Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Chicago Lakefront Path (South) & Riverwalk
Our world famous, world class lakefront is quintessential Chicago and a glorious place to spend a day. This ride covers the less crowded southern section that’s just as beautiful, safe and scenic as its northern counterpart. We start at the new Chicago Riverwalk because it links the two waterways that define Chicago. Also, the riverwalk is sure to please and surprise since it keeps getting extended and improved.
Mostly flat paved paths with occasional bumps and cracks.
A few busy street-crossings with cars turning in and out of lakefront parks.
This ride is easy to get to by transit. By “L” there’s the Red Line to Lake; Blue Line to Clark/Lake; and Brown, Purple, Pink, Green or Orange lines to State/Lake. Several CTA buses and Metra lines serve the area, as well.
By car, exit Lake Shore Drive at Wacker Drive and drive to Wabash Avenue. Several parking facilities ring the start point.
Food and Drink
Umpteen food and drink options. Try to hold out for Cyrano’s Café and Wine Bar, a charming outdoor restaurant on the riverwalk near the end of the ride. Your 22 miles of biking will be well rewarded.
Plan your day around Sunday brunch at the Parrot Cage Restaurant in the South Shore Cultural Center or take a rest near the end of the ride with a tour boat, several of which leave from Museum Campus and the riverwalk.
While the northern section of the Chicago Lakefront Path is notoriously crowded on summer weekends, the southern section is refreshingly uncrowded. As such, the joggers, skaters, walkers and cyclists here seem friendlier and less aggressive. This ride is guaranteed to provide a good workout, but it’s also stress free and relaxing. The path is well maintained, beautifully landscaped and lined with trees, flowers and statuary through a stunning parade of parks: Millennium, Grant, Burnham and Jackson.
The only problem you’re likely to have is a desire to stop all along the way at museums, parks, lookouts, bird sanctuaries, beaches, boat rides and historical spots. Don’t race; enjoy the sights and sites. One highlight is the Museum Campus, home to the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium. Farther south, the Museum of Science and Industry has a magnetic pull. And Promontory Point Park offers some of the best views of the city.
One reward for biking the entire ride is seeing the South Shore Cultural Center, an underappreciated treasure built in 1916 as a private country club and purchased in 1975 by the Chicago Park District with plans to demolish it.
Fortunately, the opulent building (which includes a restaurant, theater, art gallery and elegant colonnade) was restored and granted Chicago Landmark status. In 1992, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama held their wedding reception here. The center is open to the public. While the lakefront is a great place to enjoy Chicago’s natural beauty, the Chicago Riverwalk is a great place to take in the city’s magnificent architecture, canyons of skyscrapers and boat traffic.
This relatively new attraction keeps getting better as the city keeps extending it westward and adding new attractions, restaurants, seating areas and activities. Save time at the beginning or end of the ride to visit the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum at Michigan Avenue, which offers information on the history of the river and a rare view of the inner workings of Chicago’s bridges.
35.126 km / 21.826 mi
143 m / 470 ft
143 m / 470 ft
185 m / 608 ft