Top Ten Chicago Getaways

By Peter Strazzabosco
If summer was a horse race, you could say we're spinning out of the turn. But summer's not a horse race. It's a season and it will be over soon. Try these ideas before we get to the home stretch--I mean September.
  1. Head North
    Get out of Dodge by visiting Yankee Springs Recreation Area in Middleville, MI, a virtual Holy Land for Midwest mountain bikers. The park's 12-mile trail system has nice hills, trees, and rustic camping, making for a great Michigan getaway. Call 616-795-9081.
  2. Bring Snacks
    Stay in town and head to Grant Park (500 S. Columbus) for the City of Chicago's free outdoor screenings of Hollywood movie classics. Shows start at 8 p.m. every Wednesday. The lineup includes: Aug. 7, Auntie Mame; Aug. 14, The Maltese Falcon; Aug. 21, A Patch of Blue; and Aug. 28, Meet Me in St. Louis.
  3. Nice Visuals
    While you're in Grant Park, stop by timeless Buckingham Fountain. Even if it's your hundredth visit, the fountain (built in 1927 and outfitted with more than 820 lights and 134 water jets) is always satisfying. In fact, it's so cool it might be better than the movie.
  4. Aim High
    Check out the 43rd Annual Chicago Air and Water Show along the lakefront on August 18 and 19. The show is the oldest and largest free-admission event of its kind in the United States, featuring civilian and military aircraft and watercraft from around the world. Or skip the lakefront altogether and watch the planes from your porch.
  5. Thrash, Baby
    Get yourself out to the city's newest portable skateboard facility at Warren Park (6601 N. Western Avenue). Opened this summer, the one-acre park has a couple dozen ramps, stairs, and ledges for boarders and skaters of all abilities. Bonus: it's free.
  6. Who Needs the Suburbs?
    Also free are 21 new waterparks that have recently opened in parks across town. With waterjets, slides, sprinklers, and other features to keep kids cool, they'll be perfect when August really gets cooking. If your local park doesn't have one, call 312-742-PLAY for locations.
  7. Sacre Bleu!
    Time-travel to the mid-18th century and visit St. Charles Fort, an authentic link to France's doomed effort to take over North America. Originally built in 1720 on the banks of the Mississippi, the rebuilt fort, in Prairie du Rocher, retains portions of original structures, including a powder magazine, today considered the oldest building in Illinois. Call 618-284-7230.
  8. Cubs Who?
    Don't like history but really dig the national pastime? Save yourself a buck or two and see the minor-league Schaumburg Flyers or Kane County Cougars, who play big-time baseball without the big-league prices. Game times are listed in the dailies.
  9. No Boat Required
    Rock bass have been virtually jumping out of the city's eight boat harbors for much of the summer. See for yourself using light line, soft shells, and minnows. Don't forget your fishing license.
  10. Make a Splash
    Grab your mask and fins and go snorkeling in Lake Michigan. Average water temperatures are above 70 degrees, making for a balmy way to check out fish, crayfish, mussels, and surprisingly little garbage under the surface. A good place to dive is outside Montrose Harbor, east side, where the rocks meet the breakwall.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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