Chicago - Downtown's Newest Playground: Maggie Daley Park on April 10, 2015 it sits just outside Millennium Park just steps from the lakeshore.

Neighborhood News: ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ at Maggie Daley Park

Chicago - Downtown's Newest Playground: Maggie Daley Park on April 10, 2015 it sits just outside Millennium Park just steps from the lakeshore.

Go east toward the lakefront, past Michigan Avenue, to the northeast corner of Grant Park. Year-round, in front of a picturesque Lake Michigan,  you’ll see 20 rolling acres of skating, skateboarding, rock climbing, miniature golf, tennis, pickleball, and even rock-climbing!

Welcome to Maggie Daley Park,  337 E. Randolph Street, named in memory of Maggie C. Daley (1943 – 2011), the longtime First Lady of the City of Chicago and wife of Mayor Richard M. Daley.  The First Lady was deeply committed to improving the lives of children and making the city culturally rich for all of its citizens. 


For many decades, according to the Chicago Park District’s website, the area was an expansive parking lot, with a portion of the Illinois Central’s sunken rail yard extending along the northwestern edge. In the mid-1970s, the Chicago Park District replaced the lot with the Richard J. Daley Bicentennial Plaza, a complex that provided a new 3,700-car underground garage and a new fieldhouse offered indoor recreational programming as well as several outdoor amenities such as tennis courts, an ice skating rink, picnic areas, and Grant Park’s first playground.

In 2009, the website notes that the City of Chicago and the Park District began plans to renovate the underground parking garage and fieldhouse and enliven the outdoor elements in this area. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, an internationally renowned landscape architecture firm, was contracted to design my the new park space.

Today: The ‘Willie Wonka of Public Park Spaces’

Maggie Daley Park connects to Millennium Park via the BP Pedestrian Bridge. 

Fans of Ronald Dahl’s classic children’s tales will appreciate the parallels between the remarkable chocolate factory and the creativity, thoughtfulness, and innovative accessibility of Maggie Daley Park. While there is no chocolate lake or Everlasting Gobstoppers at the end of the park, there are a myriad of activities for everyone to have a great time and stimulate your (and your child’s) imagination! 


Take for example, the 18-hole miniature golf course featuring replicas of iconic Chicago structures. Golfers can putt underneath a 6-foot tall Willis Tower, birdie towards a replica of a Picasso sculpture, and try for a hole-in-one around a replica of the Chicago Theatre’s iconic sign, or sink a ball into the Chicago Bulls’ basketball hoop! 

‘Pure Imagination’ in the Play Garden 

Maggie Daley Park’s Play Garden, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Designed in the spirit of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ the Play Garden is divided into separate play experiences, including The Sea, an 8,500 square foot play loop that features a metal play ship with multiple points of accessible entry and exit as well as downs and ups, ladders, nets, a captain’s wheel, and multiple vantage points. 

The Slide Crater is wide slides, rail slides, and slides that emerge from a Play Pyramid. The large suspension bridge elevated by two towers, one with a wealth of play features including knobs, flags, a viewing scope, and talk tubes.

Climbing Wall… no reservations! 

At the center of the Skating Ribbon, says the website, sits two rock-climbing structures that form Chicago’s first and only Climbing Park. These custom-designed sculptural rocks and boulders provide a unique outdoor recreational experience for beginners and experts alike, supported with instruction and supervision by park staff.

Maggie Daley Park is open from 6am to 10pm seven days a week. As they prepare for the summer, rollerblade and scooter rentals will be available on weekends through Sunday, May 21. The Climbing Wall and Skating Ribbon open just in time for Memorial Day Weekend on Friday, May 26. For more information, click here. 

Note: Effective May 20, 2022, the Chicago Park District has enacted the following Youth Escort Policy for Maggie Daley Park: Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (21 years and older) after 6pm, Thursday through Sunday — and may be asked to present a valid ID. The adult must be present for the duration of the visit and may escort up to four young people.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago