Bike Chicago Part 3 – Gorillas, Butterflies and Beaches

Chicago, Illinois is known by many nicknames such as “City within a Garden”, “Beirut by the Lake”, and “The Jewel of the Midwest” just to name a few.  While we have experienced a little bit of it all here, we’re discovering that there are many different sides to this urban oasis.

This past summer (August 2014) we spent two incredible weeks urban camping in the middle of the city, utilizing public transportation and cycling around this metropolis.  But, it was this final day that exposed the wild and natural side of Chicago that we really fell in love with.

The Route and Itinerary

The yellow route is Bike Chicago Part 1 and the green route is Bike Chicago Part 2 and the orange route is Bike Chicago Part 3.


10 am – Oak Street Beach is just one of the many beaches along the lakeshore trail that’s alluring. Luckily for us, it was too early for the restaurant to be open, otherwise, we may not have ever left those blue beach beds!  We were too busy trying hard to see everything which kept us from just spending a day lounging on the beach.  In hind site…how sad! Next time, a lazy day at the beach will most certainly be a part of our itinerary. There’s a top notch cafe on the south end of the park, near South Pond, that looked absolutely fantastic…I so wish we had more time to dine (because we love food as much as we do nature).



12 pm – Lincoln Park Zoo is a unique and spectacular FREE zoo.  Not only is it one of the only free zoos in the country, it’s also one of the oldest that dates all the way back to 1868.  They’re super big on education and conservation which makes it a great place for kids. It’s also incredibly beautiful with the old entry gates and yet the casual vibe and beautiful park like settings make it a place worthy of an entire day.  Just make sure to plan on being there early so you can see the animals when they are most active.  As you can see, noon is nap time.





2 pm – When we headed over to the Peggy Notebaert Museum of Nature we had no idea what we were in for.  We thought we were going to check out the Butterfly Haven (and it was the highlight) but we didn’t realize just how much more there was to this little museum.  Take the time to really tour the whole facility, learn about the sustainability efforts, listen to the birds in the gardens and check out the bee populations on the roof.  Oh yea, it’s incredibly kid friendly if you’re travellin’ with little ones!










6 pm – Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder was recommended by a lot of you and I have to say, despite the crazy huge portions and overdose of carbs, it was awesome. The food was good but it was more the history and old school ambiance that made this place worthy of the stop.  The brownstone building that houses the restaurant has quite the tale. From being across the street from where the notorious St. Valentines Day Massacre happened to its own fire that left nothing but the frame behind. It’s a classic.





Why City Bikes?

The summer weather was so perfect we had absolutely no desire to be stuck in a car, much less traffic, dealing with expensive parking lots and so on!  Plus, these city bikes are cheap and convenient with no hassle or worry of having to find secure places to park our personal bikes. For a more detailed answer to this question and a few tips on using the DIVVY Bikes, you’ll find that in Bike Chicago Part 1.

Looking back on all of these experiences made us remember we had an amazing time and loved that we had the chance to explore so much of the city. On the other hand I also feel like we possibly crammed a little too much into each day. The wild thing is we spent two whole weeks and I still feel like we needed more time. Then again, I feel that way about most places we visit.

If you are headed to Chicago, make sure to check out part 1 and part 2 for more adventures, tips and info on the city bikes. We also have posts, videos and info from our experiences at Lollapalooza and tips on the best place to park an RV in the city.

Have you been to Chicago? Tell us your favorite stops, tips and travel stories in the comments below! I know we’ll be back.

A big thanks to Choose Chicago for hosting us and helping plan a realistic daily itinerary.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (9)

  • Sean Rafferty

    Hi Guys, really enjoy your videos and photography. In the Chicago videos I kept noticing Jason was sporting a full tripod (camera mounted) on his back. I’ve tired to cycle with my tripod (messenger bag style) but have yet to find a comfortable set up. Any chance you would share an image of the backpack/tripod set up? Thanks for considering and have a great day 🙂

  • Rhonda

    Now you’ve gone and done it. Chicago was our best kept secret. We think it’s the most beautiful city in the world.

  • Chris Williams

    “Do we deserve a beer?” “…Uh, yeah!” LOL, great video Nikki & Jason!

  • BoxinThecompass

    I have been succesfully dieting but those food pics made me quite a bit peckish…

    And the animals in the zoo made me a tad sleeeeepppyyyy …. zzzzzzzz

  • I’ve been to Lincoln Park Zoo, but I don’t remember seeing the butterfly house. During the summer I grow milkweed and hatch monarch caterpillars and then release them when they turn into butterflies. It’s so fascinating and fulfilling because monarchs are getting rare here in Tennessee.

  • Michelle Dahlin

    Well that settles it! Next summer…top of my travel list = Chicago! Thanks for the beautiful videos. You two do an amazing job of presenting every location you visit.

  • Bruce Kane

    What a great tour of the city, thanks for posting, and the food, I had to get a napkin while I watched you guys tackle lunch, Now I have to go and try it out.


Post a Comment