Welcome to "50 Great Public Lands Destinations – Chicago and Beyond"". This website is a starting point to discovering public lands within an approximately 50 mile radius of Chicago. To qualify as public land, a space must be owned or operated by a federal, state or local governmental organization. The Morton Arboretum, for example, hasn’t been included because it is owned and operated by a nonprofit organization.

For those of us who have traveled far and wide from Chicago, the pandemic which began in 2020 provided a unique opportunity to explore places close to Chicago. We were embarrassed to find so many beautiful areas on public lands that we never knew about, and we are so grateful to those who had the foresight to preserve these remarkable spaces for all of us. We will always treasure the wonderful hikes we regularly took with family and friends on our public lands; in some instances we actually got together more often than we did prior to the pandemic. And we have found it so enjoyable we will continue to explore our remarkable nearby public lands even after the pandemic subsides. The overwhelming majority of the public lands described on this website are open to the public free of charge 365 days a year so there is no excuse not to get up and go visit them now!

This website was inspired and nurtured by Deborah Williams who put together the wonderful website "50 Great Public Land Destinations – Santa Barbara and Beyond." The author, Alan Gabbay, would also like to thank Millie Calhoun, Liz Eklund, Mike Gold, Jeff Hansen, Imad Qasim, Tom Judge and Joe Schorer for participating in the hikes and providing suggestions for this website.

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