The 606, Chicago’s first elevated park, has been around for a few years now, but it continues to serve non-stop entertainment for local families. Once an abandoned railway, the 2.7-mile long trail offers an energetic path for exercising, strolling, great views of the city and a much calmer alternative to the Lakeshore paths. Here’s how to enjoy The 606 and nearby spots with your family.
Enjoy the trail.
Walking the path is ideal for the calmer crowd who likes noticing flowers, bird watching or architecture since there is plenty of new development along the path. There is a lovely variety of plants and wildlife to take in. If your kiddos are more energetic, bring the bike or scooter. I’ll reiterate that this is a much family-friendlier crowd than the lakefront. You’ll get plenty of smiles from passerby!
Stop and take some pictures.
If you’re looking for a fun new Chicago location for family photos, the 606 offers plenty of scenery. The “Brick House” is an art installation made of tire and steel at the Damen Arts Plaza. At the access point at Leavitt (near Milwaukee Ave), there’s a beautiful stone-lined staircase which leads to a suspension-style bridge. Both are great locations for a photo shoot. Get your holiday cards taken before these spots get trendy. Note: Permits are required for wedding, engagement or cotillion photography.
Take in the history.
The story of this railway line is rich. It was originally a street-level line which was required to be elevated due to frequent accidents with pedestrians. There is an interactive map on the website which highlights locations of former businesses which kept the line running for so long from a brewery to a coal company and even an iconic toy company. The history of The Bloomingdale Line (as it was originally known) is rich and worth a conversation for visitors and locals alike.
Shop and dine along the way.
We’re in Chicago, we’re going to eat! Grab a milkshake from Choppers if you’re starting at Ashland. Enjoy hot chocolate and desserts at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate on Damen or keep heading west to Small Cheval or Irazu. Once you’re west of Kedzie, grab some casual Puerto Rican food at La Bomba on Armitage. The jibarito will make all that walking worth it.
Gaze at the stars.
The 606 provides plenty of kid-friendly events throughout the year. One of The 606’s most popular events is their sky gazing event, For The Love of Stars. On the second Friday of each month from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., The 606’s resident astronomer, Joe Guzman, offers stargazing activities at the Exelon Observatory (1800 N. Ridgeway Ave.) at the western point of the trail.
Enjoy it all year long.
When snow exceeds 3 inches, winter sports like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are encouraged on the trail. The Chicago Park District intentionally leaves the snow for those sports. When the snow is less than 3 inches, the path will be plowed in the center of the path but not the edges to protect the ridged running paths.
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