Reminiscing about those carefree summer days of your childhood? Remember running through overgrown summer fields, splashing through creeks and chasing your friends on endless bike rides? Gas prices, a slow economy and bad airline travel have us all in a pickle, but it’s the last days of summer and we want to milk it for all it’s worth. So stop looking beyond the bounds of your city because you might just have your urban summer adventures right beneath your feet!
Paddle on, Chicago:
Blessed with beaches, bike trails and golf courses, the Chicago lakefront is the obvious choice for some elbow-to-elbow summertime fun however I recommend trying the wilds of the Chicago River instead. A meandering river populated by ducks, herons and muskrat, the Chicago River used to be labeled “toxic” because of all the sludge that had been dumped into it over the decades; thanks to the efforts of Friends of the Chicago River and other not-for-profit organizations, it’s been upgraded to merely “not for consumption.” Take advantage of this little-used waterway and catch some amazing views of the city while you’re at it: Friends of the Chicago River host a number of canoe trips (around $40) that will show you layers of the city you’ve never seen as you float past idyllic wildflower-laden riverbanks, active steel mills and towering skyscrapers. Kayak Chicago rents singles and tandems by the hour, and also leads 3 hour architectural tours into the Loop ($50), as well as Fireworks tours ($50) every Wednesday and Saturday night. Just don’t get into a water fight – the jury is still out about just how bad that water really is……
Get a Grip on New York:
You don’t have to be Spiderman to get vertical in New York City: put on some solid kicks and try bouldering across the 15-20 foot schist rocks strewn across Central Park. Rat Rock and Cat Rock, in the southwest corner of the park, are popular starting points for hours of bouldering fun, and are often populated by dozens clambering up, down and across them. Go to www.rockclimbing.com and www.climbnyc.com for more specific information and safety instructions.
Ride into the Sunset in Los Angeles:
Channel your inner Clint Eastwood and try this spaghetti western activity. Located just under the Hollywood sign, Sunset Ranch Hollywood has been offering rides overlooking the famed Valley below for almost 80 years. The Dinner Ride ($60 plus dinner) is 4 hours round trip on horseback to Viva Fresh in Burbank, where you enjoy dinner and the sunset before heading back for the hills. Giddyup, pardner!
Get High in San Francisco:
Launching from Mount Tam in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, the San Francisco Hang Gliding Center promises to give you a totally unique view of the city. All you need is 10 minutes of instruction before you get a bird’s eye view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Bay while strapped in to a qualified pilot. Tandem flights go 7 days a week, weather permitting – contact the center for detailed information.
Catch Some Air in Denver:
Get some goofy-foot half-pipe action at the Denver Skate Park, free and open to the public from 5am to 11pm. You’ll be old-school for sure if you’re using slang like gnarly, but shred that ledge and hit the rail for some sick fun on wheels!