Our family travels quite a bit. To save money and to avoid the headache that sometimes accompanies dining crowded restaurants, we try to have a picnic lunch whenever we can: we stop at a local grocer and stock up on sandwiches, drinks, and snacks, spread out a blanket, and enjoy! Here are our favorite Chicago picnicking spots - all located near museums or zoos that you may be visiting.
If you're visiting the Museum of Science and Industry...
Osaka Garden in Jackson Park
This peaceful picnicking oasis is actually a picturesque Japanese garden located on a wooded island in the middle of a lagoon. You can’t find a park more Zen than the Osaka Garden. Part of the Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary in Jackson Park, the best place to park for the Osaka Garden is south of the Museum of Science and Industry (Columbia Drive lot – at Lake Shore Drive and Science Drive; 5800 South). If you are visiting the museum beforehand, pick up some Space Ice Cream (at the gift ship at the south end) for a tasty, drip-less dessert.
If you're visiting the Chicago History Museum or the Lincoln Park Zoo...
Green City Market
Located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1790 N. Clark), the Green City Market makes life easier on picnickers: you can gather all your yummy goods at the market, and spread out your blanket there on the spot. There is usually an impromptu musical act to boot. You’ll find the freshest organic fruits and veggies in the city and a variety of lunch items: the food vendors alternate so check the market’s website to see what’s on offer for the day. Open every Wednesday and Saturday, May – October, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Greencitymarket.org
If you're visiting the Art Institute...
The Pritzker Pavillion at Millennium Park is host to an almost-daily selection of concerts. And the lovely green lawn is large enough for you to find a comfy spot for the entire family. The lunchbox music series features live bands, DJs, or open rehearsals in a different genre of music each and every day. Bring a ball for the kids to kick around or a board game so you can enjoy the concert even if the kids get restless. For concert/events at the Pritzker Pavillion, visit Choose Chicago's events calendar.
Osaka Garden - the perfect place for a picnic in Chicago!