Chicago is a city with an abundance of green space and cool parks, but Maggie Daley takes the cake. It sits just outside Millennium Park, just steps from the lakeshore, with gorgeous city views. With an ice skating “ribbon,” larger-than-life climbing structures, a climbing wall and a play garden, this is worth a stop-and-play. Yep, even in the cold. Read on for the scoop.
The Lay of the Land
The 20-acre park that hugs the downtown skyline was a much-buzzed-about addition, named in honor of the late philanthropist and city icon, Maggie Daley. The former First Lady of Chicago co-created the After School Matters program, a nonprofit that offers teens stimulating out-of-school activities. The park carries on her legacy of helping kids grow and thrive, and is free to all.
photo: Chicago Park District
A Play Ship, Mega Slide & More
The southeast section of the park is anchored by a three-acre play garden, the first of its kind in Chicago. Designed in the spirit of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” it’s meant to spark imagination and get kids moving in a landscape that’s a bit surreal and fanciful. There are challenges for all levels, from toddlers up to grade schoolers.
Some activities you can share in with the kids are climbing aboard a life-sized play ship via red ropes, scurrying to the top of a wooden lookout tower, zipping down a three-level tube slide, or walking across a wooden bridge and waving to onlookers below. There’s so much to do and—best of all—there’s plenty of space because up to 600 children can comfortably play in the garden at one time.
The Skating Ribbon
Maggie Daley Park is intended to be a destination for any season, warm or cold, and its skating feature is proof. The J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Skating Ribbon provides 27,500 square feet of ice surface, which is nearly twice the size of a traditional skating rink. In contrast to your typical oval-shaped sheet of ice, the ribbon is more like a meandering path. It can hold up to 700 skaters at a time.
In the summertime, they’ll say bye-bye to ice and the turf will be for roller skaters and scooters, and will also hold gallery exhibitions and special events.
photo: Chicago Park District
The Climbing Wall
The Malkin-Sacks Rock Climbing Wall will entice young adventure seekers. Its highest point is 40 feet and the entire wall is divided into different sections for beginners and advanced climbers, accommodating bouldering, lead-harnessed and top rope climbing. Between 25 and 100 climbers will be able to use the wall at a time.
There is also an “Enchanted Forest” with a mirrored maze and kaleidoscope, a harbor-like play apparatus for toddlers, and a bevy of slides including spiral, wide and rail. Event spaces will are available, as well. Imagine staking out a spot at a picnic grove or having a birthday party on a sweeping lawn.
Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St.
— Kelly Aiglon