By Rachel Azark

Why not try something different for Mother’s Day this year? Instead of a Mother’s Day brunch, a spa treatment or breakfast in bed, how about treating mom to a picnic outside to enjoy the weather and nature. Mom can kick back, relax and still enjoy spending time with her family. She’ll enjoy homemade sandwiches Dad can make with the kids, or if that’s too adventuresome there are plenty of places where you can pick up some nice sandwiches and sides to take along with you.

(credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605

Not actually inside the planetarium, but the area surrounding it is a great location to get one of the best views of the Chicago skyline. You can either sit in the grass under the shade of some trees, or on the steps leading down to the lake. After lunch, you have your choice of treating mom to the planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum. If you think parking would be a hassle in that area, you can take the 146 bus over from the Loop.

(credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Buckingham Fountain

Congress Parkway & Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

As long as a race isn’t taking off from that location that morning, sitting around the Buckingham Fountain is another great idea. Not only can you watch the fountain shoot a geyser into the air every hour, you have a wonderful view of the lake. Also in the area surrounding the fountain, there are some really lovely gardens to walk through. Moms love flowers.


Morton Arboretum

4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532

Is getting to the city a bit of a hike for you? In Lisle, enjoy the Morton Arboretum’s 1,700 acres and 16 miles of manicured trails. Pick a tree to sit under or a beautiful garden and relax for your picnic. With so many acres there are plenty of spots to choose from. You can even go online and see what’s blooming under Bloom ‘N Color.


Starved Rock State Park

Rt. 178 & 71
Utica, IL 61373

Up for a little bit of a road trip? Go ninety miles southwest of Chicago and you’ll find yourself amongst the canyons and waterfalls of beautiful Starved Rock. Down by the river and near the visitor’s center there are plenty of picnic tables where you can enjoy lunch. Of if you prefer to hike in a ways on the trails you can sit by one of the waterfalls and eat your lunch there. With all of the rain we have been getting recently, the waterfalls should be quite impressive right now.

North Pond Nature Sanctuary

2045 W. Lincoln Park West
Chicago, 60614

Sit out on the grounds near North Pond, a naturalized shoreline habitat along with a surrounding prairie habitat. Enjoy spending some time at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum before taking a break for lunch outside to enjoy the weather. The waterfowl, dragonflies, butterflies, and turtles are sure to keep the kids entertained. After lunch you can walk it all off by walking around the 13 acres of land the pond is nestled in. Or if the kids really start getting restless you can take them across the street to the Lincoln Park Zoo for free.

Rachel Azark is a writer and lives on Chicago’s northwest side. She thanks her mom for always supporting her creative writing endeavors and being her biggest cheerleader. Read more of her work on her blog