Mark Twain's prophetic words about Chicago ring true today: "...She is
always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through
the last time." What
Twain knew then is that Chicago continuously reinvents the urban
The latest developments in public green spaces not only transform
the aesthetic of well-known areas of the city, but also create more opportunity
to enjoy the characteristics that make Chicago such a vibrant and unique
destination. This is the ideal time to explore these new additions and
some established favorites by embracing all there is to do outdoors.
If it didn't already have an
impressive public park system, Chicago took it to the next level with the
opening of the following innovative open green spaces:
- The 606 (The Bloomingdale Trail) - Officially opened to the public June 6 (6/06),
this 2.7-mile elevated trail — akin to New York City's High Line — is
built upon what was once a rail line. The trail connects four ground-level
parks and offers greater access to the Northwest side neighborhoods of Wicker
Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park. Create a full-day itinerary exploring
these communities using this re-imagined space as your guide.
- Maggie Daley Park - Situated
just east of Millennium Park, and connected by a Frank Gehry-designed
bridge, the newest addition to Chicago's "front yard" is a departure from your
typical local park. Equipped with an ice skating ribbon (which you should plan
to glide along come the winter months), state-of-the-art play areas for tikes through tweens, and a 40-ft.-tall rock climbing wall for those so
inclined to take on
the challenge, Maggie Daley Park is a full outdoor recreational
center for all ages. And if you just want to take in a warm
summer day, choose from the six picnic
groves available throughout the park.
- Chicago Riverwalk - The much anticipated Riverwalk
Extension project opened the first two phases to the public June 9 and 10, making
it possible for people to enjoy the Chicago River even more. The Riverwalk project is part of the
city's goal to reclaim the Chicago River and transform the space along its
banks from an industrial corridor into a public recreational center where pedestrians
can take in stunning architecture views further west along the river, between
State Street and LaSalle Street. The transformation of the Chicago Riverwalk is
one of the most visible and ambitious renovations of a public space in the
city's history, and is scheduled to be fully completed in 2016. It also makes
for a great lunch date.
- Grant Park Skate Park - What was formerly a grass lot at Grant Park's south
end is now a state-of-the-art skate park and bicycle obstacle course known as
the Grant Park Skate Park. This new recreational space of 1.86 acres opened to
the public in December 2014, but will see its fair share of skateboards, scooters, rollerblades and BMX bikes this month
and going into the summer. Go check out novice and expert talent on wheels as
they take on the concrete ramps and grinding rails at the only downtown skate
park. Or better yet, join in on the fun.
Looking for more fun outdoors? Here are some additional ways to enjoy
time out and about in Chicago's urban landscape:
ride with Divvy along the Lakefront Path - With more than 26 miles of lakefront and 18 miles of bike
path, there is no lack of beauty to take in when riding along between two
scenic backdrops: Lake Michigan to the east and Chicago's iconic skyline to the
west. Divvy makes a day along Chicago's treasured lakefront trail a breeze.
addition to infrastructure updates that help make the city more bike-friendly,
Chicago's Divvy bike sharing program, is adding another 1,750 bikes and 175 bike
stations to its
3,000 bikes and 300 strategically placed bike stations across the city.
a guided experience for your lakefront journey? Check out Bobby's Bike Hikes or one of these tours on wheels.
Check out a local farmers market - Outdoor farmers markets across
Chicago are now in full swing. Green City Market in Lincoln Park is a great
destination on Wednesdays and Saturdays, offering sustainably grown food and
educational workshops with local chefs. Its proximity to North Avenue Beach and
Lincoln Park Zoo is a plus! As of June 14, Green City Market introduced
a third site at Soho House Chicago (113-125 North Green Street.), which will be
open every second Sunday of the month through October from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Other opportunities throughout
the week to purchase quality, locally-grown food include the weekly farmers market at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.), on Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
as well as a myriad of neighborhood farmers markets all other days of the week.
Catch an outdoor concert or movie - Don't just take in the beautiful outdoors, pack a picnic basket and
head to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for some Tchaikovsky or a Mariachi and Folklórico Festival as part of the Grant Park Music
Or if you'd prefer, head "Back to the Future" before counting down the
launch of "Apollo 13" with the Millennium Park Summer Film Series. There are numerous ways to enjoy some fun
outdoors this season.