As the weather warms and summer inches closer, many Chicagoans will be planning gatherings, staycations or just afternoon escapes. One place to check out is Promontory Point, which the city recently awarded landmark status. The historic park features picturesque views of the skyline, sandy beaches and trails for walking or biking — plus, the surrounding neighborhood offers plenty of dining and shopping.
Promontory Point was designed by Alfred Caldwell as a part of The Burnham Plan, an effort to expand the city’s parks and green spaces, according to the Chicago Park District. Nestled between 54th and 56th streets along the lakefront, the park officially opened in 1937. It was given landmark status last month, ensuring the limestone revetments and promenade will be preserved.
Aside from the nature areas, walking trails and lush landscape, a day at Promontory Point can also include exploring the nearby museums, restaurants and small businesses in Hyde Park. Here’s WBEZ’s guide to turning a walk in the park into a full day of adventure.
Explore the lakefront trail on foot, rollerblade or bicycle
The park features a trail that winds and twists along the shoreline. Access the Lakefront Trail at the east end of 55th Street via a tunnel that passes beneath DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The entire trail spans more than 10 miles, and passes a series of man-made inlands.
Seek out hidden public art
The David Wallach Memorial Fountain was installed in 1939 after Wallach, a South Side resident, gave $5,000 to commission a polished marble fountain complete with drinking fountains and a pool for dogs (and birds). Meanwhile, a mural at the 57th Street underpass was installed in 2010 by artist Mirtes Zwierzynski.
Visit the nearby Museum of Science and Industry — or just stroll its lush gardens
The Museum of Science and Industry, which opened in 1933 as an art gallery for the Columbian Exposition and today features exhibits like the history of Pompeii, is just half a mile from Promontory Point. Members get free access to the museum and tickets for non-members start at $15 for kids and $25 for adults. There are also dozens of free days throughout the year. Just behind the museum are the Garden of Phoenix and the Japanese Garden, which features the viral cherry blossom trees in the spring and sculptures that celebrate Chicago’s Sister City relationship with Osaka, Japan.
Eat and drink at local coffee shops, bars and restaurants
There are a multitude of locally-owned dining options near Promontory Point. Some of the more popular options for coffee and sweets include Sweet Drip Dessert Cafe at 1658 E. 53rd St. and Sip and Savor at 5301 S. Hyde Park Blvd. For a full meal, Virtue Restaurant at 1462 E. 53rd St. features southern-style cuisine with a menu created by Top Chef contestant Damarr Brown and James Beard award winner Erick Williams. Nearby, 14 Parish Restaurant and Rhum Bar at 1644 E. 53rd St. offers a Caribbean-inspired menu with dishes like coconut shrimp and the “mermaid bathwater” cocktail featuring dark and coconut rum.
Shop along the 53rd Street business corridor
The stretch of 53rd Street features shops to buy comic books, vinyl, home decor and vintage furniture. Hyde Park Records at 1377 E. 53rd St. offers vintage vinyl records, contemporary releases and archival issues of classic magazines like Ebony and Jet. Nearby Recycled Modern at 5231 S. Harper Court curates vintage and handmade furniture, home decor and art by both local and national artisans. And First Aid Comics at 1617 E. 55th St. offers vintage comic memorabilia and collectors restoration services.
Listen to live music at The Promontory venue
The Promontory, a few blocks south of the park at 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., features live music, brunches and day parties. Prince fans can listen to live music set at the “Soundtracks - A Live Musical Experience: Purple Rain” show on June 6 (tickets start at $25). Other major events include the Juneteenth at the Thank You Chicago Juneteenth Market, where local artisans and vendors will have food, crafts and art for sale in celebration of the holiday (admission is free but RSVPs are required). And Afrobeats fans can enjoy the “Afrobeats To The World (Day Party)” on June 25.
Plan your commute ahead of time
Traffic in Chicago has been especially bad lately, so planning your trip ahead of time will help you avoid starting your visit with a headache. Public transit options are limited, with the Metra getting you four blocks from the park. The green line is the “closest” “L” train, but the nearest stop is 2.5 miles away. The 6, 55, 15 and 28 bus stops are 5 to 10 minutes away. Free street parking is scarce, but there are several lots near the park for those opting to drive.
Samantha Callender is a digital reporting fellow for WBEZ. Follow her across socials @OnYourCallender.