Some ride recommendations from Chicago Parent...
Is it cliché to mention? Yes. Is there a reason it’s cliché? Yes. The Lakefront Trail continues to improve for cyclists and can be a great place for beginners and families looking for great city views and continued access to the city and lake at large. For thinner crowds, start around the Museum Campus and head south.
While The 606 is becoming as cliché to mention as the Lakefront Path, this 2.7-mile elevated rail conversion path offers unprecedented access to the western neighborhood parks and amenities with access points and ramps available about every quarter mile. Available for all riders of all abilities, a day on The 606 is sure to provide a great urban riding adventure.
She also mentions the Prairie Path and Des Plaines River Trail. Here's the full article:
I agree, I think all of these are good suggestions. I'd add a few more:
Lincoln Park - No one seems to know about all of the little paths and trails around the park - it's pretty quiet and just a beautiful place to ride. And in the summer, you can bring your locks, stop at the zoo, LP Conservatory, butterfly museum (Peggy N.) and many little spots all over the park.
North Branch Trail - Might be a bit too ambitious to take the kids all the way up to Botanical Gardens but there's a lot of great riding and with the extension, it's a perfect place to ride nearby the city.
North Channel Trail - I feel like this is a best kept secret in our city. You can take it North and this fairly sleepy trail brings you to the sculpture garden in Skokie. I used to use it on my commute to Skokie and loved how quiet it is. Just watch out for those baseball games - little kids running around by the trail so it's best to slow down near the games.
What would you add?
Years ago I led some kids rides for Evanston Bike Club. We would start at Panera Bread in Wilmette. Ride north on the Green Bay Trail to Harbor. This would mean crossing a few streets that required adults and navigating past Sears School. On the way back at kenilworth Ave. we would briefly cross Green Bay Rd and ride just south to take a stop for ice cream and perhaps lunch at Homers. We would return to the trail for the short ride back towards Panera. There is free parking on weekends nearby as Panera is by the Wilmette Metra stop. The ride is especially fun for kids when the trains ramble by. The entire ride is about 9 miles. With older kids you can continue past Harbor and ride up towards the Glencoe station through neighborhoods that are easy to navigate and off of big streets.
Thanks for sharing! I forgot about Green Bay Trail. That's a good one!
Of course, ice cream is always a good idea. :-)
The Valley Line trail is a good place to ride. It starts in the city at Bryn Mawr at 4400 W. From there you can go North to lots of fun, kid friendly places in Lincolnwood and Skokie. There are lots of parks adjacent to the trail in Lincolnwood, and when you get to Skokie there is the Exploritorium, Emily Oaks Nature Center and the pools for both communities. Our destination when we rode recently was "Aw Yeah Comics" in downtown Skokie, which was awesome for a 7 y.o. (Ok, I didn't mind either.)
Also, when you're all done this trail is really close to Alarmist Brewing, which is kid-friendly, bicycle friendly, and great for cooling off.
(Lincolnwood has a smallish BMX/skate park just over the city limits near Springfield and Devon; it is not on Google Maps though!)
Great ideas. Thanks Brian!
So many fun destinations by bike too...
What did I miss?