Chicago’s Outdoor Attractions for Fun in the Sun

Enjoy some outdoor attractions in Chicago with new COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

Parks and green spaces throughout Chicago have been open for socially distanced activities for some time, but now some of Chicago’s most iconic outdoor attractions are reopening to the public.

Safely Visit Chicago's Top Outdoor Attractions

It’s a difficult balancing act in the city lately since coronavirus cases have been on the rise again. Chicago could return to Phase three if masks and physical distancing aren’t the norms. Adhering to CDC guidelines and recommendations could help these outdoor attractions stay open for summer family fun.

Chicago’s most well-known waterfront destination is Navy Pier. The boardwalk attraction is celebrating its 104th anniversary this July | WhereTraveler

Navy Pier

Chicago’s most well-known waterfront destination is Navy Pier. The boardwalk attraction is celebrating its 104th anniversary this July. While it won’t be the celebratory extravaganza Chicagoans hoped for, Navy Pier has reopened with safety restrictions in place to promote public health and safety. High touch surfaces will be frequently sanitized and the number of guests limited. Several of Chicago’s most iconic eateries have reopened their Navy Pier locations including Garrett’s Popcorn and Giordano’s Pizza. The one-acre Crystal Gardens are open too. The 6-story glass atrium has a 50-foot glass archway that towers over 80 live palm trees, lush greenery, and dancing fountains. Twinkle lights sparkle in the evening creating a romantic and serene atmosphere. Live music occurs nightly along the promenade

The Brookfield Zoo reopened to the public on July 8 with new safety restrictions in place | WhereTraveler

Brookfield Zoo

The Brookfield Zoo reopened to the public on July 8 with new safety restrictions in place. Time-specific online reservations are required with 20-minute entrance windows, face coverings are required for all visitors over the age of 2, and guests must remain socially distant from other visitors. Some indoor exhibits are still closed, but visitors can still see rhinos, giraffes, big cats, gorillas, and so much more. The price of admission includes the “Dinos Everywhere Exhibit” that features 40+ animatronic dinosaurs visible throughout the park. Downloadable maps are available on the zoo’s website to help visitors find every dinosaur. Food, gift shops, and other facilities are available but limited.

Chicago residents looking to escape the city for outdoor family fun should visit the Cosley Zoo which reopened July 8 and is only 45-minutes away | WhereTraveler

Cosley Zoo

Chicago residents looking to escape the city for outdoor family fun should visit the Cosley Zoo which reopened July 8 and is only 45-minutes away. Pre-booked, time-specific tickets are required for entry and exclusively sold online. Each ticket allows for 1 hour of visiting time. Masks are required for zoo guests over the age of 2 when appropriate social distancing cannot be observed. The Cosley zoo is home to more than 50 species across their 20 exhibits. They have a variety of farm animals and native Illinois creatures to learn about. Currently, duck and chicken feedings have been suspended and the gift shop is closed for the time being. 

Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest water park, is just an hour from downtown Chicago | WhereTraveler

Raging Waves

Raging Waves, Illinois’ largest water park, is just an hour from downtown Chicago. The waterpark has 15 different aquatic attractions including slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and splash pads. To help keep guests safe, the Shark Bite Cafe will be accepting mobile orders via the Raging Waves app. Advanced tickets are required of all guests including season pass holders. The park is limiting the number of guests and also closely monitoring the population of each individual attraction. There may be queues to ensure attractions do not become overcrowded. Face coverings are required of all guests that are not actively swimming. Only clear plastic bags are allowed in the park and guests are encouraged to bring full water bottles with them as drinking fountains will be unavailable. Guests are also encouraged to come “swim-ready” because locker room facilities will be operating with smaller capacities.

Only 30 minutes outside of Chicago, visitors can fly through the trees at the Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park | WhereTraveler

Ziplining

Only 30 minutes outside of Chicago, visitors can fly through the trees at the Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park. Outdoor spaces are suited to physical distancing (6 feet or 1 gorilla length) and the natural air circulation in the canopy helps keep everyone safe (masks are still required when social distancing is impossible). Thrill-seekers can test their mettle in a variety of ropes courses, ziplines, axe throwing ranges, and jump lines. Both guests and staff are required to wear full-finger gloves which can be brought from home or purchased onsite. The staff members receive daily health screenings and are sent home if they don’t pass. If guests have been sick in the last 2 weeks, Go Ape will happily refund or reschedule a visit. There are ample hand sanitizing stations throughout the park in both guest and staff areas.