Chicago, Illinois

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, tonight is your answer."
- Victory speech of President-Elect Barack Obama, given from a podium in Grant Park in Chicago

Once upon a time, Chicago was a city best known for its meatpacking facilities, its shady political machines, and its hapless baseball teams. Today it is a place where all things are possible. This shining Midwestern city is an economic, cultural, and innovative powerhouse of America. You'll sense its creative energy as you stroll among the skyscrapers lining the Chicago River, wander among the postmodern artworks of Millennium Park, or escape the urban atmosphere for the shores of Lake Michigan.

If it's an active escape you crave, Chicago is one of the best running cities in the United States. Go to the lakeshore and you'll figure out why. An endless, exquisite bicycle and pedestrian path stretches the length of Lake Michigan. Among the first-class amenities along the eighteen-mile stretch are distance markers, water fountains, bathroom stops, bicycle rental facilities, historical monuments, and gorgeous views of Chicago Harbor and the dynamic cityscape. Cyclists, rollerbladers, walkers, and most certainly runners regularly frequent this stretch at many times of day, and almost all days of the week. Despite the risk of weekend crowds, the Chicago lakeside is overall a practically perfect place to run.

Watch Out For: 
  • Distance: The Lakefront Run is a classic out-and-backer, but just don't get lost in the scenery and the skyline and head too far out. Our Blaze researcher's six-mile run turned into a ten-miler when she got distracted by the sailboats.
  • Mile-Markers: The Lakefront path is regularly marked for distance-conscious runners, but beware - there are actually two sets of mile markers along the route. Although both sets are accurate (to the best of BTG's knowledge), track your progress on only one of the two sets provided.
  • Ice: In the winter, the curve of the path around Oak Street Beach tends to get icy. Tread carefully in that area, or avoid that stretch entirely during snowy months.
  • Hot Air: See "Did you know?"

Did you know? While known as the "Windy City," Chicago's nickname doesn't come from its climate. During the nineteenth century city politicians could not stop crowing about how great their city was. Their boasts eared Chicago its windy designation after the rest of the world decided they were full of hot air.