humboldt Park Cultural Center offers lovely views of the Lagoon and a cafe. It is centrally located in the park, so it’s possible to take a stroll around the Lagoon post-meal.

Montrose Harbor

Montrose Harbor is a quintessential Chicago lakefront picnic spot. Grills are available in the grassy areas, and The Dock, a seasonal cafe is also available to pick up snacks. Watch the boats, the cars, the people, and the bikes go by. Montrose Harbor is the perfect spot to view the Lake and city life.