Green Spaces of Chicago
City Tour, 6 miles
Chicago's motto is "Urbs in Horto" and this ride will take you by a variety of parks and public spaces used for a variety of purposes. Each space is great for people watching and most feature great juxtaposition of city and green space. You'll see playgrounds and gardens, community dog parks, historic buildings, our new skate park, and awesome skyline views. Stop anywhere along the way to explore, play, or observe, or complete the route in just about one hour.
Divvy Bikes - $7 daily
Bike Chicago - $36+ daily for cruiser, city, mountain, road, electric, bakfiets, tandem, kids, trail-a-bike, trailer or child seat
Bobby's Bike Hike - $32+ daily for cruiser, mountain, road, tandem, kids, junior, trail-a-bike, trailer and child seat includes helmet, maps and lock
Stations at start/end of route - Harrison (Red Line) or Harold Washington Library (Loop-Pink, Brown, Purple, Orange). Map
Chicago Transit Authority - 100% of buses have bike racks. Bicycles are permitted on all CTA trains (The 'L') every day, except during weekday rush periods (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).
What to bring?
Money for food at Spoke & Bird or picnic basket and blanket
A. Printers' Row Park
Just South of the Loop is the Printer's Row neighborhood. Historically, these few blocks were home to Chicago's publishing houses. Now there are still some independent printers and book stores to be found, but also housing, local restaurants, and a small park next to the protected Dearborn bike lane. On Saturdays the park hosts a farmer's market. There is a patch of grass to lay on and seating inspired by vintage letter presses, as well as a central fountain.
B. CottonTail Park 44 West 15th Street | www.chicagoparkdistrict.com | (312) 742-3918
This park and playground is known to locals as "the sandbox park" and is a regular gathering place for families in the South Loop. It was named after the abundant cottontail rabbits who reside there outside the circular path that rings the park. If you look from the pavillion North, you'll see an incredible skyline view with the Willis Tower featured predominantly. The park features two separate play areas and a large open field ideal for kite-flying or games of catch.
C. Coliseum Park 1466 South Wabash Avenue | www.chicagoparkdistrict.com | (312) 742-7529
Coliseum Park was recently redesigned- and retained it's Romanesque columns and archway. Built on the former site of the Chicago Coliseum, a venue that hosted an impressive variety of events including Wild West shows and the Grateful Dead, it has been updated to include a dog run/dog park under the El tracks and a hilly playground set just off Wabash Avenue. (Locals still refer to this as the 'train park'- though the train play equipment was replaced awhile ago.) The park is especially fun for older children, as it has equipment for climbing, a high slide, a swing that seats a group of kids, and a merry-go-round. There are lots of benches in the shade around the perimeter of the park.
D. Chicago Women's Park & Gardens 1801 South Indiana Avenue | www.chicagoparkdistrict.com | (312) 328-0821
In the heart of Chicago's Prairie District- a hidden gem of a neighborhood sometimes referred to as the original 'Gold Coast.' The field house has park district programming, restrooms, an indoor playground, and the Spoke and Bird Cafe. The owners of the restaurant are avid cyclists and welcome bikes on their outdoor patio. Just past the restaurant seating and courtyard is the entrance to the outdoor park and gardens. Inside is a central fountain, large oak trees, community gardens, the Jane Addams memorial garden, community garden plots, and the Clark House Museum. The Clark House is the oldest building in Chicago and offers tours. On the North corner of the park is the Glessner House Museum, which also offers tours, programming, a gift shop, and more information about the Prairie District neighborhood and its importance before the Chicago Fire.
E. The Battle of Fort Dearborn Park
Chicago was originally the site of the Fort Dearborn settlement, and at this small park lying at the end of 18th street you can read all about the Fort Dearborn massacre that occurred near this site. This passive park lies just before the Metra station and 18th street pedestrian bridge that lead to the museum campus.
F. Globe Park at Museum Campus
The highlight of this little-known park might be it's "kugel ball." Give this large stone sphere a push and it will rotate on it's base in any direction. There is a climbing structure and several sculptures around the park. Located just South of the Field Museum and just North of Soldier Field, this park is surrounded by trees and small hills, and not well known even to Chicagoans.
G. Northerly Island
Bike past the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium, and you'll find yourself away from the tourists out at Northerly Island. Formerly home to Meigs Field, an active airport, and the Century of Progress World's Fair, Northerly Island is man-made but now home to a nature preserve, park district field house, and an amphitheater. In the summer, there are fishing events, family camping, and plentiful concerts. On the North side of the island, behind the planetarium, you'll find 12th Street Beach. They have good tacos and ice cream as well as restrooms at the beach house.On your way back stop for photos of Lake Michigan and the skyline from one of the best spots in the city.
H. Grant Skate Park
After crossing the 11th street bridge, head immediately South and find a spot to watch some amazing skateboarding. Just completed in Winter 2014, the Grant Park Skate Park is wildly popular and an ideal place to people watch. Just East of the park is an interactive sculpture, Agora.