United States

Chicago: Central

All the GR Running Routes within Chicago City Limits. See Our Companion Guide for Chicago: Suburbs

Flickr: Juan Carlos Martin

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.

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Chicago: Central

See All Routes
  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

Chicago has a climate of extremes. Cold, dry winters and warm to hot summers. Winter can be cold and icy, with harsh winds. Dress appropriately. Summer can be hot and humid.



If you can, try to stay downtown. There is a great selection of hotels, at all levels of affordability, within a few blocks of the Lakefront Trail. The best areas of downtown to stay, which are walkable and feature good access to stores and restaurants, public transportation, and good running are: The Magnificent Mile area; the Loop (central business district); and the Gold Coast (smaller selection). Below are hotels and running areas near the airport


Running Stores

There are a good number of running and athletic stores within proximity of the key routes.

  • Road Runner Sports. Locations in Chicago (North Kingsbury St.), Willamette, Kildeer, and Naperville.
  • The Runner’s Edge. Libertyville. Group runs Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
  • Finish Line. Heart of Michigan Ave./Magnificent Mile. Another location near Millennium Park.
  • Fleet Feet. Seven locations around Chicago, South Loop, North Lakeview, Deerfield, Lincoln Square, Old Town, Oak Park, and Elmhurst.

Run Clubs and Group Runs

Runners Edge. Group Runs Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
Fleet Feet. South Loop location has runs Monday & Thursday @ 6:30 p.m.
Nike Chicago. Numerous stores in the area with multiple group runs each week.

Chicago Area Runners Association. Very vibrant local running organization. Numerous group runs each week, various locations.

City Running Tours. Themed group runs for a fee. Customizable and small group runs.

Looking for road or trail races in this area? Find them on RaceRaves, the best online race calendar and reviews community for runners!

Find races in Chicago: Central

Brewery Running Series. Numerous fun run events throughout the year that all start and end at local breweries.