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Experience the Lakefront
Enjoy the Lake
San Diego and Los Angeles may have the ocean, and New York its Central Park, but Chicago has the peaceful waters of Lake Michigan at its doorstep. Bikers, dog walkers, boaters, and runners crowd the lakefront paths on warm days; in winter the lake is equally beautiful, with icy towers formed from frozen sheets of water.
Bike Along the Lakeshore
To bike any part of the gentle dips and swells of Chicago's 20-mile lakefront bicycle path is to see the city: the skyline, the people, the water. The breeze from the lake mixes with the sounds of the city at play as you zoom by, carefree, whiling away an afternoon.
The Chicago Park District (312/742-7529 www.chicagoparkdistrict.com) is a good source for bike maps.
For information on biking in the city, contact the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (9 W. Hubbard St., South Loop 312/427-3325 www.activetrans.org).
Bike and Roll Chicago (600 E. Grand Ave., Near North 312/729–1000 www.bikechicago.com) rents a vast array of bicycles—from mountain bikes to old-school beach cruisers—at nine locations around town (drop off at a different location for a $5 fee). Fees start at $10 per hour and $35 a day. It also offers lakefront, neighborhood, and nighttime bike, Segway, or electric bike tours for $39 to $59 (bike rental included), weather permitting.
You can rent a bike for the day or by the hour from On the Route (3144 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview 773/477-5066 www.ontheroute.com), which stocks a large inventory of bicycles, including children's bikes. They also supply helmets and other safety equipment.
Nothing beats the view of the Chicago skyline from the water, especially when the sun sets behind the sparkling skyscrapers. Plenty of boats are available to rent or charter, though you might want to leave the skippering to others if you're not familiar with Great Lakes navigation.
Sailboat lessons, rentals, and charters are available from Chicago Sailing (Belmont Harbor, Lakeview 773/871-7245 www.chicagosailing.com). Chicago Sailing focuses on sailing instruction for all levels and includes a program on keeping your boat in tip-top shape.
Sailboats, Inc. (Monroe Harbor, Loop 800/826-7010 www.sailboats-inc.com), one of the oldest charter-certification schools in the country, prepares its students to charter any type of boat.
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