Chicago Lakefront: A Runner's Paradise
Local athletes are spoiled with choices for running routes in the city and suburbs, but the 18-mile stretch of lakefront path — which includes water fountains and mile markers — on each mile is a no-brainer for great training.
Chicago Riverwalk1 of 13
I would suggest starting your morning run heading east along the Chicago Riverwalk, which is near the intersection of Upper Wacker Drive and LaSalle Street. Fair warning: The views to your left of trendy condos and restaurants may cause daydreams of a life of luxury.
Navy Pier2 of 13
You will continue running about a mile until you reach the bike/running path, greeted by a view of Navy Pier in the distance.
Columbia Yacht Club3 of 13
Follow the paved path to the right (you'll be near the 8-mile marker once you cross the small bridge) and about a quarter mile later you'll see the Columbia Yacht Club on your left. Here you will be right next to the water, and this stretch is definitely a highlight of your run.
Lake Views4 of 13
As you run south along the path, you're never short of gorgeous views. The sun shimmers off the lake most mornings on your left, while on the right the world is starting to wake up and commuters — with coffee mugs in hand — gaze out at you longingly. You'll just start settling into your run at this point, coming up on two miles.
Buckingham Fountain5 of 13
The path is flat and fast, and besides keeping your eye out for the fast-moving cyclists, there is plenty of opportunity to take in the scenery and fresh lakefront air. As you hit mile marker 9 near Buckingham Fountain, the Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" tune (also the theme from Married with Children) may be stuck in your head for at least another mile.
Field Museum6 of 13
Another mile, another two major Chicago landmarks to take in. Follow the path as it curves to the left near the Field Museum (founded in 1893) and Shedd Aquarium, built by the former President of Marshall Field & Co., John G. Shedd, to give back to the city that made him a success.
Shedd Aquarium7 of 13
Make sure to put Shedd Aquarium on your to-visit list.
Chicago Skyline8 of 13
Rounding the curve by mile marker 9.5, you'll be able to turn around and look back north to see one of the most breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. You're a bit away from the bustle of Lake Shore Drive at this point in the run, and as you head farther south, you'll see fewer people and more greenspace.
Soldier Field9 of 13
At mile marker 10, you'll have run under a small underpass and past the Chicago Police Foundation Memorial. To your right, you'll be able to see Soldier Field (home of Da Bearsssssss), but you'll have to venture off the path to get a really good look. If you're running on the path on game day, be prepared for some cheers from the tailgaters as you cruise by. One of the best things about Chicago running is that you never know what kind of characters you'll come across. On the weekends in early fall, everyone is out trying to enjoy the last of the warmer weather!
Chicago Running10 of 13
It's about time to turn around once McCormick Place comes into view, otherwise you'll be putting in some major mileage. Turning back at mile marker 10.5 will give you more than six miles total.
If you go farther south on the path, you'll encounter more nature and fewer people. It can be very peaceful up past 31st Street Beach leading into the Hyde Park area, former home of President Barack Obama. There are also flat, fast bike paths to follow all the way off the path, into the South Shore neighborhood and beyond, but you can save that for another day.
Heading back North, the city will really be coming alive and hopefully by now, you're in a comfortable groove. You'll pass lots of smiling faces on the roughly three miles back to your starting point.
Back to the Riverwalk11 of 13
Once you reach the Riverwalk again with a mile to go, I encourage you to veer slightly left and charge up the ramp instead of taking the stairs. Think of it as an energy boost to start your day.
Run and Done12 of 13
Check out the full route on MapMyRun. May you enjoy your run along beautiful Lake Michigan!