Feeling cooped up? Craving the great outdoors? A trip into the country might not be practical right now—but let’s not forget that Chicago’s South Loop is peppered with some amazing green spaces and parks. Make a point of getting out of your apartment once in a while for some much needed outside activity.

Grant Park

This sprawling wonderland of flower-fringed lawns, public artworks, sports fields, and elegant fountains lies on the doorstep of NEMA Chicago—and has come to be known as "Chicago's front yard." Explore the 319 acres between the South Loop and Lake Michigan and rediscover the park’s many gems. Artworks are everywhere you look; admire the wedding cake-style Buckingham Fountain with its grand light and water displays and pay a visit to the Lincoln Monument. Take a jog along the Chicago Lakefront Trail. Find a patch of grass and play a socially distanced game of Frisbee with your friends. Then recline with a good book in the Spirit of Music Garden. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Millennium Park

You can also head into Millennium Park—a park within Grant Park—to get a reflection selfie in Anish Kapoor's iconic Cloud Gate sculpture before admiring the perennials in Lurie Garden. Now is the season for purple sensation alliums, Japanese anemones, orange butterfly weed, delicate wisps of calamint, and sea lavender: just the vibrant burst of color we all need at the moment. Other features of Millennium Park include the serpentine Frank Gehry-designed BP Pedestrian Bridge, as well as Wrigley Square and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion—both have lawns that are perfect for a spot of sunbathing.

Webster Park

For a homey, tranquil setting, make the four-minute stroll from your apartment to (Daniel) Webster Park. The greenery-ensconced trellises here create wonderful shade for the benches: what better place to catch up on the news headlines or your favorite podcast? The central lawn provides an oasis for picnics or perhaps an alfresco yoga session. Dogs are welcome too: perhaps your pooch will meet their new best friend while going for morning walkies.

Mark Twain Park

A few minutes further south of Webster Park is Mark Twain Park—yet another miniature oasis in the middle of the city. At this time of the year, its shaded lawns are ideal for workouts (or cheeky afternoon naps, if that's more your speed). The park is popular among locals with kids, thanks to its playground and sandbox. Furry friends are welcome to enjoy the space too; bring a ball and while away the afternoon playing fetch. As we settle in for a socially distanced summer, be sure to take some time for yourself, and enjoy the South Loop outdoor scene. There is so much to explore, just steps from your front door at NEMA Chicago.