Image by Winston Wolf Getty Images
This 207-acre park, which lends its name to the surrounding neighborhood, comes out of nowhere and gobsmacks you with Mother Nature. A lagoon brushed by native plants takes up much of the green space, and birdsong flickers in the air. The 1907 Prairie School boathouse is the park’s centerpiece, home to a cafe and free cultural events. The flowery Formal Garden, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, and Chicago's only inland beach are other highlights.
The park was built in 1869 and named for German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Landscape architect Jens Jensen gave it its 'prairie style' design, using native plants and stone, in the early 1900s. The park has gone through some rough times since then, and has only come into its own again in the past decade. While it’s family-filled by day, it’s still pretty rough and best avoided at night (unless there's a free outdoor movie or music event happening).
Street vendors and food trucks sell fried plantains, meat dumplings and other Puerto Rican specialties around the park's edges. Many congregate on Kedzie Ave at North Ave and at Hirsch St – sniff them out for a picnic.
For more in-depth explorations, including the park's wee waterfall, wind turbine and picnic island, download the free audio tour at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/audio-tours/humboldt-park.