Chicago is a one of the largest cities in North America. In this city of four million people, there is something for everyone whether you live here or are just here on a visit to tour Chicago: world-class theater, professional sports, cutting edge restaurants, fortune 500 companies, and arts of all kinds. And then in addition to all that…we are lucky to have this huge body of water right outside our door, virtually creating one big park and beach as the front yard of the city. Lake Michigan’s surface area of 22,400 square miles, makes it the world’s largest lake within one country and the fifth largest overall. When you stand on the beach in Chicago, it is impossible to see across the lake to Indiana or Michigan. Sorry, coastal folks, but we have our own virtual ‘ocean’ without the seaweed or the salty burning-eyes and it’s pretty damn cool.
The Chicago Park District’s nine lakefront harbors stretch from Lincoln Park in the northern part of the city to Jackson Park in the south. When you think boating, you probably think Miami or Southern California or even Seattle. But with accommodations for more than 5,000 boats, the Chicago Harbors surprisingly constitute the nation’s largest municipal harbor system. That’s right…Chicago.
I’ve been out on the lake before in various tour boats and even a bit above it in a 4-seater plane, but this summer I got to enjoy the lake from a friend’s sailboat. My friends Christine and Bill invited us out for a day on the lake. I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.
“I’m on a boat!”
Take a look at this short video of our day:
If you can’t see the embedded video or would like to see it in sparkling HD, please go here – it’s worth it!
Riding my bike out to Montrose harbor made me more aware of this whole lake/boating culture here in Chicago that I am SO not a part of. It’s a whole other world out there. Just walking onto the dock felt like we were in Margaritaville. People with Hawaiian shirts milled about. Reggae music was playing out of at least two stereos. Folks were wheeling their big plastic coolers in and dockside grills were being cleaned for the day. There was a whole other ‘feeling’ in the air. It was like we weren’t in a big city anymore. We were in a beachside or island community. The only thing missing was the clangy sound of steel drums. These regular boaters are out here every weekend, enjoying the Chicago summer days, some never even taking their boat out, but just hanging out all day in a couple beach chairs on the dock.
The day could not have been more perfect. We took the boat out. Got a semi-crash lesson in sailing by Bill. Cooled off (it was a very hot day) by jumping in the 77-degree lake (warm for us!) not far out from Foster Avenue beach. Enjoyed a tasty vegan lunch of quinoa salad, hummus, veggies, fruit, chips, homemade guacamole, and some cold beers of course (I am not vegan, but have been eating less meat and love all this stuff).
Then we spent the rest of the day sailing around, chatting, and just soaking up the sun (a little too much sun). Just another perfect summer day in Chicago and another reason to love this city.