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A Nature Lover's Guide to Lincoln Park

Visit new wetlands and meet butterflies in Chicago's Lincoln Park
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  Lincoln Park is the neighborhood surrounding the northernmost stretch of a parcel of public land, also called Lincoln Park, that is... more »

Tips:  Parking is difficult in this crowded city neighborhood, but the area is readily accessible by cab or public transit. Cab fare from... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Fullerton Red Line stop

The Fullerton Station of the Red Line was rebuilt from 2006-2009 and opened fully modernized in 2009. Looking east from the platform, along Fullerton Avenue, is a beautiful tree-lined street with lovely vintage homes. Downstairs at the eastbound bus stop, to your right, you'll see the new Depaul University Art Museum. To your left is coffee—a... More

2. Historical Markers—Chicago City Cemetery

Leave the #11 Lincoln bus at Wisconsin and Clark. Cross the street and follow the path. Halfway toward Stockton Drive, leave the path and look to your right in the forested area for a historical marker that reads "Hidden Truths." These markers refer to Lincoln Park's early history as a cemetery.

Lincoln Park was ceded by the U.S. Congress to... More

3. The Nature Boardwalk

From the Hidden Truths marker walk south—maybe 50 feet—to the next footpath, then head east and cross Stockton Drive. The dipping flowered land in front of you leads to the Nature Boardwalk and the entrance is just to your right.

Experience Chicago the way it was 100 years ago—minus the poison ivy!

This urban ecosystem is technically part of... More

4. The Farm in the Zoo

The entrance to the Farm in the Zoo is just north of the entrance to the Nature Boardwalk and you can view the farm when you are on the Nature Boardwalk.

Bring your kids to learn a bit about farm life. Animals include cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, ponies and goats.
April–May and September-October
... More

As you head along the boardwalk, you’ll see an impressive, decorative brick structure ahead. That’s the historic Café Brauer.

The Cafe Brauer Patio is a great place to relax away the day. Grab a snack here or a full lunch. It's open for brunch now on the weekends. It's a bit pricey, but you can view the menu on the website and decide for yourself... More

The Nature Boardwalk leads naturally north onto the grounds of the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the last free zoos in the country.

Lincoln Park Zoo was established in 1868 with the donation of a pair of mute swans from Central Park New York, and the zoo has evolved beautifully since then. The zoo says it houses 1,200 animals representing 230 species... More

7. The Formal Garden and the Gandmother's Garden

This has to be one of the most beautiful places to lounge and play in Chicago. The Formal Gardens are impressive and welcoming. You'll see groups of people doing yoga and thai chi here at various times of the day. The plants in the garden are changed in the spring and the summer. In the spring, locals know just the right day to show up and collect... More


The Lincoln Park Conservatory is 1.3 acres of lush vegetation, tropical trees and flowers, all indoors. It’s a special treat in the winter for Chicagoans looking for a place to shake the cold of Chicago’s icy winds.

Built in 1995, the conservatory is a glass and iron jewel of a structure built by Victorian-era architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. It ... More

Head west as you leave the conservatory and formal garden, turn right on Fullerton, go a few hundred feet and you’ll see the entrance to a recently refurbished landmark: the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Caldwell, a famous Prairie-style landscape architect, can be credited with this restful place. Caldwell, who lived to be 95, was a student and an ... More


The Nature Museum is home to the best attraction in Lincoln Park: the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven.

Stand in the sunny 2,700-square-foot greenhouse and welcome tiny gentle visitors as they alight on your arms. The butterflies are well fed and lively in a beautiful environment of water, flowers and tropical trees. You can even arrange to spend... More

Walk south from the Nature Museum to Fullerton and head west. Follow the trails along the North Pond. Look for turtles, fish, frogs and hawks and other birds along the water's edge as you head north. At the northernmost tip of North Pond is the North Pond Restaurant.

Look for shutterbugs going wild in this dramatic setting, one of the most... More