Best Places to Find Rest and Relaxation in Chicago

Skyline of Chicago

Sometimes we all need to unwind, and the Windy City has plenty of opportunities to relax.  These places in Chicago are prime spots when you’re in need of quality R&R.

The Garfield Park Conservatory – Garfield Park

If you’re looking for a dose of nature to calm your nerves (time spent in nature has been shown to improve mental health) check out the Garfield Park Conservatory – one of the largest conservatories in the country. While you can stroll through the 12 acres of outdoor gardens in the summer, there’s plenty to see inside during the colder months. Walk through the eight rooms of the conservatory – often referred to as “landscape art under glass” – filled with thousands of different plant species.

If the sight of flourishing flora isn’t enough to help you relax, try out a free yoga lesson on the weekends in the Horticulture Hall. Beginners and advanced yogis are all welcome to join.

Eva’s Café – Old Town

A cup of spiced cider and a comfy chair mean relaxation, especially in cold weather. Whether you live in Chi-Town or are just passing through, take a trip down to Old Town and visit Eva’s Café.  Eva’s offers delicious coffee, fresh pastries, and good vibes. It’s also quiet, which is important – noise increases stress. So throw on a cozy sweater, bring a book, and pick out your favorite Victorian armchair. Your body and mind will thank you.

Looking for more good vibes? Make sure you also try out Ipsento Coffee House in Bucktown and Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Logan Square.

On-Demand Apps – your home

Who says you have to leave the house to relax? Let the best of Chicago come to you. Zeel is your one-stop app for on-demand mobile massages. Within an hour, a massage therapist from Zeel can be anywhere in Chicagoland. Choose from a wide variety of massage options – everything from Swedish massages and deep tissue massages, to couples massages and prenatal massages.

Massage therapy can help you rediscover tranquility in your life. Swedish massages, for instance, have been proven to help reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels.

Other on-demand apps that promote relaxation include BloomThat, which will send flowers to you for a jolt of physical and emotional color, and FlyCleaners, which will pick up and deliver your laundry and dry cleaning for you.  With in-home massage, flowers, and clean laundry, your home is truly your castle of relaxation. Try some home spa decorating tips too.

Northerly Island – South Side

Located south of the Adler Planetarium, Northerly Island is 91 acres of space that’s dedicated to nature.  Try something new – hike the trails, join a discovery tour, take an archery class, or simply gaze at the Chicago skyline.

Northerly Island also hosts a wide variety of events, shows, and programs that you can also enjoy throughout the year.

Chicago Cultural Center – New East Side

While there are many museums and art installations in Chicago, when you’re looking for a place to unwind, check out the Chicago Cultural Center. Not only do they have free exhibits, events, and concerts, the Cultural Center boasts some of the most beautiful architecture in Chicago, which is saying something. Standing beneath the Tiffany dome will take your breath away and leave you feeling inspired.

If you’re looking to unwind at other museums,, check out the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Catcade – Lakeview

Spending time with animals is a great way to relieve stress. If you’re looking for the purr-fect way to unwind, start with the Catcade in Lakeview. At this arcade-themed cat rescue, you can hang out with feline friends while playing video games (basically the best combo on earth). And the fun doesn’t stop there. If you find your forever friend between games of Pac-Man, you can adopt them at the end of the night.

Animal lovers in the city have lots of options for furry fun.  Volunteer with dogs at PAWS Chicago or sip tea alongside rescue kittens at the Purrfect Roast Catfe.

The Green Mill Lounge – Uptown

Music sounds good, but it’s also been proven scientifically (and anecdotally) to improve health and enhance relaxation. One top place for great jazz is the Green Mill.  If you’re a history fan, you’ll enjoy this venue too. The Green Mill was a frequent haunt of the infamous Al Capone. You can even sit in his regular booth, which is perfectly situated so his henchmen could keep a close eye on the front and side doors.

And if jazz isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other great music venues in Chicago, including Lincoln Hall, Schubas, and Thalia Hall.

Beach day – Edgewater

If you’re not a local, you may not know that Chicago is a prime beach destination in the summer. With Lake Michigan at the city doorstep, there are 26 miles of sand along the coast.  Lake beaches have real advantages, like salt-free water and a complete lack of sharks.

Ready for the beach? From Hollywood Beach in Edgewater to Montrose Beach in Uptown, you’ve got some great options for beach trips in Chicago.

If it’s not suntanning weather, you could also try surfing in the winter, which may also reduce anxiety. During the colder months, there are some great (albeit frigid) opportunities to hit the waves.

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