There are countless numbers of posts across the web extolling the virtues of my city of Chicago. There are millions of pictures of The Bean, Museum CAMPUS, Millennium Park and the Lakefront, very popular tourist destinations. But where I live in Chinatown I have access to a very special diamond in the raw of this city; Ping Tom Park Chicago. On October 2, 1999 the park opened to the public, but it remained a secret to most citizens because people couldn’t find it. I heard rumors about the great park from the Nanny’s in my Printer’s Row neighborhood, but no one could tell me definitively how to get there. One day while on my bike with my then toddler Skyler, I decided to search for the elusive gem on my own. After many twists and wrong turns I crossed over the 18th street bridge and saw the park below. It was spectacular. I didn’t just find the Ping Tom Park that day I also found our new home. I moved my growing family into a house facing the fabulous Ping Tom Park Chicago in July of 2002 and have made great advantage of our proximity to the park ever since.
Welcome to Ping Tom Park, Chinatown Chicago 1 of 14
Taxi! 2 of 14
You can access Ping Tom Park by land or river. The Chicago Water Taxi services the park via the Chicago River every day of the week.
Ping Tom Park Gazebo 3 of 14
The most iconic image of Ping Tom Park is the gazebo. It is clearly visible from the 18th street bridge above, the river below and the Wells street entrance in Chinatown. You can find residents doing tai chi and other exercises within it in the early morning hours of the day. During the Summer there are concerts, dance parties, movies and theatrical presentations for the entire community to enjoy.
Ping Tom Park Playground 4 of 14
More than anything people come to Ping Tom Park with their children to play in the playground. This park has elicited many squeals of delight from my youngest daughter Jaedyn. Her imagination soars every time we visit.
Kayaking from Ping Tom Park 5 of 14
Fun is not only had by kids in Ping Tom Park. Adults get activated too. With the opening of the brand new boat house in June of 2013, Kayaking rentals and tours are now available from the park's shore. Urban Kayak services your water adventure needs Thursday through Monday during the Spring, Summer and Fall months.
Boat Tours Past Ping Tom Park 6 of 14
You don't have to Kayak to enjoy the views of the city from the Chicago River near Ping Tom Park. There are many boat tours that pass through the parks' shadows. Be sure to bring your camera. SMILES are automatic.
Ride Your Bike in Ping Tom Park 7 of 14
Water travel is fun, but in Ping Tom Park you can feel the wind at your back on a bike too. My youngest daughter Jaedyn actually honed her riding skills on the grassy hills of the park and has been flying solo ever since.
Landscaped trails in Ping Tom Park 8 of 14
Even powered by your own two feet there is lots of terrain to survey in Ping Tom Park. Recently the park was expanded to accommodate the new boat house. More manicuring is to come with hills and glazed rocks, ornate fences and winding walkways.
Ping Tom Park is Dog Friendly 9 of 14
Two feet are great, but four paws are welcome as well. As the years go by I have seen more and more dogs taking advantage of the park. And if your pooch gets a little boisterous around other pooches, you can go off road behind the trees to avoid contact. Plenty of routes to choose from.
Flora and Fauna of Ping Tom Park 10 of 14
People and dogs alike truly enjoy the many trees, bushes, flowers and of course bamboo that decorate Ping Tom Park. The landscaping of the park clearly celebrates and honors the rich heritage of Chinatown.
Ping Tom Park is Big and Intimate at the Same time 11 of 14
With all of the trees and bamboo there are a lot of seemingly private spaces in Ping Tom Park. It can beguile visitors and even make them feel a little amorous. But keep in mind, you are never really alone in the park. My Dinning Room Window looks right at the hidden hills, so keep it PG folks.
Coming Soon to Ping Tom Park 12 of 14
Ever since I discovered Ping Tom Park I have watched it grow and evolve. Some 11 years later it is still not done. We just saw the opening of the new boat house, but still to come is the massive field house just over the train tracks. I am still waiting to hear if there will be direct access to the structure from the North side of the park. But even if there isn't I am sure that Ping Tom park will feel the benefits of the proximity.
Beautiful Night Sky Over Ping Tom Park 13 of 14
Daytime isn't the only time that Ping Tom Park offers beauty to behold. The night sky glows bright over the park. The Police regularly patrol the area so you can feel safe strolling the paths in the moonlight.
Mapping Chinatown from Ping Tom Park 14 of 14
Recently the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce installed a much needed map at the mouth of the entrance to the park. Now once you have finished your exploration of PingTom Park you can continue your travels plotting a pathway deeper into the neighborhood. Of course in Chinatown you can always just follow your nose.
Parks for me are hallowed ground. So much joy and activity to be had. That’s why I wanted to celebrate Ping Tom Park Chicago and share it with you. Your turn. What is your favorite park? Let me know. It’s only fair. I’ve showed you mine, now you show me yours.
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