Grant Park, the expansive green esplanade that frames the Chicago skyline, is undeniably one of the crown jewels of the city. It is also one of the most frequented. This venerable anchor of the lakefront is often overrun with impetuous crowds, trying to get a selfie in front of the Bean. Recent additions such as a skate park and pop-up food stands add to the clamor. Fortunately, there are three South Loop parks within walking distance of Grant Park that provide contemplative privacy to read a book as well as plenty of manicured grass on which to picnic or practice yoga.
Daniel Webster Park
1357 South Indiana Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
Located on the Northeast corner of 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, this spot spent years as former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s neighborhood park. Enclosed by pricey townhomes and high-rises, vehicle noise is minimal as 14th street reaches a dead end just one block east of the park’s entrance. Park benches are available for reading and a tunnel-like arbor runs along one side of the park to create shade with beautiful climbing vines in the summer. Occasionally photographers shoot engagement or wedding photos in this space, but it is infrequent and never causes too much disruption.
Chicago Women’s Park and Garden
1801 South Indiana Avenue, Chicago, IL 60606
The most significant component of the Chicago Women’s Park and Garden is the site of Chicago’s oldest home, the Henry B. Clarke house. Built in 1836, this home is now the centerpiece of the park, with tours available a handful of times per week (capacity: 15 people). Two fruit and vegetable plots bookend the home from the North and South, serving as community gardens for Prairie Avenue residents as well as for local school children.
Another historically significant building, The Glessner Museum, abuts the southeast end of the park, and a small indoor/outdoor café provides casual food and drink for diners looking to sit and rest for a while. Patches of grass are divided by trees and a gravel walkway, making this South Loop park an ideal spot to lay down a towel and catch some sun or have a picnic.
1466 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
Located on the spot of a former entertainment arena, Coliseum Park is another hidden South Loop park. 14th Place, a one-block stretch of street between State Street and Wabash Avenue, limits street traffic. Additionally, an approximately three-foot tall fence keeps the park separate from passing foot traffic. Note: overhead “L” tracks may be a bit too loud for those who are noise sensitive. Few crowds and an available dog run may make this a good space for visitors looking to let their dogs off leash.
These are all great South Loop park alternatives to Grant Park. While they may not have the same square footage, they are all worth a visit for a quiet day at the park.