Summertime in Chicago is glorious! Between the endless horizon of water, historic old neighborhoods, street art, world famous architectural designs, top notch music events and endless gourmet food options Chicago, Illinois is one of those places you could visit a thousand times and still not see it all.
We spent two very full weeks urban camping smack-dab in the middle of the city this past summer (August 2014) trying to strike a balance between being a tourist and acting like a local. In all our exploring and Lollapaloozaing I think we used our car twice. With the weather being perfect and traffic being a b****, we quickly learned the best way to get around the windy city was either on the Metra or our preferred method, a bike via the lakefront trail!
So grab your camelback and comfy shoes because this is the first of a 3 part series where we cycle around some of Chicago’s best destinations.
What did you think? We really love city bikes and have utilized them all over the world. It always seems to add an extra element of fun, especially when it’s a super bike friendly city (I’m looking at you Copenhagen)! However, if you have your own bikes and prefer to use them…go for it, just leave the car behind or you’re likely to waste hours stuck in traffic or searching for affordable parking.
The Route & Itinerary
Use the interactive map to see each of our stops. The yellow route is Bike Chicago Part 1 and the green route is Bike Chicago Part 2.
10:00 am – Bike from McCormick Place along the Lakeshore Trail to Hyde Park.
- The McCormick Place Parking Lot is the only place that we know of that allows RV’s overnight parking. If you want to explore the city this is the best place to park it. It’s not pretty but it is convenient! The 18th street lot is very close to the Metra, bus stop and a divvy bike station.
11:30 am – Medici for a leisurely lunch. A friendly neighborhood cafe where it’s BYOB with a quaint outside coffee shop and bakery.
2:00 pm – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. We take a tour of a beautiful example of both the prairie style and modern architecture designed over a hundred years ago.
3:00 pm – University of Chicago. This is the perfect place to go for a walkabout. The campus is beautiful with gardens all around and buildings loaded with character!
5:00 pm – Flyboarding!!! We hit the 31st street harbor for one of the most unique boarding experiences we’ve ever had: combining a wakeboard with jet powered water!
7:00 pm – Happy hour at home.
Why City Bikes?
When we visited Chicago we were in-between owning bikes. We had just sold our mountain bikes and had not yet purchased our more travel friendly folding bikes. But even if we would’ve had our own bikes we still would have used the DIVVY bikes instead of our own. Why? Because this is a big flippin’ city with a lot to take in and the last thing we wanted to be concerned with is finding a safe spot to lock up our ride, someone stealing the wheels, seat or even the whole bike. This way we could pick our little blue bikes up when needed and drop them off when we didn’t. No fuss, no muss.
A few tips on Divvy Bikes
- Divvy Bikes operate on a 24hr pass (currently $7) and you have unlimited 30-minute trips with each day pass. Sadly, this means you have to take a quick swap break if you’re riding longer distances or be prepared to pay some additional charges. Our trip from our urban camping spot to Hyde Park was exactly a 30 min ride. We purposely rode fast to avoid stopping half way to exchange bikes. Its not a big deal but it does take a couple of minutes and is something to keep in mind as you’re riding about town.
- Download the mobile app. The app maps out where bike stations are, how many bikes are available and how many empty return slots there are, its all “real-time” and based on GPS so it’s extremely easy to use even if you don’t know your way around town.
- Make sure to read over the Chicago bike laws and tips on the DIVVY website before you head out on your first trip. It’s all pretty basic but it’s nice to know exactly how the kiosks work before you get there. https://www.divvybikes.com/
Have you ever used city bikes or have a favorite bike friendly city? Do you have some Chicago faves we should know about? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I have a good feeling we’ll be back soon!
Thanks to Choose Chicago for hosting us and helping plan a realistic daily itinerary.