Editor's Choice: Chicago, Illinois

With killer farmers’ markets, quick access to adventure, and bike shares galore, these 17 towns redefine living well

chicago outside magazine best towns 2013

    Photo: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock.com

Between the art museums, architecture, professional sports teams, and restaurants, the city of 2.7 million (metro area: 9.7 million) has long been one of the best cultural cities in the world.

Guess what? It’s also one of the best places to be active.

Take the Lakefront Trail, which everyone from walkers to serious cyclists use to travel 18 miles along sandy beaches, from the Indiana state line up to Evanston. “It’s a little congested downtown,” says Nick Brand, assistant director at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an avid rider. “But north or south of the city, there are places you can fly.”

That’s to say nothing of the city’s substantial recreational leagues (hundreds of teams in every sport imaginable, from kickball to beach volleyball), the unrivaled Green City farmers’ market, and great runs like the Chicago Marathon. And while the traffic can rival L.A.’s, the city, which made waves a few years ago with its Green Roofs initiative, is well on its way to completing a 645-mile network of bike paths and protected lanes by 2020.

From Outside Magazine, Sep 2013 Get the Latest Issue

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