Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Chicago Lakefront Path (North)
The stunningly beautiful and strikingly busy Lakefront Path is one of Chicago’s greatest assets and one of the nicest urban bike rides in the world. This is the main event, a showcase for Chicago and a testament to the wisdom of our city planners who insisted on keeping the lakefront “forever free and clear.”
Well-maintained paved path, but don’t be surprised to run into repair work, which appears frequently.
Very little. There are a few street crossings that give cars access to the park; on all but a couple of them, bikes have the right of way, but don’t count on getting it!
Take the CTA Red Line to Grand and the CTA #65 Grand bus to Navy Pier. Other buses also serve Navy Pier, including #29 State, #66 Chicago and #124 Navy Pier.
By car, exit Lake Shore Drive at Erie Street and turn left on Illinois Street, following signs for Navy Pier, where there’s usually ample parking.
Food and Drink
Too many options to list. You’ll find everything you need along this ride.
Check out the Chicago History Museum at North Avenue and Clark Street, one block west of the lakefront. Start or end your day at Navy Pier, Chicago’s most popular tourist destination.
Bike Chicago at Navy Pier. Bike and Roll at the North Avenue Beach House. And Lakeshore Bike Rental 4.8 miles into the ride.
The path hugs the lakefront, passing parks, beaches, harbors, restaurants, ball fields, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, floor hockey rink, gym, skating park, ice skating rink (in the winter), sculptures, restored prairies, bird sanctuaries and so on. You’ll even see palm trees along the way, but only for about half the year, until the trees are taken indoors for the winter. And all along the way, you will enjoy great views of the lake and skyline.
With so much to do, the path is often very crowded. Watch out for skaters, kids, dog walkers, beachgoers, etc., some of whom won’t be paying attention to their immediate surroundings. And with so much to do, don’t be in a hurry. In addition consider visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory or the little known but blissfully peaceful Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool on Fullerton Avenue between Stockton Drive and Lake Shore Drive. Meanwhile, Navy Pier offers great shopping, a variety of restaurants, a Ferris wheel, skate and bike rentals, various sorts of boat rides, Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Of course, you could combine the northern and southern sections for a total roundtrip ride of about 38 miles, but if you do be prepared to share a crowded sidewalk along the lower level of a noisy bridge for a couple of blocks in the middle of the ride. Often this trail will be used for a triathlon, charity walk, bike ride or some such event. Plus, there are times when ice, water, sand or construction can block the way.
Therefore, make a habit of checking Lakefront Trail Conditions on the Active Transportation Alliance under Resources. But don’t let the winter keep you away. This trail gets plowed! Finally, despite the umpteen organized and commercial activities along the lakefront, remember that you can just “jump in the lake” to cool off during a long hot ride.
12.158 km / 7.554 mi
86 m / 283 ft
85 m / 280 ft
184 m / 603 ft