Lake Shore Park
808 N Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IL
Open daily 6 am – 11 pm
One of the very few publicly accessible running tracks in the downtown area–this is a true essential for runners, crossfitters, and leisure exercisers alike during the summer months. Summer camps will take the field during various times throughout the summer, but early mornings and evenings will be clear. Dogs are welcome (but not on the track) and it is a hotspot for dog-owner groups as well. The track is .25 miles around, and consequently has some tighter turns. About ¼ of the track is under tree cover, and the rest is in the sun; keep this in mind when it is extra warm during the summer.
The track itself is not exemplary, but it serves it purpose–it is made of responsive rubber track material, but there are some inconsistencies as you move over it. Generally, however, it is a great alternative to the hard concrete of the Lakefront Trail. There are water fountains inside and outside, and bathrooms within the field house, which is open slightly different hours than the park itself. The basketball court can be reserved. If the track is ever reserved, signs will be up well in advance–regulars are dedicated to this track, so the Parks supervisors go out of their way to alert people to changes as best they can.
The area is well lit and oft-frequented. During the summer, there may be some vagrants that sleep on the benches at night, but they are “regulars” who generally move on between 8 – 9 am and do not cause disturbances. Furthermore, you are in the care of the police that patrol the Northwestern Law School and Hospital Campuses, there is dedicated overhead lighting, emergency call boxes, and a large, doorman-controlled apartment building bordering to the north.
If you’re hungry after a workout, go to nearby Foodease afterwards for lunch! Or get your meal to go and return to the park to sit, eat, and enjoy the sunshine after a long winter. Extremely family-friendly and welcoming to people of all ages and athletic abilities.