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Whether you’re passing through or staying a few days for a race in the Windy City, check out some of our top picks for running spots around the bustling city.
1. The Lakefront Trail
This 18-mile stretch is the most popular place in Chicago to run for a reason—it’s freaking gorgeous! Get views of skyscrapers mixed with the serenity of Lake Michigan, minus the interruption of busy streets and traffic lights. When the weather turns warm, you can even jump in the water to cool off post-run. The lake is swimmer friendly.
Related: Best Hotels For Traveling Runners
2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Finish Line
We might be biased—Women’s Running is the official women’s magazine of the series—but we think there’s no better summertime party for those who like to work up a sweat than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, 10K and 5K. Check out the action this year on July 18 and 19. Runners of all distances get a killer tour of the Chicago loop with on-course entertainment. This year, racers get to run with 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Kefleghizi and listen to Andy Grammer of “Honey, I’m Good” fame. Online registration closes on July 12, so click here to sign up now if you’re game.
3. Lincoln Park Zoo
If you’ve never run with monkeys before (and if you have, please email us immediately to tell us this story), you can take a lap through the zoo. The park is totally free and runner-friendly with open bathrooms and water fountains throughout. Plus, you get to see giraffes as you trot by.
4. Veteran Acres Park
The suburbs are filled with glorious little parks like this one. Singletrack trails and tall pines make for a serene little getaway. Take the metro to Crystal Lake, and you’ll be two blocks away.
Related: 6 Tips For Running While Traveling
5. Intelligentsia Coffee
The jewel in the crown of Chicago’s coffee scene, Intelligentsia is the perfect way to get a proper buzz. Did you know caffeine is a legal performance enhancer? Choose from one of six locations around the city.
After you have your coffee fix and finish your run, check out this spot for brunch. The French toast comes stuffed in three flavors: fresh strawberry, mascarpone and Mexican chocolate. What better way to replenish a carb deficit?
7. Universal Sole
With regular runs from the store twice a week and a super friendly staff, this is one of the best little running stores in the Midwest. Head to Universal Sole to get fitted for your sole mate or simply to check out the mini museum with shoes, relay batons and photos from famous races.