Biking the Chicago Lakefront Trail with Small Children

We dusted off our bikes last week and rode the Chicago lakefront trail for the first time since having kids, and it was SO GOOD FOR THE SOUL. 🧘🏼‍♀️ (And yes! Mitch’s helmet is on its way. Edit: Just arrived. The old one apparently did not make the move.) A few things:⁣

1. Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, and it almost feels like the Carribean! 🌴 Fun fact: The lake’s vibrant blue color is partially due to the fact that water radiates and reflects light, but it’s also due to invasive mussels that eat light-absorbing algae. Less algae = less green.⁣ I was truly shocked by the lake’s beauty when we moved here. There are a few restaurants that are scattered about, but it’s mostly reserved for people and activities. It’s a nice little escape from normal city life!

2. The 18-mile lakefront trail IS open, but the city asks everyone to “keep it moving” and wear masks. Social distancing ambassadors are there to manage the flow.⁣ Overall, I’d say that we felt safe. We had to wait for an opening while crossing the bridge, as that could get a little congested. Other than that, though, we were able to keep a solid distance from others.

3. While there are lots of (currently closed) sandy beaches in Chicago, the section of the lakefront you see above is called the “Belmont Rocks,”⁣ which is right of the Belmont Harbor. When there isn’t a pandemic, we normally go to North Avenue Beach because it’s closest to our home. But Oak Street Beach, which is located downtown, has palm trees shipped in during the summer! Being surrounded by huge buildings is an awesome experience, too.

4. The city closed Dickens off from through traffic, and it’s GREAT. (Though I would imagine that it’s not so great for residents. 😬) Residents can still park, but it’s otherwise reserved for pedestrians! We took Dickens all the way to the lake, and that eased my fears about biking with the girls. I think we only needed to navigate around one car the whole time!

5. My helmet is $32 from Retrospec via Amazon. (Mitch ordered the same one.) Emma’s helmet is from Banwood (also available here) and Lucy’s is called the “Joovy Noodle.” (Thank you, Nicki!)⁣ I really like the Retrospec. Yes, it sits high on my head and I look a bit like a Storm Trooper when I wear it. But it gets stellar reviews, it’s a bargain, and it’s comfy. I went with the size medium and it was a perfect fit. (Though I do think I have a big noggin, haha.) Mitch went with the L.

6. I have a 1950s one-speed cruiser that my in-laws restored and surprised me with. 😭 Cruisers are tough to come by right now, but try the Huffy “Nel Lusso.” (~$260 on eBay and ~$300 on Amazon.)⁣ I love one-speed bikes because I feel like they’re easier to ride?!

7. Mitch’s one-speed bike is from a company called Dawes, and we got it off eBay for $200 in 2012. I know nothing about the brand.⁣ 😆 Okay, just looked it up. It’s a British company. CUTE! Also, score.

8. The trailer is from InStep, and it fits two small children. Mitch bought it for $20 from another LP dad who didn’t need it anymore! 🙌🏻 (Retails for $165.) It’s ventilated well and very sturdy, though I ride behind them just in case.⁣ Our friends have the same one and love it.

9. “THAT WAS AWESOME!” was Emma’s review of the six-mile ride. As for Lucy, all I can say is that iPads are proof that god exists and wants us to be happy. Jokes. 😉 But things to consider putting in the trailer: snacks, snacks + more snacks. Oh, and snacks.⁣

10. If you’re on the struggle bus right now, hop off and hop ON the struggle bike! 😝 In all seriousness, the ride lifted our spirits and broke up the monotony of 2020. I so recommend breaking out your old wheels or investing in some; get that Vitamin D and breathe in that fresh air! (While wearing a mask, of course.)

Are you biking this year? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and/or gear recommendations as I’m a newbie!


Biking the Chicago Lakefront Trail with Small Children
Biking the Chicago Lakefront Trail with Small Children