No matter where you live downtown Chicago, you don’t have to go far to find a scenic route. Chicago is a city of cyclists, joggers, and serious walkers, all who embrace the elements any time of the year just to be outside with nature.
Not even snow can stop the call of the trail as it beckons. Yes, Eastsiders will answer that call of the outdoors, donning their favorite pair of shoes, gear, equipment; then it’s time to hit the road.
Many people jog right down city streets during the day, sharing the sidewalk with residents busily walking to get to work and other destinations.
It is not uncommon to have a runner breeze by, headphones on tuned to whatever inspires them to stay in motion.
Young, old, all ages take to the cement jungle and maneuver through the crowds while concentrating on their stride. Weaving in and out of people and traffic, we city dwellers are bound and determined to get our exercise.
We have been joggers for most of our lifes. We also enjoy a nice walk occasionally, now. While some have the ability to tune out the cacophony that surrounds us here on the Eastside, the beep-beep of the cars is a distraction for me.
So, we prefer to find trails that allow us to tune in to the sounds of nature, plus give us a view. The scenery inspires us, gives us motivation, keeping us coming back day after day.
Because the New Eastside is bordered by the Chicago River to the north, Lake Michigan to our east, and Grant and Millennium Parks to the south, we have some of the prettiest trails, most bucolic walkways. Noise is at a minimum in this enclave. The surroundings are pristine, some of the best sights in the city.
As we exit the building, our goal is to get away from the skyscrapers and head for the water. Instead of taking the shortcut through the marina parking lot (down to the Lancaster, then east between the empty lot and The Park Shore), we go south to Randolph, warming up with a walk through the Cancer Survivors Gardens, a most beautiful section full of flora in the spring and summer. The place is very peaceful – a great way to begin a jog.
Out of the gardens, we turn east, still walking as we watch the squirrels, who rule, scamper around, playing and searching for food. We follow the trail out of the park to the street, cross, voila! Lake Michigan. Time now to run. Or, shall I say — jog? Doesn’t matter, here you will encounter walkers, joggers, bikers on bike trails, rollerbladers, and dedicated, serious marathoners.
Head south to get scenery of DuSable Harbor, boats, Grant Park, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium, water fountains, statues, the skyscrapers on Michigan Avenue and beyond, and of course, Lake Michigan. You can follow this for miles, if you like. This is our favorite route.
Go north to see Navy Pier, (you will have to go up the steps by the bridge to cross the Chicago River), the beautiful architecture of the apartment buildings that line the west side of Lake Shore Drive, beaches, boats, and of course, the lake.
Hear the seagulls? You can travel as far as your legs will carry you, turn around and come back. Lake Shore Drive goes north for several miles, as well. Our walk/run is normally 3-6 miles, depending on how far south we go before turning back.
On the return, hydrate at the water fountain next to the coffee shop and Asian Restaurant or take a breather. Have a seat on one of the benches. Take a few minutes to look out at the endless horizon and peaceful waters.
Even as ice, the lake looks lovely. Now we take the shortcut home, through the parking lot, under Lake Shore Drive, past the empty lot, The Lancaster, into the Shoreham elevator and bam! We’re home, rejuvenated and ready to finish the day.
For more information:
Runners and marathoners, check out runners club:
Chicago Area Runners Association