Things to See and Do in Chicago

Things to See and Do in Chicago
When you think about Chicago, your first inclination may not be outdoor recreation. However, the city has much more to offer than just great food, excellent shopping and premier museums. The Windy City also features options for running, walking, biking and boating. Or, if you are just looking for a little relaxation, feel free to seek out one of the city's many green spaces to rest for awhile before returning to the city's fast pace.

Lakefront Path

During the spring, summer and fall months, you are likely to see many people taking advantage of the paved lakefront path. This pathway can particularly be busy on weekend mornings during the summertime when runners training for October's Chicago Marathon take to the pavement. This multi-use path is popular with runners, walkers, bicyclers and in-line skaters. The pathway is 18 miles in length, and begins in the northside around Bryn Mawr Avenue and continues southward to Hyde Park. During the summer months, bikes and in-line skates are available for rent at Foster Beach, North Avenue Beach, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Riverwalk. Rental rates start at $6, depending on the type of equipment rented and rental period.

Bike Chicago
(888) BIKE-WAY

Local Parks

The Chicago Park District features more than 7600 acres of parkland contained in 570 parks, beaches, playgrounds, gardens and other facilities. Most city neighborhoods have a playground or larger park. Popular parks include the Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission), Grant Park and Millennium Park. During the summer evenings, a number of city parks participate in the Movies in the Parks program, in which recent and classic movies are shown against a big screen. Admission is free (see the Resources section below for movie and location schedule).


There are six different golf courses managed by the Chicago Park District. These include the nine-hole Robert A. Black Golf Course, the challenging nine-hole Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, the nine-hole links-style Columbus Park Golf Course, the 18-hole Jackson Park Golf Course, the nine-hole Marquette Park Golf Course and the nine-hole South Shore Golf Course. The Diversey Driving Range is located just off Lake Shore Drive and also offers a miniature golf course. An 18-hole miniature golf course is also located at the Douglas Park Learning Course.

Chicago Park District Golf
(312) 245-0909

Walking Tours

One of the best ways to see a city is to walk its streets. Taking a walking tour can help put things into perspective. One of the more popular walking tours is offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which offers tours featuring information on the city's architectural history. Tour days and times vary and prices start at $13. If you are visiting the city in the late spring through early fall months, you can opt to take an Architectural Boat Tour, also offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Chicago Architecture Foundation
(312) 922-3432


Swimming, boating and other watersports are popular activities in Chicago, given the location alongside Lake Michigan. During the summer months, swimmers training for the Chicago Triathlon are a common sight along Oak Street Beach. In all, there are 15 lifeguard-monitored beaches open to swimming in the city. If boating is more your style, there are several companies that offer sailing lessons, sailboat rentals for qualified skippers, or boat charters.

Chicago Sailing
(773) 871-7245

Sail Chicago
(312) 409-9000

Windy City Sailing
(773) 868-0096


If the weather is uncooperative during your stay, one option is to take advantage of the dismal conditions by exploring one of the city's many impressive museums. Natural history buffs should check out the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium or Adler Planetarium (all located at Museum Campus). If science is your thing, you may want to take a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. Art buffs should definitely make a trip to the Art Institute. In addition to these well-known attractions, the city also features a number of other museums, including the Chicago History Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and many others.

Chicago Botanic Garden

If you want to take a break from the urban jungle, there are several options located not far from the city. The Chicago Botanic Garden is located just north of the city in Glencoe, Illinois. The gardens are open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. The gardens feature a variety of plants in display gardens and three native habitats. Educational programs and special exhibitions are offered throughout the year. If you are feeling up to a challenge, you can even bike to the garden from the city of Chicago, making use of the city and suburban bike paths.

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, Illinois
(847) 835-5440

Article Written By Susan Berg

Based in northern Wisconsin, Susan Berg has more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her work has been published in both print and online media, including the "Dayton Daily News" and BioZine. Berg earned a Master of Arts in journalism from Indiana University.

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