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explore-cleveland-metroparks

New Cleveland Metroparks Podcast Invites You Outside

A new podcast promotes exploration of the Cleveland Metroparks.

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Embrace the Elements with Snow Trekking at Northerly Island

What have you done this winter? It’s been Chicago’s worst in decades, but have you experienced it outside of Netflix marathons? If you’re not into winter sports and mass snowball fight opportunities are all too rare, the Chicago Parks District has you covered with snow trekking at Northerly Island. Snow trekking is available at Northerly Island most winter weekends. For only $5 for two hours, visitors can rent a pair of snowshoes or cross country skies between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you own snowshoes or cross country skies you’re welcome to trek the island for free! Snow trekking requires the right conditions, including at least three inches of snow. Before heading to the park on a Saturday or Sunday, give them a call at (312) 745-2910 to verify weather conditions allow outings. A parking lot adjacent to the fieldhouse ($1/hour rates) makes hauling your gear is even easier. Arriving at opening time one sunny February morning I found a line already forming of families, friends, and even a first date ready to play …

Take Heart Chicago

Reflecting on Chicago love evokes the image of a giant heart seared above the city. In the depths of the coldest winter in decades, our affection for Chicago can become numb. The Chicago Air & Water Show and other warm weather hallmarks seem all too distant in the face of a subzero gale. A Chicago tradition since 1959, the Air & Water show entices spectators with daring demonstrations of top civilian and military aircraft high above Lake Michigan’s cerulean surface. With nearly two million annual spectators, it’s the nation’s largest free admission air and water exhibition.¹ Many among us view Chicago’s skyline as the finest in the world, and enjoying aerial feats against this backdrop makes them all the more epic. The aircraft zip across the vast sky like lightning bolts seconds before their thundering is heard overhead. If you’re looking for them, shielding your eyes from the sun’s glare,  you’re already too late. Below, the lake chuckles against the side of your boat. Above, their trails of exhaust tag “we were here.” We were there too, …

Paddle Beyond the Boat Tour with Kayak Chicago

Spring is in full swing, and already your summer sched is filling with incoming visitors. While the various boat tours traversing Lake Michigan and the Chicago River are a reliable go-to for out-of-town guests, how many times can you hear “Mies van der Rohe” before you’re snooze cruising in the sun? For an active take on the waterway tour try seeing Chicago by kayak. There are several companies that guide kayak tours in the city, but I’d recommend Kayak Chicago. Offering tours by day, night, architectural sites, or sunset Kayak Chicago has any vantage covered. The Fireworks Paddle tour ($65) is a gorgeous way to watch the sun dim on the skyline and city lights reflect luminously on the river. No kayaking experience is required, but I’d think twice about bringing the athletically averse on this tour. I’d also advise against the two-person kayak, despite how effective you deem your couple’s communication. Unless you regularly work the core kayaking muscle groups, you’re going to feel the burn a little. At first, I gazed longingly toward the passing booze …

Chicago Cycling Guide: When in Doubt, Be a Car

When in doubt, be a car. When the author of this fine blog asked me to write about biking in Chicago, it couldn’t have come a more opportune time. April is here. The 80-degree days this March primed everyone for summer. Chicago’s bike shops are slammed. Time to get some air in those tires and ride. Biking is a great way to get around—it’s free, keeps you in shape, and is often faster than a car or the CTA. If you’re new to Chicago streets, or simply need to brush up, this is your cheat sheet to urban cycling. I’ll include some words from the Oz of riding in the city: Bike Snob NYC. The bike blogger who’s made a name by skewering cycling culture came to Tati Cycles in Hyde Park last week, led a ride to On The Route in Lincoln Square via the Lake Front Trail, and delivered a sermon before a shop full of skeptic, profane bipeds looking for some velo-salvation. Bike Snob, aka Eben Weiss, has published a compendium of …

Exploring Underground Chicago with Waxwing Puzzle Co.

Deep beneath the city a group of strangers huddles uncovering a clue, unraveling a mystery, traversing the innards of a metropolis without stepping outside. It may be the plot of a blockbuster or post-apocalyptic novel, but this particular Saturday it’s an adventure tourism treasure hunt with Waxwing Puzzle Co. Waxwing offers Chicago a different take on tourism. “There are a lot of tour companies that allow you to see sights and learn information,” says Waxwing founder, Andy Patton. “The idea behind adventure tourism is that it’s playful. By adding a bit of story the experience becomes immersive and ends up being like a self-guided tour.” Patton first began organizing treasure hunts while attending the University of Missouri, and brought the concept to Chicago last year. “Chicago is great place for these activities because you’re able to draw on the city’s amazing history and cultural richness, allowing people to experience it in a new way.” Waxwing offers several games, but the one that’s taken me on a subterranean tour of Chicago is Labyrinth. Oh you didn’t …

A Winter’s Tale: Ice Skating in Millenium Park

Chicago is known for packing in outdoor fun in the summer months, but don’t assume a drop in degrees scares everyone inside. Chicagoans can be seen gliding, staggering, slipping, and pirouetting on the ice all winter long. Nestled under The Bean along Michigan Avenue,  the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millenium Park is the most recognizable of the ten rinks citywide. Admission to all rinks is free, with the exception of the Rink at Wrigley and the McFetridge Sports Center, which is year-round indoor rink. Bring your own skates or rent them for a nominal fee and you’re off on the ice! It’s one thing to admire the postcard-worthy vantage of the Millenium Park rink and quite another to sail gracefully into the scene with impeccable balance and rosy cheeks, the difference being that skating is much more fun! I have fond memories of ice skating as a kid, when the distance to fall was far less, but the memory of months more recently spent in a shoulder cast kept me shy of the rink for too long. Haven’t skated in a while, or ever? It’s a bit …

[Whirly] Ballin

Agility. Speed. Strength. None of these qualities will be of any use in the highly competitive world of WhirlyBall. The declaration on the Whirlyball website instills optimism rather than disappointment as I doubt any of the above are my most prominent traits.  For weeks prior to visiting I hear whispers around the office of strategy, deceit, and past battle wounds.   I don’t get it, but am assured the thrill of the game will strike once I try. In preparation for the epic encounter I try some research, learning Whirlyball was invented in Salt Lake City in the 1960s.  There are varying descriptions ‘basketball meets jai alai’ or ‘bumper cars meets lacrosse’  Ok?  There are hokey vocab terms incorporating “whirl.”  There are a handful of Whirlyball locations in the U.S. including Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, among others.  Finally, Kid Rock has a state-of-the-art Whirlyball court installed in his home…right so it has to be cool. The Chicago location holds three courts in addition to a well-appointed sports bar.  Its location on Fullerton between Clybourn and Elston …

Attempting a Hyde Park Bike Tour

It’s my belief that urban explorers need not be limited to transport solely by foot or town car; enter the noble bike tour.  While hardcore cyclist friends dismiss this mode as gimmicky, I disagree.  Bike tours allow you to survey noteworthy spots in a condensed time span with the cliff notes included.  Just as a vantage you drive past daily appears different on foot, cycling by shows you another side.  Finally, for unseasoned city bikers like myself, there is much to be said for biking in the safety of a pack even at the inconvenience of the general populous at each intersection. After enjoying such a tour of downtown a few months ago, a few friends and I decide an autumn tour of Hyde Park is in order.  The Southside – I’ve been embarrassingly few times, and the dreary drizzle of a morning can’t dampen my enthusiasm to venture down. We depart from the Hyde Park Art Center, and moments later chilling rain cuts through our sparse layers.  “Not so bad” becomes unbearable as we …