If you and your pup are looking to escape the gray concrete of urban Chicago to some place a little more green, but don't have the time—or the green—to travel far, put Humboldt Park on your radar. This 219-acre park on Chicago's West Side has over five miles of trails and walking paths, many of which are paved and wheelchair accessible. It's easy to forget you're in the city here.
Thoughtfully landscaped, Humboldt Park features everything from circular rose gardens to a lagoon and "prairie river." Originally developed in 1871, Humboldt Park opened to the public in 1877, but was refined between 1905 and 1920 by Prairie School landscape architect and Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator Jens Jensen. The Danish-born designer added gardens, connected the lagoons with a man-made river, and designed several of the park's distinctive buildings.
Humboldt Park's scenery recalls many bygone eras. Its manicured gardens are reminiscent of the Victorian period and the restored prairie landscapes evoke the wilderness that was here before Chicago was built. If you don't have an entire day to spend wandering around and taking it all in with your trusty pup by your side, you can just take a focused half-mile walk around the lagoon from the ample parking lot on North Humboldt Drive. In the water, you'll spot arrowroot, cattails, and water lilies, while the shore is bursting with native grasses and wildflowers including wild rye and purple and white asters.
Just on this short walk, you'll pass through aquatic, wetland, riparian, and prairie ecosystems. The lagoon was designed to blur the boundary between water and land and to allow you to explore the shore. It's a perfect spot for curious canines to nose up to the lagoon and take in a wide range of scents. Just be sure you've got a tight grip on the leash—neither dogs nor humans are allowed to take a dip here. You'll also need to bring your own waste bags and water.
If you've got a little more time, extend your walk to the formal gardens. Along the way, you'll pass through wide open lawns where your pup will have a vast expanse of grass to sniff. Mature trees provide shady spots to rest along the way. While you're getting in your steps and your dog's daily round of exercise, remember to stop and smell the flowers. There's so many of them here, and so much natural beauty to restore your soul.