Credit: Courtesy Chicago Park District

Where are some Chicago places that you go when you just need to get out of the house and get a change of scenery? When things are falling apart it’s hard not to rush to judgement and anger, or turn off and wallow in sadness. In tough times it’s more important than ever to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves and centering our emotions in a place of calm and compassion, so that we can then go out and do the good work that our families and communities need us to.

One of the places that transports me a bit whenever I get to visit is Woodlawn’s Jackson Park, 551.52 acres of Chicago Park District-maintained outdoor space. Whether it’s going to the lagoon and bird watching or catching an outdoor performance, there’s comfort in being surrounded by nature and still being able to see city buildings in the distance (hey, I’m no Thoreau).

Credit: Courtesy Chicago Park District

It’s exciting to announce that this week is a great chance for y’all to see one of my favorite moments of spring on the south side: the grove of cherry blossom trees in Jackson Park’s Columbia Basin are in full bloom! The trees generally stay in peak bloom for about ten days in late April or early May. This year’s weather caused the buds on the trees to start opening a little early, and now they’re full and ready to show off their beautiful color for your enjoyment, and, if you must, for your selfies (hashtag: nature). Check them out on a walk, run, or bike ride (you can start to see them just south of the Museum of Science and Industry), take a deep breath and reset.

  • A virtual tour of Jackson Park’s cherry blossom trees courtesy of the Chicago Park District.

Here’s some more events, activities, and exhibitions to check out in the next few days.

  • Wed, Fri, and Sat through 4/30: The Voices Embodied Project presents “Extensions,” a group art exhibition that explores themes of access, disability, and community. Two of the artists in the exhibition have been featured by the Reader recently: Sky Cubacub of Rebirth Garments, and artist and author Riva Lehrer. It’s open at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport: Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 AM-3 PM and Saturdays from noon-3 PM until the end of April. See the show’s website for more.
  • Various through early May: More spring flowers! Lincoln Park Conservancy has flowers and new growth on display, with timed-entrance tickets required. And Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show is in full bloom (sorry) through May 9.
  • Fri 4/16 and Sat 4/17, 8 PM and 10 PM, and Sun 4/18, 4 PM and 8 PM: Chicago multi-reedist, pianist, and avant garde go-to Ari Brown brings his jazz quintet to Jazz Showcase this weekend. Limited capacity and buying tickets in advance is recommended.
  • Sun 4/18, 4:30 PM: Paint, drink, and listen to R&B spun by DJ Unstable as the series Girls Love R&B meets Paint & Drank at the Promontory. Tickets required.
  • Mon 4/19, 9 AM-5 PM: It’s Free Admission Day at the Field Museum for residents of Illinois (you’ll have to show proof of residency but if you don’t have an Illinois state ID or driver’s license you can show any other photo ID plus a library card, utility bill, or work or student ID). Check out the museum’s website to find out about exhibitions currently on display.
  • Tue 4/20, 7:30 PM: Are you spending 4/20 being EXPERIENCED? (Oh, you know what I mean, Cheech). Make a stand-up comedian’s night tonight and attend a show at the Laugh Factory (tickets here).
  • Thu 4/22, 6:30 PM: The Chicago Reader Book Club presents Natalie Moore in conversation with Maya Dukmasova about Moore’s book The South Side: a Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation. Online, access provided with ticket purchase or Book Club membership.
  • Sat 4/24, noon-3 PM: The Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition partners with Precious Blood Ministry in New City/Back of the Yards for an outdoor Wraparound Re-Entry Resource Fair featuring local organizations such as Legal Aid Chicago, Olive-Harvey College, and the Period Collective as they offer free resources to formerly incarcerated community members and their families. See the Coalition’s Facebook page for more information about the event and ways to support the cause.