Excursions

Farnsworth House

by paytonc | 09/22/2006

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Last week, a friend of mine rented a shared car to get to the Farnsworth House, the famous glass house designed by Mies van der Rohe on the banks of the Fox River, about 60 miles southwest of the city. Two years ago, a few months after it was purchased by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a friend and I decided to bicycle out there. It made a truly rewarding destination for one of the best bike routes out of the city: the Illinois Prairie Path -- the nation’s first rail-to-trail, built on the remains of an old electric interurban.

Bicycle Illinois

by MariaS | 06/21/2006

For those in search of biking possibilities outside of Chicago, Bicycle Illinois is scheduling several events this summer.
http://www.bicycleillinois.com/

First there’s the Bicycle Illinois Cross-State Bicycle Tour, July 1-8, 2006. This is a 7-day, 6-night tour starting way down south in Cairo (pronounced Kay-row, by the way) and ending in Chicago. The tour includes lodging and all the support services you’ll need along the way and costs about $500. You can also sign up for just part of the ride, if the whole tour doesn’t fit your schedule (the website includes directions from local Amtrak or Greyhound stations).

Then there’s the Northern Illinois Ride, July 30-August 2, 2006. This begins in Muscatine and ends in Chicago and costs about $150, which again includes road support and lodging.

Another event, called Bicycle Illinois Premier, is scheduled for August 12-19, 2006. Details for this are still in the works.

Miller Beach

by crandell | 06/10/2006

Miller Beach is a neighborhood of Gary, IN about an hour from Chicago via the South Shore Line. There’s a main street with several restaurants and bars, including Miller Bakery Cafe, which seems to get great reviews, but didn’t open until 5pm when I went there. Miller Pizza was also good and more than reasonably priced. The main street is nice for Gary, but still has some shut businesses and run-down buildings. The beach is about a half hour walk north of the main street. The walk there is not particularly pleasant — there is a sidewalk for about half of the walk, but then it’s off to the gravel shoulder for pedestrians. The beach is flanked on both sides by major industrial plants.

M.B.’s Carfree Day Trips

by ho3ard | 06/10/2006

Here’s an article submitted by Michael Burton a while back for the special carfree Derailleur zine– submitted without his permission, so don’t tell him– he’ll be pissed!!!

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Carfree Camping—Really Getting Away from it All!
Michael Burton

Four years ago, I joined the ranks of the auto emancipated when the City of Chicago towed my seldom-driven Chevy Nova and I decided to let them keep it. As the bicycle had become my primary mode of urban transportation, sending the ticket magnet (somehow, I always managed to always miss those darn street cleaning signs) to the crusher was a relief.

While biking and the occasional CTA ride got me everywhere I needed to go in Chicago, surrendering my cars keys left me uneasy about one transportation need—the urban get away. Over the past few years, my uneasiness has slowly given way to new adventures where the escape is often as enjoyable as the destination. Instead of starting out trips as a three hour prisoner of a bucket seat, my weekend travels now typically begin with invigorating bike rides or relaxing train rides.

One of my favorite Chicago weekend get aways is a little-known carfree camping trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Dunes boasts about 15 miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline as well as dozens of miles of hiking trails. And when you factor in convenient, cheap rail access and a walk-in, carfree camping area, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would ever drive to the Dunes.

Indiana Dunes

by crandell | 04/24/2006

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The Indiana Dunes are about an hour and a half outside of Chicago and can be reached via the South Shore Line. The parks have great hiking trails and several miles of quiet beaches. The trails go over dunes almost 200 feet high, through marshlands and along the beach. The area is preserved by both a state park and a national park. The Indiana Dunes State Park contains 1,530 acres of car-free nature preserve. The Indian Dunes National Lakeshore is 15,000 acres, but doesn’t have as much uninterrupted nature, and near the train stop the park surrounds the town of Beverly Shores.

Getting There
Two South Shore Line stations stop close to the dunes. Dune Park station is near the state park, and Bervely Shores is near the national park. It’s about $13 round-trip. Board the train at the Randolph Street Metra station underground next to Millennium Park. Trains run every hour or so, but make sure to check the schedule so you don’t get stranded in Indiana.