Yesterday, I felt like crap. My stomach was bothering me, I was tired, and I was bored. Yes, I had plenty of cleaning and chores to be doing, but who wants to do that when it’s 45 degrees (F) in January? Around 4PM I was feeling better and decided to take full advantage of it by heading to Milwaukee County’s Jackson Park.
With just over 100 acres, Jackson Park has something to offer everyone. If you’re looking for sports, they’ve got you covered with opportunities for basketball, tennis, football, soccer, and more (though some of the fields could use some updating). Just want some exercise? In addition to the strange little exercise stations (which, my research shows, are apparently called HELIOS Multigyms), there are multiple paths around the park, including a section of the Oak Leaf Trail. There’s also a playground if you have kids with energy to burn.
In the summer, Jackson Park has an outdoor pool available for anyone with a pool pass (which can be purchased, and used, at a handful of outdoor pools in the Milwaukee area). Would you prefer to relax a bit? No problem! If fishing is your thing, the lagoon is a great spot to cast a line. Jackson Park is also a great place for a picnic, with multiple sites available to reserve (just make sure you have a permit for that grill). Otherwise, take a seat on one of the park’s many benches to read a book, take a nap, or just get your people-watching on.
I, of course, opted to walk. My go-to path is the one that outlines the lagoon. It’s only about half a mile, but you get to enjoy the peace and beauty of the water (or, this time of year, ice) as you stroll along. It also takes you past the park’s statue, The Pewter Lady. Sculpted by Gustav Haug, she was originally located above the entrance to Milwaukee’s Chamber of Commerce building (today’s Mackie Building). She lived there from 1880 until 1909 when she was moved to Reynolds Grove (as a gift from the South Division Civic Association). This area, also known as Reynolds Park, would become Jackson Park in 1910, and was a City of Milwaukee park until 1937 when it became a county park.
I will continue to visit Jackson Park whenever I can, not just because it’s convenient (I can drive there from my house in under 10 minutes), but because it’s the perfect park in any season. In the winter, it is peaceful and calm, perfect for a Saturday evening stroll. The spring brings out more people (and animals) and the park projects a feeling of rebirth and renewal. In the summer, the park is buzzing with activity, taking on an energy of its own and opening endless opportunities. And in the fall the paths provide a front-row view of the changing leaves, from the summer greens to the autumn yellows, oranges, and reds.
Want to check out Jackson Park? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Like many of the Milwaukee County parks, Jackson Park is open until 10PM. The park is also dog-friendly, with the usual restrictions (must be leashed, take notice of any signs indicating spots they might be prohibited, etc.).
- Most of the parking at Jackson Park is on the street. There is a small lot if you drive down 43rd St/Miller Pkwy, but that’s best used by people attending picnics in that area of the park. Don’t worry; there’s a lot of street in the area, since the park is in the middle of town.
- Along the lagoon is the building that houses Jackson Park Community Room. This room can be rented for parties or events of up to 40 people, so long as you don’t need a kitchen and aren’t planning to rock out (no amplified sound or music allowed).
- Don’t feed the wildlife. Not only is it illegal and bad for the animals, it’s in your own best interest, too. Admire from afar and appreciate them for what they are: wild.
If you’re looking to learn more, check out these links!
Jackson Park (Urban Milwaukee)
Jackson Park Map (Milwaukee County Parks)
Gustav Haug & The Pewter Lady (Wisconsin Historical Society)
Oak Leaf Trail (Milwaukee County Parks)