hour or $34 a day (you can have the skates 8am-8pm). A second rental spot is
Londo Mondo, 1100 N. Dearborn St. ( & 312/751-2794 ), on the Gold Coast,
renting blades for $7 an hour or $20 a day.
The best route to skate, of course, is the lakefront trail that leads from Lin-
coln Park down to Oak Street Beach. Beware, though, that those same miles of
trail are claimed by avid cyclists—and I've seen plenty of collisions between
'bladers and bikers. Approach Chicago lakefront traffic as carefully as you would
a major expressway!
It seems a shame just to sit on the beach and watch all those beautiful sailboats
gliding across the lake. Go on, get out there. The Chicago Sailing Club, in Bel-
mont Harbor ( & 773/871-SAIL; www.chicagosailingclub.com), rents J-22 and J-
30 boats from 9am to sunset, weather permitting, May through October. A J-22
holds four or five people. Rates for a J-22 range from $35 to $55 an hour ($10
extra for a skipper). A J-30 accommodates up to 10 people and can sail at night.
Rates are $70 to $90 per hour, plus $20 per hour for a skipper. If you want to take
the boat out without a skipper, you need to demonstrate your skills first (and pay
an additional $10 checkout fee). Those who'd rather sit back and relax while a pro
does the sailing can charter a boat here as well. Reservations are recommended.
The Chicago Park District maintains about 30 indoor pools for lap swimming
and general splashing around, but none are particularly convenient to down-
town. If you are a resident, you should check out your local park (to find out
where parks are located, see www.chicagoparkdistrict.com). Some neighbor-
hoods have incredible facilities that are safe and clean. For example, Portage
Park, located on Chicago's northwest side at 4100 Long Ave. ( & 773/685-
7235 ), has a stunning outdoor Olympic-size pool, a diving board with three lev-
els and its own dive pool, and a kids' pool with a water playhouse, waterfalls,
and more. It's absolutely wonderful, and it's free. The neighborhood is popu-
lated by Hispanic and eastern European immigrants and tons of kids jam the
pool every summer weekend. Another great park for swimming is Blackhawk
Park, located at 2318 N. Lavergne Ave. in the Irving Park neighborhood
( & 773/746-5014 ). You'll find an outdoor spray pool and an indoor swimming
pool. Pool hours vary according to age: Youth swim is at 3pm, teen swim at
5pm, and family swim at 7pm.
Still, my advice to visitors would be to skip the park district pools, because
many are located in off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods. As a visitor, your best
bet for summer swimming is Lake Michigan, where beaches are open for swim-
mers Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9am to 9:30pm in areas watched
over by lifeguards (no swimming off the rocks, please). It's a safe place to swim
and a uniquely “Chicago” experience. How often do you and your kids get the
chance to take a dip in a Great Lake? Watch the news for beach closings, which
happen occasionally, as the water is tested daily for bacteria. If you're a serious
lap swimmer, you'll find company along the wall beginning at Ohio Street
Beach, located slightly northwest of Navy Pier. The Chicago Triathlon Club
marks a course here each summer with a buoy at both the 1 ⁄ 4 - and 1 ⁄ 2 -mile marks.
This popular swimming route follows the shoreline in a straight line. The water
is fairly shallow. For more information, call the park district's beach and pool
office ( & 312/742-PLAY ).