Japanese bridge at Osaka Garden in Jackson Park. The Museum of Science and Industry is in the background.

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Jackson Park


This 550-acre, lakefront green space is a gem. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned creator of New York City's Central Park, it comprises bird-rich lagoons, busy boat harbors, sweet-smelling meadows, the Garden of the Phoenix, 63rd Street Beach and a golf course. Historically, it's where the city held the 1893 World’s Expo, when Chicago introduced the world to wonders such as the Ferris wheel, moving pictures and the zipper.

The Museum of Science & Industry sits in the park's northern reach. The new Barack Obama Presidential Center complex is set to open on the park's western edge between 60th and 63rd Sts sometime after 2021.

If you're looking for a nice walk, Jackson Park connects to Washington Park via a mile-long boulevard called the Midway Plaisance. The Plaisance itself is basically a park, home to an ice rink and college students kicking around soccer balls in the grassy expanse.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Chicago attractions

1. Garden of the Phoenix

0.52 MILES

The enchanted Garden of the Phoenix floats in Jackson Park. Birds flit through the sunlight, turtles swim in the lagoons, and stone-cut lanterns dot the…

2. Stony Island Arts Bank

0.53 MILES

Artist-activist Theaster Gates bought a tumbledown bank building for $1 in Chicago's neglected South Shore neighborhood, and transformed it into a…

3. Museum of Science & Industry

0.79 MILES

The MSI is the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere and a place to completely geek out. Highlights include a WWII German U-boat nestled in an…

4. Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

0.87 MILES

The building's exterior will send sculpture lovers into paroxysms of joy – the facade bears 24 life-size religious figures and 53 smaller ones, with even…

5. Robie House


Of the numerous buildings that Frank Lloyd Wright designed around Chicago, none is more famous or influential than Robie House. Because its horizontal…

6. Oriental Institute

0.94 MILES

The University of Chicago's famed archaeologists – Indiana Jones supposedly was based on one – cram their headquarters with antiquities they've unearthed…

7. William Rainey Harper Memorial Library

0.94 MILES

Once inside the building, head to the East Tower's 3rd floor, where the reading room (called the Cathey Learning Center) offers a terrific chill-out spot…

8. Bond Chapel


Built in 1926, the exquisite 150-seat chapel is worth a peek for its harmonious use of architecture, sculpture, woodcarvings and stained glass.