Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and is a major economic and transportation hub with its setting on Lake Michigan. The city is also known for its art, architecture, food, and love of sports. Chicago is one of our favorite cities for running in the USA, with its scenic lakefront setting and terrific network of parks, off-road paths, and forest preserves. Our guide to running in Chicago is divided into two sections: Central, defined by the city limits; and Suburbs, known as ‘Chicagoland’. If you’d like to have an in-person guided running experience in Chicago, we highly recommend our friends at Go! Running Tours.
The anchor of running in Chicago is the 18-mile Lakefront Trail, with its great views of the lake, Chicago skyline, beaches, major parks, and breathtaking loop around Museum Campus. Other great places to run in Chicago include:
- Central/Lakefront: Combine the Lakefront Trail with iconic parks: Grant Park, Lincoln Park, and Hyde Park/Jackson Park in the south.
- Downtown: Run the ‘Loop’ and the Riverwalk to get a sense of Chicago’s spectacular architecture.
- North Neighborhoods. Within the city limits, favorite neighborhoods for running are Humboldt Park, Logan Square, & Wrigleyville. Run the 606 Trail, Chicago’s version of the High Line, and combine with Humboldt Park & Garfield Park. The N Shore Channel Trail and N Branch Trails are good greenway paths.
- Gorgeous residential neighborhoods. Fun running in the area around Humboldt Park & Logan Square, and in the Wrigleyville/Lake View area. Further north, run Northwestern University’s lakeside campus and the beautiful residential streets of Chicago’s north shore suburbs from Evanston to Highland Park.
- Southside. Best running is the Lakefront Trail around Jackson Park & Promontory Point. Just inland from there is Washington Park, Hyde Park, and the University of Chicago campus.
- O’Hare Area. Officially part of the City of Chicago, good running options in the Forest Preserves near there.
For more, see our separate Chicago suburbs guide. Runners should be prepared for Chicago’s weather, which features cold winters with ‘fresh’ winds off the lake, and warm to hot summer temperatures.