Family vacation fun with city bike tours
Taking a family vacation to New York or Chicago? Try one of these city bike tours
Bicycling everywhere is what I miss most about my years living in the Netherlands. I brought my beloved omafiets back with me to the US, but that sturdy cruiser is not built for the 5 block hill between my house and the lakewalk path along Lake Superior. Or maybe I’m not built for biking hills… which is why I LOVED our recent city bike tours in New York and Chicago
While my husband’s idea of a cycling vacation is strapping on a month’s worth of supplies and heading across Iceland (yeah, that was pre- kids), I was delighted with our family afternoon ride through Central Park as part of a short family vacation in the Big Apple.
Walking is boooooring!
It was the last afternoon of our family vacation and the kids were complaining that all we do is WALK in NYC and walking is boooooring when my husband had the brilliant idea to rent bikes as we headed into the park. We had a great on a wide car-free path, saw parts of the park we never would have gotten to on foot, made a few stops at scenic overlooks and playgrounds and had a great time. The kids said later that the ride was the best part of our family vacation.
Last weekend we had an afternoon free in Chicago after a morning at the Dutch Consulate and decided to rent bikes again. Best decision ever! Chicago has an 18 mile Lakefront bike path along the shore of Lake Michigan that passes Grant Park with its huge fountain, Millennial Park with the famous bean sculpture and fountains to play in, sandy beaches, museums, Navy Pier amusement park and much more. It’s perfect for city bike tours!
We were able to cover a lot of ground without the kids getting tired. We had churros at Navy Pier and watched the giant Ferris wheel, ran around Buckingham fountain, parked bikes near Columbia College and had a great lunch with homemade potato chips at Artists Cafe. The only downer was the freezing cold wind off the lake which we should have been prepared for since we live on a great lake too. We detoured back to the hotel to change into jeans and grab the windbreakers.
You can rent bikes at most entrances to Central Park in NYC. Look for one that has a little shed- these usually come with a bike mechanic. In Chicago, we rented from Bobby’s Bike Hike, a few blocks from Navy Pier. You can also rent right at Navy Pier and a number of other locations around town. Pick one that’s an easy connect to the Lakefront path so you don’t have to bike in traffic. Half Day Rental is 4 hrs.
If you go
Be sure your bikes are in good working order before you head off: squeeze tires for air pressure, test brakes, shift gears, ask that seats and/or handlebars be adjusted until it’s comfy. Know how the locks work and use them every time you get off.
We just biked around on our own with the free map from the rental place but if you like a more organized family vacation, many companies also offer city bike tours. We were intrigued by the Bites & Brews tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike that promised microbrewed root beer and orange soda for the little ones. Maybe next time the Dutch passports need to be renewed we’ll try that one out.