Most of my outdoor time is spent in rural areas. I’m sure that many of us think of natural settings and urban settings as polar opposites, yet that is not always the case.
I have ventured into Chicago four or five times in the last year.
On several of those trips, I was overcome with how beautiful the outdoor space is in that sprawling city.
I have been fortunate enough to travel a great deal, and I can honestly say that few cities have the skyline and lakefront that Chicago has.
The original city planners did an amazing job of preserving the beauty of Lake Michigan and decorated it with a vast network of parks and beaches.
In fact, The Chicago Lakefront Trail is 18.5 miles long.
Another stunning fact is that the famous trail is entirely located within the city.
The trail includes numerous parks and takes you right through the museum campus.
There are stunning sights around every corner, and despite the millions who live in the city, there are plenty of little places to take a seat, secluded from the crowds, and enjoy the outdoors.
Those who live and work in the city understand this.
At any given time, people can be seen walking, picnicking, biking, jogging, kayaking, boating and even fishing.
The lakeshore is alive with activity and wildlife.
Earlier this summer, I strolled along one of the piers and in seconds I spotted several smallmouth working in and around the rocks looking for forage.
Twice in the last year I have been to Lincoln Park Zoo.
Once was in the dead of winter and the other was just this week.
It is a stunning example of how natural and beautiful a zoo can be.
There are gardens, ponds and walkways in that urban masterpiece that take you to another world. Giant oaks create a canopy while all kinds of grasses and shrubs provide ground cover.
Besides the collection of exotic creatures within the park, there are numerous local fauna that I’m sure are more than happy to call Lincoln Park Zoo their home.
I know that for many, especially those of us who live outside the city, being in the outdoors is often about the solitude and escape from people. We like our alone time with nature. I do.
It is powerful, yet watching thousands of Chicagoans enjoy their stunning natural city elements is quite satisfying as well.
I get the sense that every cyclist and jogger I see holds a sense of pride for their city.
They soak in the outdoors and cherish the eye candy that is the lakeshore.
They relish the many miles of paths and trails lush with greenery and places to relax.
Humans needs the outdoors. We crave it. It has a way of balancing our priorities and rejuvenating our soul.
Even a major city, like Chicago, understands how important those green spaces are, and I must say, Chicago does is right.
The next time you venture into the Windy City, schedule some time to take a stroll along the lakeshore. Leave a couple of hours earlier, or stay a few hours later.
Keep the car parked and enjoy the natural side of a major city.
I think that you too will enjoy spending some time outdoors in a place that you would least expect it.