This post was written for the Chicago Half Marathon (July 15-16) presented by the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.
Lake Shore Drive. If you’re running a marathon in the windy city, chances are you’re going to pay that majestic stretch of sidewalk a visit at some grueling point. As a Chicagoan myself, I guarantee it’ll be beautiful – worthy of an inspirational Instagram with Kanye West’s beloved skyline as a backdrop.
But while you are spewing a litany of creative curse words as you pass mile 6 at 7:30 AM, here are 5 activities the natives will be enjoying while you wipe the sweat (or tears) from your eyes.
Don’t worry – you can join us after to celebrate.
Getting Coffee at Fairgrounds
The newest it
coffee shop to grace the six corners of Wicker Park and Bucktown, Fairgrounds is the caffeinated equivalent to a bar that serves beer from a slew of craft breweries. This coffee bar is breaking new ground by serving coffee from several local and national roasters such as Dark Matter Coffee, Nobletree, Verve, and Frothy Monkey Roasting Co. In addition to its artisanal selection of coffees, its sleek industrial design and steampunk inspired décor has made Fairgrounds the
place to enjoy a good cold brew as the weather warms up.
Prepping for Brunch at The Publican
Brunch in Chicago is sort of a big deal. Disagreements over the best brunch can end friendships and ruin marriages (at least for the hours between 10 am to 2 pm). One place that always reigns supreme? The Publican – this Chicago staple serves up some of the most delicious Burton’s maple syrup-braised bacon, Belgian waffles with honey butter and strawberry jam, and monkey bread. But, staying true to their motto of farm fresh food, the brunch menus change with the seasons. The Saturday and Sunday menus are also slightly different, so each trip there can be a wonderful and unique experience.
Strolling through Maggie Daley Park
If there’s one thing Chicago is known for, it’s the Bean (excuse me, Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park. But there’s a new kid of the block that’s stealing the spotlight: Maggie Daley Park. The park, which opened in 2014, boasts an ice skating ribbon, rock-climbing walls, and a play garden straight out of a storybook – areas called the Enchanted Forest, the Sea, the Slide Crater, the Watering Hole, the Harbor, and the Wave Lawn (which, yes, is as dope as it sounds). Although primarily designed for families, Maggie Daley Park is a delightful stroll for adults of all ages – with or without kids in tow. It’s my favorite park in Chicago, and, I’ll clue you in on a secret, it has the
best spot to see the Chicago skyline, the BP Pedestrian Bridge.
Making Dinner Plans for Au Cheval
Google the best time to get in line because this famed Chicago burger joint doesn’t take reservations (wait times can exceed three hours
). Au Cheval is most famous for their – you guessed it – Au Cheval burger, a beefy behemoth topped with dijonnaise, house-made pickles, a fried egg, and thick-cut peppered bacon. Oh yeah, it was also named the Best Burger in America by Bon Appetit.
So there’s that.
Stumbling Home from Smart Bar
After a (responsibly) boozy stint at The J. Parker, the real night owls will head to Smart Bar. This underground club is an all around good time – good DJs, great sound system, and a friendly staff. Forgo getting all dolled up to hit this club. Smart Bar has no dress code (comfortable shoes are a yes) and plays mostly house and techno music. The venue typically draws a more down-to-earth and respectful crowd and hosts an industry night dedicated to Chicago’s LGBTQ community every Sundays called Queen!. Smart Bar closes at 4 AM, so be sure to grab a polish sausage sandwich afterward at Jim’s Original, open 24/7.