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6 Secret Gardens in Chicago That Are Altogether Magical

One of Chicago’s best-kept secrets is its official motto: urbs in horto. It translates to “city in a garden.” We know. You’re rolling your eyes. On days when you have to elbow your way onto the Red Line so you can stand packed like a sardine for 25 minutes, the city seems nothing like an urbs in horto. But maybe that’s because you haven’t discovered these secret gardens yet. So next time you need a breather, find one of these little known spots of greenery.

1

ALFRED CALDWELL LILY GARDEN

Even if you know Lincoln Park like the back of your hand, you may be unfamiliar with this tucked-away cove. The tranquil pond teems with lily pads…now if only you had a rowboat.

2

CANCER SURVIVORS PLAZA

The unmistakable wrought iron gazebo is the first thing you’ll notice about this quiet little spot at the far northeast corner of Grant Park. But the real eye candy is the allée of cherry trees that flank it—time your visit just right and you’ll catch them in full bloom.

3

OSAKA GARDEN

This South Side sanctuary dates all the way back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Today it’s home to an installation by none other than Yoko Ono and the next best thing to a vacation in Japan.

4

LAKE SHORE EAST PARK

It’s possible you’ve never heard of the Lake Shore East neighbourhood, let alone this sunken park that sits at the center of it. At the far end of Randolph, a complex of condos rise up around the lush space, filled with fountains and (yessss) a dog park.

5

RIVERBANK NEIGHBORS PARK

Just across the river sits the popular and sprawling Horner Park, but it’s this sleepy little sliver of public space that’s stolen our hearts. Whether you stroll the brief trail or grab a seat on the riverbank, you’ll be completely charmed.

6

CITY HALL

Most visits to City Hall mean long lines and lots of waiting. Unless you stop by this rooftop oasis, home to 20,000 plants representing 150 species. Yeah, we’ll go with option two.