Located east of Lakeshore Drive, the Chicago Lakefront Trail is an 18.5-mile linear park along Lake Michigan that includes beaches, volleyball courts, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The trail unites a variety of neighborhoods, including South Shore, Hyde Park, Lincoln Park and Lake View, and serves as both a recreational and transportation resource.
The Chicago Lakefront Trail also provides direct access to a number of amenities popular with locals and tourists alike, and thus is often crowded on warm days. Some of the notable cultural landmarks along the way include: the Museum of Science and Industry; the Field Museum of Natural History; Shedd Aquarium; Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum; the Chicago Children’s Museum; the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum; and the South Shore Cultural Center.
Other popular destinations along the trail include Lincoln Park and its famous zoo; Soldier Field (home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears); McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America; the sprawling Burnham, Grant and Jackson parks; and Belmont and Monroe harbors.
Chicago’s Navy Pier, home to the Chicago Shakespeare Museum and the famous Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, is probably the most congested point on the trail, but is well worth a visit.
Parking is available at nearly all of the parks along the trail, on city streets and at paid parking garages. Note that it will be difficult to find free parking during peak times, such as on warm weekend days.