Chicago is the 7th city I’ve lived in over the last 26 years. I’ve been to more apartment showings with overeager leasing agents than I have to feature-length films with overeager first dates.
When family and friends visit me in the windy city, I don’t take them to the Sears Tower, to the giant bean, or to get deep dish pizza. I do always take visitors to where I find myself falling in love with Chicago over and over again: Lake Shore Drive.
Lake Shore Drive is a fifteen mile stretch of highway that hugs Lake Michigan. Parallel to the highway, where the turquoise water meets the city’s edges is the Lakefront trail. Open to bicyclists & runners year-round, for me, these fifteen miles of waves gently lapping against the city’s beaches and of guaranteed breezes offering gusts of kind respite in the hot summer, are a slowly ambling walker’s dream.
For three blissful months, Chicagoans are universally sun-soaked, smiling, and sticky. In walking up North Avenue beach along the lakefront, you’ll carefully step around tots building their first sandcastles, a volleyball rolling along the warm sand, and a recent law school grad studying for the bar in a striped yellow tankini. Divvy bikers in strappy sandals happily wave at the the blur of helmeted cyclists who artfully weave through. The trickling of sweat down your back means that it’s time to visit the slushie stand.
As the September air grows crisper and the breeze brings the gentle but sharp reminder of the winter ahead, it is on autumn walks along the lakefront that shy first kisses are snuck in. With the backdrop of a tangerine setting sun peeking between the towering skyscrapers of the Chicago skyline, the hush of the rolling waves melting into the salmon skies invite moments of intimacy and introspection.
This fall, when my lease runs out and I move to a new apartment building, I’m not looking for an apartment with crown molding or a rooftop deck: all I need is to be within walking distance of Lake Shore Drive.