At the first hint of warm weather this year my husband and I added some new members to our family: bicycles.
This might not seem like a big commitment to some, but as a member of the “cheap enough to get outrageously angry about the difference in the number of brats vs. brat buns in the packaging”* camp, spending a relatively big wad of cash on bikes/helmets/locks/toddler seat was a yuuuuuuge commitment. (Here’s hoping The Donald doesn’t sue me for copyright infringement here.)
After almost a full summer now (What?! Didn’t it just stop snowing?!) I am relieved to say that biking around the city has had one of the greatest payoffs imaginable. Biking miraculously doubled the distance we could go without the help of a train/bus/car, it’s exercise, it’s in the fresh air, and, in case you had forgotten, there’s this really cool “bike path thing” right along this “lake thing” our beautiful city sits on. Often our family activities now involve planning around places to bike, which is why our perfect summer Sunday is often comprised of stops along the lakefront path in the city.
A place to eat
Green City Market
It seems almost cliché these days, but biking down the Green City Market at Lincoln Park is great. There are samples, great local farmers selling their goods, as well as sandwiches, crêpes, smoothies, and any other assorted edibles available. Be sure to bring your backpack for all the great goods you’re bound to want to bring home!
South of the Lincoln Park Zoo every Wednesday and Saturday
A place to play
The first time we biked to Montrose Beach I was actually embarrassed at how easy it was. No parking, no walking from the nearest bus stop, we just rode up and hit the sand. Biking to the beach was a game changer; we no longer bragged to our friends outside Chicago about having beaches in the city, we were those people who went to the beaches in the city. Whether it’s Montrose, North Ave., Oak Street, or any other of our great public beaches in the city, try and hoard your time on them like Gollum holds onto his precious, because winter is coming. (There is also not a single person who can stop the nerd reference mashup that just took place there. I regret nothing!)
A place to grab a treat
Bobtail Ice Cream
In our book, nothing says summer treat like ice cream. Luckily if you bike to the ice cream shop the calories don’t count!** Our favorite ice cream place in the city is the ever-adorable Bobtail Ice Cream. This spot serves up local deliciousness with seasonal flavors about three blocks off the lakefront in East Lakeview.
2951 N. Broadway
A place for a rainy day
Happy Play Cafe
Biking in the rain isn’t exactly the definition of “fun,” but if you do get caught in the rain, Happy Play Cafe is a great place to wait out those scattered rain clouds. Bunnies and a train table are sure to turn those rainy day frowns upside down.
2346 N Clark St.
A place to cap off a day of biking
The Clock Tower Cafe
You should feel really honored I’m telling you about this because it could be my most favorite hidden spot on the entire lakefront path. The Clock Tower Café off the Addison lakefront entrance sits directly at the beginning of the Lincoln Park golf course in the actual park. It has a patio looking straight out over the lake, and serves up a great kids menu and drinks for the parents. It even has ice creams and treats to go if you don’t want to sit down. The food is shockingly good, and the views and casual atmosphere can’t be beat on a summer day. It’s the perfect way to cap off a long day of riding along the lakefront path.
3600 N. Recreation Drive
If you don’t have little ones who need special gear or equipment, Divvy bikes are a great option to introduce yourself to the biking world of Chicago. And even better, you don’t have to lock up your bike at your destination!
*Do you remember that scene in “Father of the Bride” where George Banks loses it over this issue? While I found that scene hilarious like everyone else, I looked around and nobody seemed to really relate to the actual anger he felt.
**I read it on the internet,*** so it must be true.
***And by “read it on the internet” I mean, I wrote it on the internet, so it’s now on the internet. This is really a classic chicken versus egg scenario we have going on here.