Des Plaines is a relatively unknown suburb of Chicago, but boy is it beautiful. It has that adorable small town feel, but also happens to be surrounded by wooded areas perfect for cycling. The River Park is a must-see for anyone with a bike, as the scenery is simply breathtaking. There are many other hikers and cyclists in this area, so feel free to get to know them and add to your roster of biking buddies. Des Plaines is also the site of the first McDonald’s, so it’s not a bad idea to stop by after a nature-filled ride.
Much to the surprise of many, Chicago is not the capital of Illinois—Springfield is. And it truly is an awesome place to explore on a bike. The Capital Building is incredible, and the streets around it are littered with cool tours and things to do. But if you’re there purely for the nature and cycling, be sure to venture out to the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, where there are more than 40 acres of unadulterated beautiful flora and fauna.
Wilmette is a city just north of Chicago, but it often seems like it’s in a world of its own. The small town reads very Stars Hollow—the fictional town in Gilmore Girls—but the entire town is bordered by the gorgeous Lake Michigan. Gilson Park is a fantastic place to take a leisurely ride while looking at the lake. One must-see landmark is the Baha’i House of Worship, which is one of the most heart-stopping buildings in the world.
If you fancy going from the Baha’i House of Worship to somewhere new, Evanston is a short ride away. Home to Northwestern University, Evanston is an awesome place to explore and cycle. There are paths by the river, and downtown is really bike friendly. You may run into quite a few college kids, but overall the bike lanes are free and open, which is fantastic for a downtown area. Plus, the architecture in the area is straight up unbelievable.
Glen Ellyn is an enigma even to some Illinois residents. The tiny town is just west of Chicago, but is unforgettable. The area is a mix between old and new, and the places to bike hold that same tone. There are nature-filled routes, including an adorable lake, and the downtown will feel like you’re stepping into a vintage film. The place is bike and family friendly, so all ages can enjoy a ride.