Oh my goodness – what an absolutely gorgeous day it was yesterday on the north shore. From sunrise to sunset the skies were blue and the sun brilliantly shined. Remnants of winter still remain – the chill in the air and the lack of green landscape are constant reminders that spring has yet yet to be sprung this far north. But that is the beauty of the earth’s rotation – we know the warmth and vibrancy associated with spring and summer are on the horizon.
We live in Fort Sheridan military housing, which has nestled within the Highwood and Highland Park communities. Considered the northern Chicago suburbs, the communities along Lake Michigan in Lake County comprise the area known as the North Shore (e.g. not the Hawaii one). We have access to hundreds of miles of bike trails from our house so with the temperature reaching 60º yesterday, we excitedly set out for our first family bike ride of 2021.
Our ride was a little over 20 miles, which was the furthest our kids have gone on their bikes. Our goal is to build their endurance over the spring and summer and see how far we can reasonably go as a family with an 11-year-old and 7-year-old. We started on the Robert McClory Bike Path, which is down the street from our house and primarily follows the route of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railford. We rode briefly along the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve before hopping on the Robert McClory Bike Path.
From there, we switched over to the North Branch Trail, which took us through the Ravinia Festival (it is the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States…fingers-crossed it will be open this summer), Turnbull Woods and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Access to the trail through the famed garden is free with accessible gates at Lake Cook Road and Dundee Road during the daylight hours (view a map of the Chicago Botanic Garden bike path here).
We didn’t get a chance to explore the Chicago Botanic Garden when we moved here late last summer due COVID-restricted reservations – so we look forward to spending more time here on our bikes as the weather continues to warm up.
We then went through the Skokie Lagoons, which has seven interconnected lagoons. We look forward to kayaking there in the future and exploring the marshland. We opted to forgo making the trip a loop by not getting on the Green Bay Trail and instead turning around and going back the way we came. We were getting hungry so we had a destination in mind on the way back to our house.
We stopped for beers (sodas for the kids) and tacos at Ravinia Brewing Company. I went with Four Shore, their Belgian-style white ale, and Clay had the Steep Ravine IPA. After finishing our late lunch, we biked the last few miles home.
Biking as a family was an amazing way to spend the first Sunday of Spring in the northern Chicago suburbs. I will never regret spending time outdoors and being active with our kids. Research has shown that biking is excellent for mental health and the physical benefits are numerous too. So if your kids are the only ones with bikes in the garage, I highly recommend investing in some nice bikes for the adults. And nice doesn’t have to equal expensive – check out your local bike shop and see what used bikes are available.
Do you bike as a family?