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One of my favorite things about living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago is the number and variety of parks we can access via a relatively short drive. The well-funded park districts in some of the more affluent suburbs have created remarkably beautiful and functional spaces that I can’t believe we get to use for free.
Where To Go
Gallery Park | Glenview
Last weekend we found ourselves at Gallery Park in Glenview, Ill., and it was so lovely, we went twice. On Saturday night, my wife and I dropped our older kids off with my parents and enjoyed a date night in the park with our six-month-old in a stroller. The next morning, we brought all three kids to further explore the park on a picture-perfect day with an endlessly blue summer sky overwhelmed by big puffy clouds. Pandemic memories are made of this.
The 142-acre park is located on the former grounds of the Naval Air Station Glenview, adjacent to The Glen, a Pleasantville-esque residential community and commercial area. It’s been about a decade since I had spent any time here, and I must say that the dining options are much more enticing than they were before. More on that later in the What to Eat section below.
So anyway, Gallery Park has pretty much anything you could want from a park and then a few more things you wouldn’t even think to ask for. I found one of the original planning documents for the park, and it sums up the offerings quite nicely:
Gallery Park is made up of native prairie landscapes, a path system for passive recreation, a lake for viewing and fishing activities, wetlands and islands for wildlife habitat, and a combination of lawn and turf areas for sports, informal play and celebrations.
What they failed to mention is that the park also features several elaborate playgrounds, a splash pad, a hedge maze (!), one of those workout playgrounds that one ripped guy is always using by himself for chin-ups, tennis courts, a beautiful fountain overlooking the lake, an outdoor amphitheater, a lookout tower on a hill, and several 1.5ish-mile trails for walking, running or biking—both paved and unpaved. I honestly felt like I was on vacation walking around a private prairie-themed resort. I’m not sure why a resort would be themed to a prairie, but the comparison stands.
Just look at this place. Promise me right now that you will check it out for yourself!
What to Eat
Dawg Park Gourmet Grill | Located in The Glen, Glenview
The other beautiful thing about Gallery Park is that it’s located exactly one hop across Patriot Boulevard from all the eateries at The Glen. This means that you have plenty of takeout options for a beautiful picnic in the park at sunset on a 75-degree Saturday evening.
After examining our options and knowing that time was of the essence with a six-month-old in tow, we settled on Dawg Park Gourmet Grill. This casual dining establishment is themed on the inside to look like a dog park, complete with fake grass, fake sidewalks and park-related murals on the walls.
But thankfully the dog-theming does not extend to the food. Even though it is obviously a hot dog place, the creative menu has quite a few other options, so I ended up ordering a BBQ burger with fries, while my wife ordered one of their “bow wow bowls” (served in an actual dog food bowl if you’re dining in).
My burger had me howling with delight, while my wife’s bowl left her barking from the spiciness. Based on the ingredients listed on the menu, many of the entrees lean in the spicier-than-we-like-it direction for our feeble palates, but we both agreed that the fries alone were worth the trip. They have a little zing, a little crispiness, and a little grease—just the way God intended.
On our return trip the following day, I tried Your Pie—the latest in the line of fast-fired, customizable personal pizza places. While it doesn’t merit its own entry here, it was as good as Blaze, and that’s good enough for a quick and tasty lunch on the go.
There are lots of other intriguing restaurants inside The Glen, and I will happily return again to explore them and have more picnics in the park. Do you have a favorite restaurant in the area? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about it.
Tips from Dad
Wear sunscreen and bring water. There is precious little shade in this prairie-style park. The tall grasses won’t protect you from the sun, and we were plenty thankful for the intermittent clouds.
Bring a stroller. Have I mentioned lately how huge this park is? If your kid is a walking whiner, you’ll want to have a stroller option available so you can continue exploring in peace.
Bring your bikes. We don’t have kids that are the right age for this, but the 1.5-mile paths would be a great place for any recreational cyclist to get their kicks and the paved trails would be particularly good for parents and kids to bike together.
Bring another outdoor game. In addition to wildlife areas toward the middle of the park, the edges are mostly wide open grassy spaces that would be perfect for playing catch, ultimate frisbee, touch football, flying a kite, or pretty much any other outdoor sport or game that requires a large open area. We brought the kids’ tee, a bat, and a ball, and they loved taking some hacks for a while.
Thanks for reading! If you end up checking out this park or you’ve been before, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Click the buttons below to subscribe if you haven’t already and to share this newsletter with others who might benefit from it or enjoy it. See you next time!