Having lived in Chicago for 6 years now, I've discovered many things that make me happy about living here. I've compiled a list of a few things that I not only enjoy doing in the city, but various places to check out yourself!
1. The Chicago Lakefront
One of the things I miss the most about the east coast is being around nature. I miss being able to hike on the weekends, ski in the winter, and run the trails in the summer. While, yes, the midwest is known for it's corn fields and flat landscape, I really wish there was more nature around the city. One of the reasons I love Lakeview so much is how close it is to the water and the parks. I've always found it to be the best place to go to get away from the noise of the city and just relax with a book. If you walk down to the Belmont Harbor and all the way to the end of the harbor, you get an awesome view of the Chicago skyline looking south. While it gets pretty crowded in the summer, the best time to enjoy these views is before a lot of the boats start to dock in the harbor around Memorial Day.
Having just finished the first year of my master's program, I have a glorious month off before summer school starts, to do basically nothing. While doing nothing is only fun for so long, one thing I have begun to once again enjoy is cooking. One of my favorite little stores to go to in Lakeview for food is called Milk and More located on Diversey, just west of Clark. Despite the new Trader Joes that was just put in across the street, Milk and More is the perfect corner store to find organic ingredients to cook healthy dinners and top it off with a beer from their wide selection. They also have a deli with sandwiches in the back. Despite being a vegetarian, it hasn't stopped me from enjoying one of their pretzel bread veggie sandwiches!
Once June hits and the beautiful warm weather nights come upon us, the Chicago Parks District sets up Movies in the Park all over the city. I've attended these the past few summers that I've lived here and the movies have ranged from oldies, to more recent releases. I usually go to the park with a couple friends, a picnic blanket, and a homemade dinner to enjoy the movie with hundreds of others in the grass. Best of all, it's free!
I love running, plain and simple. Sure I have my days where it feels like 3 miles has turned into 30, but as a whole I love the feeling of being outside in the city, enjoying some music, while bouncing along the pavement. Living in Lakeview, I'm a bit biased, but I think there's no other place to run in the city than along the lakeshore path. Three years ago I ran the Chicago Marathon with my sister and used the lakeshore path for the majority of our training runs. It's not only beautiful, but I've always found it to be motivating seeing all the other runners/walkers/bikers, and the ever questionable rollerblader along the way. The ever constant view of the city as you run along the beaches, snaking past Navy Pier, through the boat harbors, around the beautiful Shedd Aquarium, and over to Soldier field always reminds me of not only my love of running, but my love of the city.
5. And then there's Oscar....
If you know me, you know my dog Oscar. Or at least my obsession with him. Oscar, who hates the rain, has an aversion to being brushed, is afraid of the el, loves treats, and drags me through the city on our runs, always makes me smile. I rescued him two years ago from the Animal Care League in Oak Park through the PAWS Angels with Tails event held a few times in the city each year. Chicago is a perfect place to own a dog. After I adopted my mild mannered dog, who turned out to be anything but mild mannered, I realized that the dog park was a great place for him to get out his energy. One of our favorites is the Montrose dog beach, just off of Montrose Ave. and Lakeshore. The gated in beach is always full of friendly humans and happy dogs. Even though we quickly discovered that Oscar is a terrible swimmer, it doesn't stop him from enjoying a good run around the beach. If you ever hear a high screeched barking when passing the Montrose dog beach, you just know that Oscar is having a good time.