Inside Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL

The darkness and cold of winter make exercise and being outside extra challenging, which can adversely impact our mental health.  So, this month LifeWorks staff is talking about places we like to move our bodies around Chicago during these chilly months! Although we recognize that not all of are favorites are accessible to every body, we do hope that there is enough variety to suit diverse body requirements.  Please leave your own favorites in the comments section!

Sarah Hemphill: Garfield Park Conservatory

I love the Garfield Park Conservatory. It is warm, sunny, and there is something about just breathing in the the same air with all of the plants that feels like breathing in life. Plus, when it is really cold out, they get some beautiful ice crystals on the widows. If I only have a few minutes, I will take a quick walk to the carp pond, but on days when I have longer it is a lovely place to sit and read away from the cold. Not only is right on the green line, but it’s also free.

Betsy Duke: 31st Street Beach & Promontory Point

Ok, spoiler alert, 31st Street Beach is my favorite place in Chicago all year round. In wintertime, it’s almost always deserted. If you have access to a car there is ample parking for $1 and hour, and it’s surrounded by prairie restoration, running, and bike trails. Being there seriously feels like taking a vacation from the city. It’s an awesome place to go for a hike, and in winter it’s perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

Promontory Point is a park located right on the lake (sensing a theme here?) in Hyde Park and has long been a go-to spot amongst family and friends. In the summer it’s perfect for a hammock and some fishing, and it’s one of the only places along the lake that fire pits are permitted. This makes it ideal for a mug of cocoa and a snuggly fire during these dark winter months.

Pat Cochran and Cindy Trawinski : Harms Woods

The walking/bridal paths of the Chicago Forest Preserve in Harms Woods. The quiet serenity, the tall trees, and the occasional rider on their horse all make for a peaceful retreat in the suburbs just north of the city. The rest of the Forest Preserve District are similar–one leaves the noise and bustle of the city and enters into a rejuvenating natural landscape.If you are adventourous, you can walk all the way north to the Skokie Lagoons and into the impressive and always beuatiful Chicago Botanical Garden.

Cassandra Damm: Broadway Armory and Chicago Park District

The Broadway Armory has lots of park district programs for sports and arts, a low cost workout center, and a trapeze school. Also, there are lots of other Chicago Park District locations with places to swim indoors at reasonable cost. I used to go to Gill Park when I was training for a triathlon!

Brandon Haydon: Japanese Culture Center and Morton Arboretum

Rami Henrich: Weber Leisure Center in Skokie

Ariel Gaines: Chicago Museums, Chicago Public Libraries, Cook County Forest Preserves, Chicago Park District

The Chicago Museum free days often fall in winter months and our public libraries offer free passes all the time. Also check out  Chicago On the Cheap.

The Cook County Forest Preserves can also be so beautiful in the winter!

I always like free/cheap classes through the Chicago Park District–they provide a bit of structure and reason to leave home!