The official user's manual for sunshine

Cooling Off: Sneaking in to swim in the Jazz-Age glory of the Hotel Intercontinental pool

Swimming & Beaches No Comments »

By Margaret Wappler

In order to slink into the waters of the opulent Hotel Intercontinental pool, I needed stealth, charisma and slap-it-together brains. I was game for the challenge. If you’ve seen a picture, or have been lucky enough to dip your toe into the water of the Junior Olympic-sized pool tucked away in the towering Hotel Intercontinental, you can see why.

This is not a pool enclosed by grubby concrete and piss-warm from a thousand neighborhood kids. It’s an encapsulated lake, surrounded by Moorish decadence—Spanish tiles, marble pillars, cast-iron chandeliers. Formerly part of the old Medinah Athletic Club, the splendid architecture calls into mind a castle in the Moors, retooled with
Jazz-Age snazz. Read the rest of this entry »

Spoil the Rod: Reeling in the city’s best offerings for fishermen

Fishing, Swimming & Beaches, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

By Ellen Fox

You don’t have to leave town anymore to spend a day waterside with the rod and reel. Yes, you can go fishing right here in Chicago—on the Lake as well as on the much-maligned Chicago River—and this summer the folks at the Chicago Park District are seeing to it that you’re encouraged to catch some.

“Clean-up efforts have revitalized the water and revitalized the fish, ” says Park District special project manager Bob Long (“the fishing guy”), and over the last few years, word of better fishing has really gotten around, says Henry Palmisano of Brideport’s stalwart Henry’s Sports & Bait Shop. Should you need any more proof of the renaissance, the prestigious Bassmaster Classic will be held along the Lakeshore—its first time in Chicago ever—this July. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature calls: Close camping

Living Arrangements, Parks & the Great Outdoors, Swimming & Beaches, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

The only real cure for the city is to get out of the city. Luckily for Chicagoans, there are literally thousands of camping opportunities, many of them 100 miles or less from that little patch of green in your front yard you call nature. Within the tri-state area (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan)a number of parks and preserves offer everything from hang gliding to hiking that will take you far enough to forget the office, but close enough to still be in cellular range. The following is a mere sampling of what is available to the weekend camper. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun Worship: Beach-blanket bingo

Swimming & Beaches, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

With more than 4,500 miles of coastline, the Great Lakes region offers the beach-bound a diverse selection for building sand castles. While a car ride of less than two hours will take you to several fantastic natural beaches carved out around Lake Michigan’s historic sand dunes, a walk or a bus is all it takes to reach Chicago’s rather extraordinary string of 28 lakefront public beaches. Chicago’s beaches, like the city itself, offer a lively ethnic mix of revelers, as well as a level of upkeep that ranges from excellent to sadly unkempt. Oak Street and North Avenue have fairly established reps, but here’s a sampler of some spots you might not have discovered, organized from south to north. Unless noted, beaches are guarded from 9:00am to 9:30pm daily from June to Labor Day, and have both changing facilities and concession stands. Read the rest of this entry »

People’s Park: If Grant Park is Chicago’s front yard, then neighborhood parks are its familiar and intimate backyards

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Swimming & Beaches No Comments »

By Dale Eastman

Javier Torres knew the sounds and smells of Harrison Park even before he’d arrived in Pilsen, on the city’s Southwest Side, just a month ago. Torres’ father was for years part of the regular summer migration of temporary workers between Mexico and Chicago. Since money was always tight, tales of summer ballgames and sweet mangos bought from street vendors were often the only offerings he’d bring home to his son.

Factory work was what brought Torres’ father to Chicago, and Torres, an engineering instructor in Coahuila, Mexico, who’s now on summer sabbatical, tried it for a while, too. But working six days a week, 10-12 hours a day, for only $4.25 an hour didn’t suit him as well as it had his father 30 years before, and the tall and wiry Torres often found his thoughts wandering back to the park. Read the rest of this entry »