Summer in the Chicago, Illinois, area is the best time of year to have a picnic outdoors, and nothing beats taking the family or someone special for a picnic in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. While you can find a vast array of restaurants with outdoor dining in Lincoln Park, having a picnic on a lawn or under a shady tree makes the meal extra special.

You have several options for putting a picnic together. You can prepare food at home and fill your basket with goodies. Or, find a gourmet store in Lincoln Park and take those foods to your picnic location. The easiest way to enjoy a casual picnic is by stopping at any of the amazing restaurants in Lincoln Park or throughout Chicago. Most restaurants will pack your order to go. Simply pick up the food, head to your picnic location, and enjoy.

Our team at Crème de la Crème understands that finding the perfect picnic spot may feel overwhelming. That’s why we made this list of the six perfect picnic spots around Lincoln Park so you can relax and enjoy the afternoon.

Millennium Park

Image of Millennium Park in Chicago, IL
Image via Flickr by calamity_sal Licensed CC BY 2.0

Millenium Park features a beautiful lawn in front of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. When the Pavilion holds concerts or events, you can have a picnic on the Great Lawn at Millennium Park while enjoying the show. While the Great Lawn is closed when there are no events, you can use the auxiliary lawns located in Millenium Park to enjoy your picnic. Whether you have your picnic during a show or mid-week, you’ll appreciate the stunning views of the Pritzker Pavilion and the Chicago skyline.

Location: 201 E. Randolph St.

North Avenue Beach

Enjoy views of the water and the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago while having a picnic at Lincoln Park’s North Avenue Beach. One highlight of North Avenue Beach is the cool-looking multiuse beach house. This 22,000-square-foot building has the same design as a sleek ocean liner. Order to-go food from one of the local restaurants and take your picnic to the upper decks of the boathouse for the best views of Chicago. You can also eat your food on the beach and, after your picnic, take a walk along the shore and stick your toes in the refreshing water.

Location: 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Take a respite from the busy city and enjoy the peacefulness at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. This 3.14-acre natural area features a pool meant to resemble a river carved by a glacier. As you sit by this water feature, you’ll notice how the pool’s stonework and paths are reminiscent of limestone bluffs found in the Midwest, where designer Alfred Caldwell grew up. You and your family can settle on one of the shaded benches near the pool, eat your picnic, and watch the adorable baby swans and ducks floating around in the water.

Location: 2000 N. Racine Ave. #4800 at the Lincoln Park Conservancy

Lincoln Park Zoo

The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the United States. This park was established in 1868 and today is one of the oldest zoos in the country. As you take the self-guided tour of the zoo’s habitats, watch for whimsical penguins, big African animals, and odd, exotic critters. Take the little ones on the Little Explorer’s Tour where they can climb and play in the tree canopy, touch animals at the petting zoo, and ride the carousel.

You and your family will marvel at the gardens that hold over 1,200 species of plants scattered throughout the zoo. As you wander through the pools in the zoo, look for frogs, turtles, and colorful insects.

The Lincoln Park Zoo encourages families to bring a picnic and sit on a bench under a shady tree watching your favorite animals. If you want healthy food to take with you to the Lincoln Park Zoo, there are several healthy eateries in Chicago to order from. Before leaving the zoo, make sure and stop by the gift shop to pick up souvenirs and animal-themed gifts.

Location: 2001 N. Clark St.

Ping Tom Natural Area

Hop on the Chicago Water Taxi and take a ride down the Chicago River to enjoy a picnic at Ping Tom Natural Area. This 2.9-acre natural space has a native prairie and wetland ecosystem and sits next to Ping Tom Memorial Park. You’ll find several places to sit and enjoy your picnic with stunning views of the southern part of the Chicago skyline. You’ll want to bring your camera with you to take photos in front of the colorful murals and gazebo.

You can take a walk along the Chicago River, throw a Frisbee in the open spaces, or rent kayaks during the summer at Ping Tom Memorial Park. Let the youngsters burn off energy at the playground and then they can take a nap under a shady tree.

Location: 1700 S. Wentworth Ave.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is one of Chicago’s oldest parks and is a perfect spot to have a picnic and people-watch. The two main attractions of this 2.85-acre park near the Newberry Library are the peaceful gardens and beautiful fountain.

You’ll find plenty of shady places to lay down a blanket and enjoy your meal to the sounds of the babbling fountain. Stop by the Newberry Library before stopping at Washington Square Park to pick up a book to read after your picnic. Spend the afternoon relaxing in this hidden gem of a Chicago park reading your book and enjoying listening to birds singing from the trees.

Location: 901 N. Clark St.

Did you and your family enjoy having a picnic at these great spots around Lincoln Park? Which location do you like best and why? If you have a special place that you like to picnic at and would like to share it, we would love to know. Feel free to let us know and we’ll add your suggestion to our list.