By Amy Tara Koch
August 20, 2014
Credit: iStockphoto

Chicagoans deal with brutal winters by focusing on the positive: swoon-worthy outdoor activities available during non-blizzarding months. As soon as the sun comes out, we live al fresco and take full advantage of Lake Michigan, sweeping grassy meadows, and a bevy of outdoor attractions. Sure, at the end of the day, Chicago is a city. But thanks to more than 580 city parks and an expansive lakefront, it feels breezy and spacious, resembling a lakeshore community more than a concrete jungle. In fact, one could spend the entire day simply walking coastal trails. Beaches, bike paths, and nature sanctuaries wind all the way from the south side of Chicago to the northern suburbs. The arrival of Divvy bikes has been a boon to free spirits wishing to explore the city on their own. Music lovers find paradise in the city’s free outdoor performances and, as always, sports fans can pass an afternoon watching the Cubs at historic Wrigley Field.

Millenium Park

In the heart of the Loop, this park is a multi-functional green space peppered with contemporary art and classic Chicagoan architecture. Wade in the reflecting pool of the Crown Fountain’s Jaume Plensa video projections, and visit Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate. Picnic at the Lurie Gardens or alongside Frank Gehry’s deconstruction style performance stage.

Lakefront Trail

Walk East and you will have a delightful rendevous with Lake Michigan. The 18-mile Lakefront Trail accomodates both pedestrians and cyclists, and showcases the city’s boat harbours, green parks, boardwalks, and stunning skyline. Take a detour for easy access to star attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Art Institute, and Navy Pier.

Divvy Bike Share

The blue bikes you see clustered all over the city are the perfect sightseeing opportunity. Simply determine your destination and buy a 24-hour pass from your closest Divvy station. Bikes are available 24/7, 365 days a year, and are conveniently stationed throughout the metro area. With a fleet 3,000 strong, you’ll never miss an opportunity to pedal your way around the Second City.

Wrigley Field

Ferris Bueller had the right idea: There is no better way to spend a sunny Chicago afternoon than at a Cubs baseball game. Wrigley Field is an icon for lovers of this American pastime, revered as the country’s oldest National League ballpark. Classic ambiance (ivy-covered outfield wall and a hand-turned scoreboard) enhances this nostalgic experience.

Architecture River Cruise

Checking out the city’s dreamy architecture (Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, Civic Opera House) from a mobile perch in the Chicago River is a must-do. Aboard Chicago’s First Lady, a Golden Era cruising yacht, the Chicago Architect Foundation docents spotlight landmarks and discuss how Chicago evolved into the home of modern American architecture.