by: Leslie Izaguirre, from Team Khepri
Returning to the Albany Park neighborhood to visit the surrounding city parks is always such a delightful treat. I am able to revisit the moments when I would run freely onto the playground while smiling and bursting with joy because playing at the park was the most fun activity for me. Growing up, I loved swinging on the monkey bars, twirling in sand boxes, climbing trees, dancing in the spray pools and frolicking around the short and tall grasses in search for wildlife I hadn’t seen during the winter season. These parks welcomed me to express all of myself and they were my favorite places to unleash the wild-child inside.
If you currently live in Chicago or If you plan to visit north Chicagoland, these city parks may motivate you to explore more of what the Albany Park area has to offer. I have chosen these three parks because they are continuously evolving - developing proficient programs, reconstructing landscapes, boasting incredible views while expanding hiking, biking and walking trails. Be prepared to reignite your inner child and bring your own; I am sure will any visitor will fall in love with these parks as much as I did growing up!
Eugene Field Park
I have spent a considerable amount of time exploring the parks on this list but the one that makes me feel at home is Eugene Field Park. Eugene Field is a beautiful park stretching wide amongst 18.94 acres of land. This park features two outdoor baseball fields, a basketball court, four tennis courts, a playground and a spray (sprinkler) pool.
Walking along the path from the playground area to the field, visitors will see a 45-foot by 10-foot exterior clay and ceramic tile mosaic art piece created on the exterior of the field house which shows images from poems written by the children’s poet ‘Eugene Field’, such as “Wynken, Blyken and Nod” and “The Bellflower Tree.”
Across from the field house is a bridge where the Chicago river flows through and into Eugene Field where the natural wildlife reserve lives. Here, visitors may spot river turtles, squirrels, snapping turtles, chipmunks, ducks, geese, cranes, a variety of native insects and other wildlife. Just outside of Eugene Field, there is a walkway which leads from the field house to another bridge which boasts more magical views for visitors to partake in. Both the sunset and sunrise are a pleasure to watch from the large open field.
Eugene Park serves the multicultural Albany park community by providing a variety of athletic, cultural, art and nature programs to youth and adults alike. Particularly a variety of art classes like oil painting for adults to world art, theatre, mixed media and printmaking for the youth. Lastly there are other fun summertime activities like theater in the park, movies in the park, self portrait painting and night out in the park.
The outdoor field park area is open from 6:00am until 11:00pm everyday.
The field house which has public bathrooms, water fountain and comfortable seating is open every weekday from 9:00am until 9:00pm, on Saturday from 9:00am until 5:00pm and is closed on Sundays.
Eugene Field Park is located at 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave. Chicago, IL 60625.
River Park is another diamond in the rough which features 28.81 acres of breath-taking wildlife habitats, excellent fishing and a canoe launch. River Park also has spacious tree-lined walkways with leaves cascading from above, an outdoor swimming pool, a track surrounding a huge soccer field, seven tennis courts, two baseball fields, a soft-surface playground, and water playground open to the public during the summer season.
The canoe launch is a great attraction for visitors to explore the area while gently coasting along the Chicago River. As mentioned, the parks pathways are spacious and wide, allowing for biking, running and even horseback riding. There are many shaded as well as full-sun areas to bask in and view wildlife like otters, deer, geese, squirrels, storks and rabbits.
River Park caters to it’s community by offering a well reviewed after-school kids program, basketball classes, summer day camp and a variety of swimming classes throughout the week. During the summer season, this park hosts other fun activities like theater in the park, movies in the park, night out in the park and more.
The outdoor park area is open from 6:00am until 11:00pm everyday. The field house which has public bathrooms, water fountain and comfortable seating is open every weekday from 9:00am until 9:00pm, on Saturday from 9:00am until 5:00pm and is closed on Sundays.
River Park is located at 5100 N. Francisco Ave. Chicago, IL 60625.
Gompers Samuel Park
Gompers Park is the grandest of the three on this list covering 42.17 acres of lush green land. There is much to fall in love with while visiting this park. I love Gompers Park because of how vast the open fields are, yet how private and ‘in your own world’ the park can make visitors feel. Visiting Gompers is like a sweet escape because of the landscape which features a miniature waterfall and rehabilitated lagoon, surrounded by flowering plants, willow trees and native bird species.
When visitors walk further into the park and away from the busy streets, there will be perfect areas of solitude to read a book, meditate, practice yoga or simply be. There is also an abundance of outdoor seating, benches and camping areas to enjoy. Visitors may hang hammocks, host birthday parties, enjoy a bonfire, and even have a cookout if desired.
Gompers Park has continuously captured the eyes of visitors and locals of the Albany Park area with installments like a gated outdoor pool, playground, three junior baseball fields, one football field, one basketball court, five tennis courts, a roller hockey-skating area, and a spray pool. Inside of the field house, visitors will encounter a few activity rooms, a gymnasium, and a staged auditorium.
Gompers Park's programs include arts and crafts, dance classes, preschool activities and swimming classes including junior life-guard training. A few highly sought after athletic programs include basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, gymnastics and soccer.
The outdoor field park area is open from 6:00am until 11:00pm everyday. The field house which has public bathrooms, water fountain and comfortable seating is open every weekday from 9:00am until 9:00pm, on Saturday from 9:00am until 5:00pm and is closed on Sundays.
Gompers Park is located at 4222 W. Foster Ave. Chicago, IL 60630.
More to come
The Albany Park Area is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in North Chicagoland and it is also one of the most diverse in culture within the United States. I feel honored to be apart of an authentic community of growth, change and the pursuit to evolve.
Each one of these parks are a little slice of heaven that the Albany Park neighborhood has to offer for everyone to enjoy.
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