If you are staying in the Windy City, taking a walk down the famous Lakefront trail must be on your to-do list.
This 18-mile (approx. 28km) long trail is one of the landmarks of Chicago and part of the identity of the city. It wouldn't be the same without it!
The paved path connects the North Side with the South Side, covering 13 neighborhoods that enjoy a beautiful lakefront location. Some of the most popular hoods include Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, South Loop, and Hyde Park.
Cycle don't drive
Chicago can be a difficult city to drive in – particularly during rush hour. Therefore, the trail officiates as one of the mains commuting areas for locals, who opt to cycle to work instead of being stuck in traffic. The trail is certainly the fastest way to move from one place to the other.
But the path is the perfect spot to run, walk, exercise and get an overview of the city.
Visitors can enjoy views of Lake Michigan on one side and green areas on the other side.
The vision of one man
The untouched trail remains intact thanks to Aaron Montgomery Ward and his will to keep the lakefront free from any properties being constructed. The story tells, he would sue anyone who tried to get in the middle of Daniel Burnham's original city plan for Chicago.
The main aim of the plan was that the lakefront should remain public ground, open to everyone and free from constructions.
It was not until 1909 that the Supreme Court of Illinois made these wishes official. The Lakefront trail has been public since then.
Across the trail, you will find four parks that enhance the views of the path. Lincoln Park is a 1208-acres green area home to five charming churches.
The Grant Park, partly developed by Ward, was founded back in 1836 when the city of Chicago started to be considered as one. It offers the best views of the skyline and works as a cultural center. Inside find the Art Institute of Chicago showcasing over 250 pieces of modern art. As well you'll see Ward's art collection spread around the park and the famous Buckingham Fountain. Every hour there is a show of water that goes up in the sky up to 150-feet. During the night music and lights tag along.
Elsewhere, in the route lookout for the Burnham Park and Jackson Park, the public beaches, temporary art installations, nature preserves, and the harbors.
In busy times of the day, it is estimated that around 30,000 people use the trail, including locals, tourists, and cyclists. In the summer weekends up to 100,000 were registered.
In 2017 a project of $12 million donated by billionaire Ken Griffin – a cyclist himself and founder of Citadel – was destined to create separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians. The project was expected to finish in 2019.