South Of The Loop_SOTL_Chicago_South Side_On Bike_Outdoors

the great outdoors

  • Originally a railroad yard.

  • Ping Tom Memorial Park is named for the Chinatown resident who was the leading force behind the creation of this community green space.

  • A perfect picnic destination.

  • Accessible by public transit.​

  • Designed by famous landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

  • Today, the 500-plus-acre park offers golf, baseball, a fitness center, basketball, a playground, tennis courts and paths for walking, jogging or biking.

  • A prime picnic destination.

  • Reggies at 63rd beach.

  • Originally an early 20th century country club, this gorgeous property was acquired by the Chicago Park District in 1975 and lovingly restored.

  • Beach with beautiful skyline views and recently renovated beach house.

  • The grounds include a nature sanctuary, golf course, butterfly garden and plenty of beautifully maintained open spaces—making It the perfect backdrop for an impromptu picnic.

  • Located on the Lake Shore between Jackson Park (to the south) and Grant Park (to the north).

  • Beautiful trees can be seen pretty much anywhere within this vast green space.

  • Previously part of the US Steel Complex known as South Works, the Chicago Park District acquired the 16.5-acre site in 2002 to develop a new park.

  • This park features a community rock climbing wall built on the historic ore wall of the Steelworks industry. 

  • Now an attractive landscape with natural areas, trees, walking paths and exquisite views of Lake Michigan.

  • Calumet Park totals 181.70 acres and features two gymnasiums, fitness center, Lake Shore Model Train exhibit, gymnastic center, sewing and upholstery studios, woodshop, and multi-purpose rooms.

  • Outside, the park offers a beach, boat launch, an artificial soccer turf, picnic groves, playground, softball, football, and soccer fields.

  • Calumet Park developed slowly, and was not completed until the 1930s.

  • The name Calumet comes from the Norman-French word for pipe, "chamulet." Early French explorers who traded with local Native Americans used the term in reference to their "peace pipes."

  • It features a dog friendly area.

  • Named after cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, who set world records and broke racial barriers in competition in the late 1800's.

  • Beginning in the Dan Ryan Woods at 81st street, this path winds through forest preserves, parks and neighborhoods on Chicago's far South Side.

  • The Major Taylor Trail goes south to 95th street, at which point it follows on-street bike lanes until resuming an off-street route at 105th street running through West Pullman, Beverly and Morgan Park. 

  • The path ends in The Whistler Woods Forest Preserve, just across the Little Calumet River.

  • For an afternoon of history, wander among quiet lakes and tree-studded grounds to check out the burial sites.

  • This 184-acre cemetery in Greater Grand Crossing has been around since 1854.

  • Serves as the final resting place for dozens of famous Americans, including : journalist Ida B. Wells, former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, olympic athlete Jesse Owens and other familiar names.

  • Controversially the cemetery is also home to the Confederate Mound, a mass grave and memorial paying tribute to confederate POWs from the Civil War era.

  • Is spending the day with the dead not your jam? check out these outdoor spots instead.

  • Newly renovated beach house.

  • South Shore Beach is part of the South Shore Cultural Center, which is considered to be the jewel of the neighborhood. 

  • Skyline city views. 

  • South Shore Natural Area is 6 acres of dune, wetland, woodland, prairie, savanna and shrubland habitats within South Shore Park.

  • One of the best skyline views in town, Promontory Point is a popular destination for sun-bathers, sunset-watchers and picnickers alike.

  • Pro tip : The massive stones that line the Lakefront park make for the perfect impromptu kitchen table—find a stable spot to sit down before unpacking your alfresco feast.

  • A man-made peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan.

  • You can admire a dense bank of aspens and maples.

  • Calumet Beach offers beach goers a chance to escape the heat by enjoying the cool waters of Lake Michigan during the summer months.

  • Beach season begins the Friday before Memorial weekend and ends on Labor Day.

  • The 63rd Street Beach House is an elegant Classical Revival style pavilion.

  • Completed in 1919, the elegant exposed-aggregate concrete building takes full benefit of Lake Michigan with its open balconies and loggias. 

  • A natural area provides much needed habitat for migrating birds in the spring and fall seasons.

  • Distance swimming is located at 64th Street, parallel to shore between 1st and 3rd buoys.

  • The historic beach house also offers beach goers amenities that include restrooms, interactive water fountains, showers, and meeting rooms. The beach house is available to rent. 

  • Kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized board or paddle sports is allowed at the south end of 63rd Street Beach.

  • Considering that raw sewage was dumped into Lake Michigan at that time, it is not surprising that the beaches were used as paved drives for strolling or promenading, rather than wading or bathing. In 1899, when the completion of Chicago’s innovative Drainage Canal began diverting the sewage to other locations, the lakefront became a desirable place for public bathing.

  • Rainbow Beach  totals 60.98 acres and features a gymnasium, fitness center and multipurpose rooms, handball courts, and one of the oldest community gardens in Chicago.

  • Named for the U.S. Army's 42nd Rainbow Division that fought gallantly in World War I.

  • By 1912, the heavily used beach had bathrooms and changing rooms. Illuminated by electric lights, the beach remained open until 9:30 p.m. for the benefit of working men and women.

  • In 1914, the city began efforts to expand the beach, and soon acquired land between 75th Street and Rocky Ledge Beach. The City Council officially named the new site Rainbow Beach in 1918.

  • The two beaches were consolidated in 1959.

  • In 1999 the Chicago Park District constructed a large field house.

  • Designed by David Woodhouse Architects, the field house takes full advantage of Rainbow Beach and park breathtaking views of the lakefront and skyline.

  • A natural area located at the northeast end of the beach includes 9.18 acres of dune habitat.

  • Distance swimming is available parallel to shore at boat line.

  • Since the turn of the century, the 57th Street Beach has been used by generations of Chicagoans.

  • In 1993, the Chicago Park District constructed a new beach house for the beach, and beach-goers can enjoy a beautiful view of the city skyline.

  • Grill in designated areas only and dispose of coals in red barrels.
    Sports such as kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized board or paddle sports are allowed at the north end of 57th Street Beach.

  • Distance swimming area: parallel to shore from 55th St. south to pier.

  • Just across from the Museum Of Science & Industry.

  • Noted for restoration project that brought bison back to the land Midewin has about 22 miles of mixed-use trails shared by hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

  • 19,000-acre National Forest Service prairie in Wilmington, IL.

  • On site features Include : campgrounds with cabins, electricity and more amenities are available.

  • A popular spot for fishing, canoeing, hiking and mushroom hunting.

  • A treasured area for centuries, originally occupied by the Illini and Miami tribes in the 17th century.

  • The park surrounds the river for about 11 miles, totaling to 4,000 acres of land.

  • Has 11 miles of mapped trails shared by hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and, when weather permits, cross-country skiers.

  • Hikers can also explore a handful of unmarked foot paths.
    Licensed fishers can try their luck in a number of old quarries scattered throughout the area.

  • 2,500-acre preserve located in southern DuPage County.