Things to Do in Chicago

Things to Do in Chicago
Finding outdoor activities in Chicago may seem impossible, but the truth is that this old city has much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. Once you've spent time visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hancock Observatory and Wrigley Field, it's time to put your walking shoes on and spend some time getting to know the other Chicago.

Millennium Park

For those who want to enjoy the outdoors, Millennium Park has much to offer. Admission is always free here, but the park closes at 11 p.m. Aside from live concerts (the Joffrey Ballet often performs here), fountains and impressive art, the park offers lots of active pursuits. The Sunday Garden Walks, for example, are conducted every weekend between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. These guided tours of the park last 20 minutes and are a good way to get to discover Chicago's native plants while getting some exercise. On Saturdays between 7am and 11am, free workout classes are offered at the Great Lawn. These include yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Zumba. For those who want something lighter, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at the Tribune Plaza, is open until 8 p.m. and skating is free if you bring your own skates. Otherwise, just rent a pair for a few dollars.

Millennium Park Administrative Office
78 E. Washington, 1st Floor
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

Powderhorn Lake Forest Preserve

The name says it all. Powderhorn Lake Forest Preserve is a destination that combines water, land and animals to entertain and surprise even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiast. The lake itself is popular for its boating activities, which include everything from private sailboats to rowboats and kayaks. While fishing is allowed in Powderhorn Lake, other areas, like the Cook County Forest Preserve district (which falls within the park limits), allow no fishing, hunting or flower/mushroom picking. There are more than 300 miles of trails within the preserve, of which 100 miles are paved and good to use for biking during rainy times. Popular trails include the 17.5-mile long Thorn Creek Trail, which crosses through woods, meadows and water streams. The Arie Crown Forest Trail System is possibly the most used trail, as it blooms with wildflowers a good part of the year and also offers picnic shelters and lakeside rest spots next to Lake Ida. Birdwatching is a popular activity within the preserve, and maps and booklets to help you are available through the park's administrative office.

Powderhorn Lake Forest Preserve
13717 South Avenue O
Chicago, IL 60633
(800) 870-3666

Midway Plaisance Ice Rink

There are a number of outdoor skating rinks in Chicago, but none beat the Midway. This Olympic-size ice rink offers all-day skating for free if you bring your own skates. Otherwise, rentals are just $5 for unlimited time on a single day. Food concession stands and late closing on Saturdays (the rink is open until 9 p.m.) make this a favorite rink with adults, both locals and visitors. The University of Chicago organizes events at the rink throughout the year, which include everything from concerts to hot chocolate nights. Once you're done skating, take a walk around the park and enjoy Hyde Park, which surrounds the rink. You can bike, picnic and jog here. There is also a small lake within the park, where swimming allowed in summer.

Hyde Park and Midway Plaisance Ice Rink
1130 North Midway Plaisance
Chicago, IL 60637
(312) 745-2470

Article Written By Sarah Dray

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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