Turf and Surf: car-free fun by land and lake


Todd on the sailboat American Excess.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]

It always bugs me when people say Chicago’s a great city but complain that there’s no access to natural beauty or outdoor adventure here. True, there are no mountains or saltwater for hundreds of miles, but we have ocean-like Lake Michigan close at hand, making this one of the few major U.S. cities where you can work in a skyscraper and easily take your lunch break on a sandy beach.

And this is great place to live if you want to commune with nature without polluting the environment to get there. The South Shore Line electric railroad takes you directly from Millennium Park to the campgrounds of the picturesque Indiana Dunes. The bicycle-friendly Metra commuter rail system means that you can get to state parks likes Illinois Beach, Fox Lake and Kettle Moraine via a relaxing train ride plus a bit of pedaling, instead of fighting traffic jams. And since this is the nation’s rail hub, and Amtrak lines within the state accept un-boxed bikes, it’s easy to take a journey in the mountain-like hills of Southern Illinois or along the mighty Mississippi. So having a good time in the great outdoors near Chicago is really just a matter of attitude.

Continue reading Turf and Surf: car-free fun by land and lake