Top 15 Outdoor Activities in Chicago
chicago skyline
When Nature Calls, Chicago Has Answers

Chicago is the focal point of Illinois, offering a diverse range of activities as well as world-class architecture and museums. From the shores of Lake Michigan, to the busy city streets - there's no shortage of entertainment.

Here are Red Roof's top 15 outdoor activities to try when you're visiting Chicago. 

Go on a Kayak Tour

Kayaking on the Chicago River or the shore of Lake Michigan is a great way to view the city from a new perspective. Travel the river through the city's bustling heart, or travel Lake Michigan and circle Museum Campus, featuring the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, Soldier Field and Shedd Aquarium. Tours along either route are available via Urban Kayaks and several other operators.

Bike on the Lakefront Trail
Biking is a terrific way to observe the city's green spaces as well as its neighborhoods. Biking the Lakefront Trail is one of Chicago's most popular outdoor activities. The 18-mile track follows the shoreline of Lake Michigan, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the city's beaches. You don't have a bicycle? No need to worry; you can borrow a city bike from any Divvy kiosk and simply return it when you're finished.
chicago beach
Hit the Beach
North Avenue Beach is one of Chicago's most popular beaches among locals and visitors alike, thanks to its wide sands, cool beachside bars, and handy placement near other popular sites (like the nearby Lincoln Park Zoo). Because of its proximity to downtown and The Magnificent Mile, Oak Street Beach is a convenient and gorgeous pit break. A bit further north, Loyola Beach has a calm ambiance with shallow seas and a playground, making it a family favorite. If you're visiting Chicago with your four-legged companion, the northern end of Montrose Beach is dog-friendly.
hiking trail
Visit the Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum, located about 30 minutes west of downtown Chicago, feels like a world away. It's a pastoral escape that nourishes both the mind and the heart. The on-site art pieces are rotated yearly, and several of them are related to natural sciences, such as the living display dedicated to tree growth. This is the ultimate urban hideaway for outdoorsy types looking to decompress, with a maze garden and over 16 miles of hiking track.
Spend the Day at the Zoo
Located in the center of Chicago's Lincoln Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo provides free family-friendly entertainment all year long. The zoo is open 365 days a year and is one of the very few free-admission zoos in the country. Spend the day venturing through the expansive grounds and visiting the more than 1,100 animals!
Humboldt Park
Visit Humboldt Park
This 207-acre green space is home to various statues, including one of its namesake, as well as two bison from the 1893 World's Fair, plus the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, which is housed in the park's former stables. Humboldt Park is one of Chicago's most beautiful, make sure you give yourself enough time to take in the expansive grounds.
train tracks
Go to the Trail at 606
The 606, which was once an abandoned railway line, is now a multi-use recreational route and park. During the warmer months, the trail also conducts a number of free programs for families with small children. The elevated train track stretches for 2.7 miles and takes you around four different Chicago neighborhoods - an excellent way to learn about the city.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Spend the Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden, located on the beaches of Lake Michigan, is one of the world's most important conservation science centers. A 385-acre living museum with 27 gardens and 6 miles of seashore spread across nine islands.
chicago river boat tour
Embark on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
The Architecture River Tour, run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, explores Chicago's origins from various branches of the Chicago River, giving both day and nighttime tours. In 90 minutes, you'll learn about 50 structures along the Chicago River, uncover mysteries about a hidden map of the river's geography, and discover the only skyscraper in the skyline constructed by an award-winning female architect.
art installation
Visit the Promontory Point
Because of its manicured environment and rock formations along the lakefront, this man-made peninsula in Burnham Park has become a favorite gathering and photo shoot location for locals. Enjoy a picnic at the point, then wander around the park viewing the impressive public art installations.
millennium park
Spend the Day at Millennium Park
Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago. It's most known for Cloud Gate, sometimes known as the "Bean," and Crown Fountain. The Bean is a stainless steel, reflective sculpture shaped like a huge bean. Its central location makes it an ideal starting point for families to explore the remainder of the park. Crown Fountain is a pair of towers that project the faces of Chicago residents and spit out water streams. It's located right on Michigan Avenue and is a great spot for youngsters to play and cool off (depending on the season).
Farmer's market chicago
Buy Fresh Veggies and Fruit at a Farmer’s Market
The City Market at Daley Plaza, a short walk from the Bean in Millennium Park, is the city's longest-running farmers market. The Maxwell Street Market is only open on Sundays and has Mexican cuisine sellers that draw a crowd with their handmade tamales and tortillas. In Lincoln Park, the Green City Market is Chicago's largest farmers market, with its own cookbook.
Discover the Murals in Pilsen
This lovely neighborhood has streets lined with distinctive murals created from the 1960s to the present. Many of the murals portray the history of Mexican-American culture as interpreted by both emerging and well-known artists. Look for Spy Gaia's Quetzalcoatl and the Stork and the stairway covered in multicolored glass mosaics.
Wrigley Field
Watch a Baseball Game
A day at Wrigley Field, a prestigious 100-year-old ballpark, is a must for locals and tourists alike - whether you're a fan of the Cubs or baseball in general.
ice skating
Go Ice Skating
Ice Skating is a fantastic outdoor activity to try if you're visiting Chicago during the winter months. Most outdoor skating rinks in Chicago are typically open from mid-November until the end of February/early March. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park and the skating ribbon in Maggie Daley Park are two of the most popular spots downtown.
woman relaxing at red roof hotel
Book Your Stay With Red Roof

It's safe to say you'll need some R&R between your Chicago adventures, but don't fret. Red Roof has comfortable accommodations, so you can rest and repeat.