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Grant Park & Buckingham Fountain free

301 South Columbus Drive | Chicago, IL 60605 | Official website
Grant Park & Buckingham Fountain Photo info
Songquan Deng/Shutterstock
  • Type: Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing
  • Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
Overall Rating: 5.0 U.S. News Travel (4.9)
Value: 5.0 (5.0)
Facilities: 4.5 (4.5)
Atmosphere: 5.0 (5.0)
About these ratings

Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a large swath of green space bordering the eastern edge of the Loop and stretching down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) In between the high-profile attractions sit baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and plenty of grassy terrain.

At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 134 jets used to shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during the 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m.). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music; many recent visitors say that they were glad they returned after sundown to see the light show, but they recommend getting there early for a good view.

Grant Park is open to visitors every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and admission is free. You can also stop by Buckingham Fountain at any time at no cost, but other attractions within the park operate set hours and may charge entry fees. You can access Grant Park from a variety of "L" train stops, including Adams/Wabash, Harold Washington Library and Roosevelt — all lines except for the Yellow and Blue lines service one or more nearby stations. To learn more about Grant Park, visit the official website.

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