Chicago’s Newest Park Brings the Cool Factor [Slideshow]

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People crossing a bridge at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
The Park Is Free

We can’t stress this enough: Maggie Daley Park is a free-admission Chicago attraction. Amenities like picnic groves, tennis courts, the cancer survivors’ garden—a beautiful, hidden treasure in the city—and kids’ play garden are all available for free.  

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Climbing wall at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Climbing Wall

The park’s 40-foot-high climbing wall—with 19,000 square feet of climbing space— is open from April to October and offers options for mountaineers of all skill levels, including bouldering and belaying.  Afraid of heights? Certified instructors are available to help visitors complete their climbing certification—one-time fee of $29—or for private lessons. Heads up for brave teens: Climbers under 18 need a waiver from a parent or guardian. 

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Mini-golf course at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Mini-Golf Course

The 18-hole mini-golf course pays homage to the city with cute versions of local landmarks like a six-foot Willis Tower and a replica of Picasso’s famous untitled sculpture. General admission, $11. 

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Play garden at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Play Garden

The park is best known for this three-acre wonderland that is designed to ignite the imagination with colorful structures and wacky architecture. Kids can play pirates on a giant metal ship or explore an enchanted forest of upside down trees—there’s a tea party table hidden in there—while parents mingle.

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Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Skating Ribbon

During warm months, this quarter-mile track twists and turns to offer roller bladers an interesting workout over inclines and declines in a twisty track. During the winter, it transforms into a fabulous ice rink and popular proposal spot. Roller blade rental, $12; scooter rental, $8; ice skate rental, $12 M-Th, $14 F-Su.

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Cancer survivors garden at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Cancer Survivors' Garden

Take in views of Lake Shore Drive, Lake Michigan, the Field Museum and Chicago’s skyline in this quiet garden tucked away in the park. In addition to quiet meditation, this spaces serves for bespoke event rentals.

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Yoga at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Events at Maggie Daley Park

From an Easter egg hunt to marathons and fundraisers, mini-golf, Yoga in the Park events, monthly climbing nights and more the park hosts community events throughout the year that are a destination unto themselves.

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Santa skating with a little girl
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
District Programs at Maggie Daley Park

The park hosts Chicago summer camps for kids, tennis programs for all ages, family-focused holiday programs—think daddy-daughter dances for Valentine’s Day and “Skate With Santa” nights in the winter—fitness programs for adults and even fashion shows and other arts events. Admission prices vary.

By WhereTraveler Staff on 06/16/2017

Chicago summers are some of the best in the country while its winters are harsh, but there’s a hotspot geared for all seasons just east of Millennium Park. 

The 22-acre, sprawling Maggie Daley Park—named for the city’s former first lady and philanthropist—offers an outdoor adventure land year-round with multifunctional attractions that work bathed in sunlight or blanketed in snow.

This free-admission downtown oasis is the perfect outing for families, groups of friends or a solo adventure. Here, we spotlight some of the park’s best features.