You navigate city sidewalks with a stroller like nobody’s business. Now step up the pace and make a run for it. We have the scoop on jogging paths that are great for pushing a set of wheels. As a bonus, they’re close to awesome playgrounds so you can reward the kids with playtime post-workout — you stretch and they slide!
photo: via Flickr creative commons
Lakeshore Path North
Location: On Chicago’s north side along the lake, from Hollywood to North Avenue Beach.
Why Jog There: Straight, wide paved paths make it ideal for stroller jogging and longer runs. Pass by scenic beaches, Belmont Harbor boats and Montrose Harbor, and gaze at our beautiful skyline.
Playground Options: The newly renovated Tesclar Playground at 3200 N. Lake Shore Dr., “Boat” Playground at 3300 N. Lake Shore Dr., Morrie Mages Playground at 4100 N. Lake Shore Dr., the playground at Simonds and Lawrence at 4800 N. Simonds Dr., and Margate Playground at 4921 N. Marine Dr.
Lakeshore Path South
Location: On Chicago’s south side along the lake, from Navy Pier to 43rd Street.
Why Jog There: Just like the north side path, this one is also wide, paved and a touch less busy once you get past Museum Campus. Your kids will think it is so cool to see Buckingham Fountain and circle around the Shedd Aquarium as you jog.
Playground Options: Lakeshore East playground at 450 E. Benton Pl. (a great place to also cool off with water sprayers just off the lakeshore path); 31st and Lakeshore Playground, 43rd and Lakeshore Playground.
Location: 2534 N. Greenview Ave. in Lincoln Park.
Why Jog There: There is a hard, wide dirt circular track so you are never far from a bathroom or that coveted playground! Enjoy the serenity of this track with a rural feel, large trees and barely a tall building in sight. This is a quieter place to jog.
Playground Options: Wrightwood has a large playground with many climbing structures for all ages, a sandbox and field house with bathrooms
photo: Lakeshore Path via Playground Pointers
Location: 808 N. Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville.
Why Jog There: There is a large running track that circles the park — a great option to focus on the run without worrying about crossing streets and dodging dog walkers, yet close to the action of Michigan Avenue. With great views of the city skyline, you are also just across the street to join up with the lakefront trail and close to Ohio Street Beach for an after-jog cool-off swim.
Playground Options: Wide-open spaces adjacent to the onsite playground make it a green oasis in high-rise heavy Streeterville neighborhood.
Location: 4701 N. Ashland Avenue in Uptown.
Why Jog There: This is another great running track option away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The track surrounds the larger park area, adjacent to both a field house and playground. Bathrooms and playtime are just a track turn away.
Playground Options: The park’s playground has toddler structures and more physically challenging features for older children. It also includes two large “bug” seats for tots.
Location: 5100 N. Leavitt Street in Lincoln Square.
Why Jog There: Paved paths will lead you on an adventure throughout this park as you circle past mature trees, a prairie, sunny grassy fields and nature trail. You won’t get bored while selecting a direction to jog in.
Playground Options: Winnemac has a newer playground that feels removed from the city. After your run and playground time, stay to explore the surrounding grassy fields and gardens that offer more outdoor fun.
photo: Humboldt Park via Playground Pointers
Location: Between North Avenue and Division Street to the north and south, and Kedzie and California avenues to the west and east.
Why Jog There: There are many paved, undulating, wide paths within this beautiful park. You’ll never run the same course twice as there are so many paths in this lovely green space with mature trees and a pond. Your kiddos can play “I Spy” and keep an eye out for the next playground to visit as you make your way through the park.
Playground Options: There are five playgrounds in Humboldt Park with two newer locations worth visiting located at 1400 N. California Ave. (with very cool modern structures) and 1251 N. Kedzie St. (with traditional structures for all ages).
Location: 5801 N. Pulaski Road in North Park.
Why Jog There: Multiple wooded paths run around grassy fields will make you forget you are still jogging in the city and offer a breath of fresh air. For a post-workout cool down, walk to the adjacent North Park Nature Center and keep an eye out for deer.
Playground Options: The larger playground by the field house has a woodsy, rugged feel because it’s surrounded by trees. Enter by foot through a small gate along Central Park Avenue or by vehicle from Pulaski Street from the west, winding your way to the east side of the larger complex. The toddler structure is shaped like a pirate ship and will make for imaginative playtime.
Location: 5861 N. Kostner Avenue in Sauganash.
Why Jog There: This playground and park is adjacent to the Sauganash Trail, a secluded one-mile biking, walking and hiking trail. Plan for a shorter run as you go back and forth on the trail, promising to stop soon at this newer playground for the kids!
Playground Options: Sauganash Park has a playground that’s so quiet you’ll hear the birds singing.
photo: Legion Park via Playground Pointers
Legion Park/North Shore Channel Trail
Location: Between Peterson and Bryn Mawr avenues, just west of Lincoln Avenue in North Park.
Why Jog There: Paved paths run throughout this peaceful, grassy park that has mature trees adjacent to the channel. Try a boot camp approach on this run: At each of the five playgrounds you can stop and spend 10 minutes doing sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges and burpees while your kiddos run about.
Playground Options: Here is the plan to hit all five playgrounds within Legion Park: Park along Peterson Avenue or nearby streets. Head south along Jersey Avenue (west side of the Channel), stopping first at Hollywood Playground on Thorndale Avenue. Head east on Thorndale and join up with the trail. Run south (take a right) and stop at the playground at Hollywood Avenue along the path. When you reach Bryn Mawr Avenue, go east (left) across channel and continue south (right) along the trails. You’ll pass one more playground at Catalpa Avenue. Continue heading south until you cross Foster Street. You are now in River Park! You and the kids can cool off in the awesome sprayground near the pool then turn around and take the same trail back north, passing the playground at Catalpa. Stay on the east side of the Channel and you’ll pass two more playgrounds — one at Hollywood Avenue and one at Thorndale Avenue, and then you’ll end at the beautiful fountain at Peterson Avenue and the Channel.
North Pond & South Pond Trails
Location: Just west of Lakeshore Drive, starting around the North Avenue bridge, heading north to Belmont Harbor.
Why Jog There: These paved trails are less crowded than those right along the lakefront, and they also run north and south. They still have great views of the lake and skyline and weave through the newly renovated Nature Boardwalk paths around the South Pond or form a complete circle around the North Pond. These paths offer miles of jogging options in Lincoln Park.
Playground Options: Cummings Playground located at 2045 N. Lincoln Park West (adjacent to the Zoo’s west entrance) and Sunshine Playground at 2610 N. Cannon Dr. (at the very northern tip of the North Pond). And don’t forget the Lincoln Park Zoo!
photo: Eric Fredericks via Flickr
Northwestern University’s Campus
Location: In Evanston, along the lakefront.
Why Jog There: Ample paved paths are empty while students are away for the summer. Weave in and out of the campus buildings and jog around the manmade pond with a sweet city view as a reward. Relive your college days as you gaze at the ivy-covered structures.
Playground Options: Lawson Playground at Sheridan Road and Clinton Place to the north of campus, Philbrick Playground at Sherman Avenue and Gaffield Place, and Fireman’s Playground at Simpson Street and Maple Avenue located in the neighboring streets to the west.
Location: 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle.
Why Jog There: With miles of paved and unpaved trails with virtually no car traffic, Morton Arboretum is a wonderful place to jog and take in nature’s beauty. Note that there is an entrance fee, unless you are a member, to access these trails.
Playground Options: The Children’s Garden is the ultimate reward. With hands-on activities, water play, climbing, sliding and swinging, you and your kids could spend the day here after a morning jog (you’ll probably get wet and dirty engaging with the kids in the garden, so who cares if you are sweaty?). Pack a lunch and sunscreen and enjoy!
Do you know of an awesome jogging path? Let us know in the Comments!
— Mistie Lucht