You thrive on hustling, bustling summer in Chicago. But sometimes you need a break from the block parties/free concerts/art shows/packed sidewalks.

Guess what? There are places to breathe and relax and just be, right around the corner. Escape to these ten quiet urban hideaways (but shhh--keep the volume down).

Serene 1

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Find a seat in the low, prairie-style building that overlooks the water in this hidden garden (and National Historic Landmark). It’s a great place to duck out of the summertime madness of Lincoln Park.

125 W. Fullerton Pkwy.; 312-742-7816 or lincolnparkconservancy.org

Serene 2

Ping Tom Memorial Park

In the Loop, the walkways along the Chicago River are action-packed. But there’s a quiet patch along the South Branch in Chinatown--it’s a far more tranquil place to enjoy the city’s manmade waterway from either the shore or a kayak.

1700 S. Wentworth Ave.; 312-225-3121 or chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks

Serene 3

Northerly Island

Remember when Mayor Daley made a ruckus tearing up that runway? It?s been pretty quiet since then on this 91-acre peninsula that now feels like a slice of untouched prairie.

1521 S. Linn White Dr.; 312-745-2910 or chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks

Serene 4

Garfield Park Conservatory

Most visitors come for the showstopping greenhouses, but head out back to bypass the crowds for a peaceful stroll around the pond in the City Garden.


300 N. Central Park Ave.; 312-746-5092 or garfieldconservatory.org

Serene 5

Lakeshore East Park

While families swarm the spectacular playground equipment at Maggie Daley Park on the other side of Randolph Street, this sunken green space amid the towers of the Lakeshore East development remains relatively serene.

450 E. Benton Pl.; 312-742-7529 or chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks

Serene 6

Milton Lee Olive Park

This lakefront sliver is an unlikely but blissfully under-populated oasis with a beautiful view of the city skyline. It’s adjacent to a water-filtration plant and wedged between the nonstop activity of Navy Pier on one side and Ohio Street Beach on the other.

500 N. Lake Shore Dr.; tclf.org

Serene 7

Lurie Garden

Five million people visit Millennium Park every year. But when you get away from the Bean, the paths, hidden corners and mini corridors tucked into this five-acre expanse of vegetation offer rare moments of calm.

Monroe St. at Columbus Ave.; 312-781-9970 or luriegarden.org

Serene 8

Art Institute of Chicago, South Garden

Lunching Loop workers know that this tucked-away pocket of picnic-ready low concrete planters and trees offers just enough of a respite on the busiest summer days.

111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-443-3600 or artic.edu

Serene 9

Jackson Park Japanese Garden

Not in a museum kind of mood? Just north of the Museum of Science and Industry, the real discovery in Jackson Park is this Frederick Law Olmsted-designed collection of lagoons, waterfalls, gardens and meandering paths on Wooded Island.

6401 S. Stony Island; chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks

Serene 10

Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens

The adjacent Clarke House is worth a visit for a glimpse into Chicago’s past circa 1836, and the surrounding two-acre oasis of flowers, grasses and fountains outside is the best way to relax in the present-day South Loop.

1801 S. Indiana Ave.; 312-328-0821 or chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks

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