( & 773/746-5014 ). A basketball court and baseball and softball fields dot the
grounds of this family-friendly park. Basketball programs are offered for ages 5 and
up. You'll also find an outdoor playground and spray pool and an indoor swimming
pool. Park hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 9pm and Saturday and
Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Also recommended for their excellent kids' basketball
programs are Oz Park, at 2021 N. Burling in the Lincoln Park neighborhood;
Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave. on the northwest side; and Independence Park,
at 3945 Springfield Ave. in the Irving Park neighborhood.
You can walk in to any YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and use the gym to
play basketball for a small fee. The most centrally located YMCA in the down-
town area is New City YMCA, located at 1515 N. Halsted, at Clybourn ( & 312/
440-7272 ). For more information, see www.ymcachgo.org.
Biking is a great way to see the city, particularly the lakefront, along which there's
a bike path that extends for more than 18 miles. The stretch between Navy Pier
and North Avenue Beach gets extremely crowded in the summer (you're jostling
for space with in-line skaters, joggers, and dawdling pedestrians). If you're look-
ing for more wide-open spaces, I recommend biking south from Navy Pier—
once you're past the Museum Campus, traffic on the trail is light, and you can
cruise all the way to Hyde Park. If you want a more leisurely tour with good peo-
ple-watching potential, head north (through the crowds) and be patient—once
you pass Belmont Harbor, the traffic lets up somewhat. It's possible to ride all the
way to Hollywood Beach, where the lakefront trail ends—a great workout.
To rent bikes, try Bike & Roll, which has locations at Navy Pier ( & 312/
595-9600 ) and North Avenue Beach ( & 773/327-7206 ). Open from 8am to
8pm May through October (weather permitting), Bike & Roll stocks mountain
and touring bikes, kids' bikes, kids' seats and trailers for any kids too young for
a bike, strollers, and—most fun of all—quadcycles, which are four-wheeled con-
traptions equipped with a steering wheel and canopy that can accommodate
four or five people. Rates for bikes are $9.75 an hour, $39 a day, with helmets,
pads, and locks included. Quadcycles rent for $20 per hour.
Both the park district ( & 312/742-PLAY ) and the Chicagoland Bicycle
Federation ( & 312/42-PEDAL; www.chibikefed.org) offer free maps that
detail popular biking routes. The latter, which is the preeminent organization
for cyclists in Chicago, also sells a much larger, more extensive map for $6.95
that shows routes within a seven-county area. They sponsor a number of bike
rides throughout the year, including the highly enjoyable Boulevard Lakefront
Tour, held in mid-September, which follows the historic circle of boulevards
that had their genesis in the Chicago Plan of 1909. It starts in Hyde Park at the
University of Chicago campus.
A word of caution: Locking your bike anywhere you go is a no-brainer. More
important, though, is never heading anywhere on the city's streets without first
strapping on a helmet. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is an avid cyclist him-
self and has tirelessly promoted the addition of designated bike lanes along many
main thoroughfares. But, that said, most cabbies and drivers tend to ignore
them. Bike with extreme caution on city streets (you can get a ticket for biking
on the sidewalks), and stick to the lakefront path if you're not an expert rider.
What better way to bond as a family than an evening of gutter-dusting? Two pop-
ular hangouts mix teens, serious league bowlers, and families in an irresistible