Calm Guide: Chicago

June 13 2016

Since A.J. Liebling declared it the Second City back in the 1950’s, the comparisons between Chicago and New York have been endless. But you can ask any Chicagoian, they certainly aren’t as stressed out as New Yorkers. Between the mind numbing traffic, face numbing winters and a legendarily unlucky baseball team (sorry, Chicago,) they sure have reason to be. There seems, despite all odds, to be an inherent sense of calm in Chicago – surely a town known for a the cheese- rich deep dish pizza has some things figured out. We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite spots to escape when the metropolis starts to become a little too much.

Bahá’í House of Worship

Long / Lat : 42°04’28.8″N 87°41’03.5″W
Founded : 1953
Travel time from CHI: 00:39
Level of Activity: 2.2

“The teachings of the Bahá’í Faith inspire individuals and communities as they work to improve their own lives and contribute to the advancement of civilization,” states Worldwide Baha’I Community website

Aiming to inspire an oneness among humanity, Baha’l is a gentle, open religion. Located in Wilmette, Illinois, a 40 minute drive north of Chicago, The Baha’l House of Worship is the oldest temple of its kind in the world, and the only Baha’l House of Worship in the United States.

The temple is open to the public. Within this cavernous space, one is welcome to pray, meditate, relax.

Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian and head of the Baha’I faith from 1921 to 1957. In his time with the religion, he translated many Baha’I writings.”It is not preaching any rules the world wants, but love and action,” reads one text.

What to Pack

Starved Rock State Park


Long / Lat : 41°19’06.6″N 88°59’41.0″W
Founded : 1911
Travel time from CHI: 01:36
Level of Activity: 3.8

Voted the no. 1 attraction in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park boasts 13 miles of well-blazed trails, a rustic hotel, and a plethora of activities. Formed millions of years ago by melting glaciers, the wonder of Starved Rock is in its topography. In contrast to the flat plains that make up the rest of the state, Starved Rock state park is full of canyons, valleys and waterfalls.

“Reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from technology and the stress of daily life is what Starved Rock State Park & Lodge are all about,” says marketing director Kathy Casstevens. “Nestled in the woods is a National Historic Landmark which attracts over 2.3 million visitors per year who explore the deep canyons made of St. Peter Sandstone, seasonal waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife.”
And although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, explains the park’s official website, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons.

If you’re really looking to relax, the state park has a lodge on the property. “Massage therapists are on staff, and the cabins in the woods are a truly relaxing experience,” says Kathy.

What to Pack

Graceland Cemetery & Arboretum

Long / Lat : 41°57’18.2″N 87°39’42.6″W
Founded : 1861
Travel time from CHI: 00:19
Level of Activity: 2.7

Located on the North Side, this Victorian-era cemetery is one of the city’s most beautiful settings for a quiet walk. Graceland Cemetery acts as the final resting place for many famous Chicagoans. Lined with elaborate tombs, mausoleums and beautifully landscaped, Graceland is more beautiful than spooky, and is located just a few blocks north of Wrigley Field. The history of the place, which was established in 1860, combined with a peaceful silence, makes Graceland one of the most calming pockets in an otherwise hectic city.

“The Cemetery is open to all to visit, and its architectural masterpieces, local history and beauty are the magnets that attract people to Graceland,” says Graceland’s website. “While architects from the traditional to the father of skyscrapers and modern masters take center stage, you’ll find that Graceland also holds fascinating stories of private eyes and public figures, baseball and boxing greats, merchants and inventors and other unique individuals.”

Perhaps the most calming aspect of an old cemetery is the fact that they’re not the most sought out destinations. They’re slow, sleepy spaces designed for silence and reverence.

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