The Active Cities Guide to Chicago

The deep-dish pizza might get all the love, but there's plenty to keep you active in the windy city. Here's our guide to the best of it.

Chicago may not be famous for its beaches, but you can't beat seeing that skyline on a run.     Photo: benkrut/Getty Images

Trail Run

  Photo: Annemod/Flickr

Des Plaines River Trail

This 55-miler meanders alongside the Des Plaines River through forested open spaces and the heart of the northern burbs. 

Work Out

  Photo: Courtesy of East Bank Club

East Bank Club

This gym is massive and has exercise classes—from yoga to indoor track cycling—every 30 minutes during peak morning and evening periods. Bonus: the outdoor pool deck has a bar. From $25 per day

Road Bike/Run

  Photo: Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr

Lakefront Trail

The 18-mile paved path goes through downtown along the edge of Lake Michigan. To up the distance, continue north for six miles to Northwestern University’s campus.

Explore

  Photo: Jamie McCaffrey/Flickr

Chicago River

Rent a kayak and glide through a canyon of skyscrapers. Wateriders rents by the hour and leads evening tours. From $20.

Swim

  Photo: MD111/Flickr

Portage Park and Lake Michigan

On the northwest side of town, Portage Park has an Olympic-size outdoor pool (one-month pass, $25), but we prefer Lake Michigan at Ohio Street Beach, a triathlete favorite.

Stay

  Photo: The Wit Hotel Chicago

TheWit

This 310-room hotel is in the heart of downtown, just a few blocks from Millenium Park’s running trails. Its open-air rooftop bar draws a crowd of locals on warm nights. From $269.

Gear Up

  Photo: Panu Tangchalermkul/Flickr

Nike Chicago

Located on the city’s Magnificent Mile, the megastore has Thursday night training runs with multiple distances and provides free gear storage.

  Photo: WBEZ/Flickr

Bobby’s Bike Hike

You can rent a bombproof commuter bike for $7 a day. But for, say, a GTR Carbon Elite with Shimano 105 components, reserve online with Bobby’s Bike Hike (from $65 per day).

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