Chicago is a notoriously flat city. Like a lot of the Midwest, the flatness in the Chicagoland area is a product of glaciers that repeatedly extended south and retreated north thousands of years ago – scraping most of the topography in their paths. However, even the shortest basketball team has its tallest player. Chicago’s “peak” runs along what has been dubbed “The Blue Island Ridge” – the edge of an ancient glacial ridge that runs along Beverly, Morgan Park, and Blue Island. Both of these neighborhoods are deeply rooted in Chicago’s railroad history and are vibrant communities ripe for exploration. Best of all, they are each located along Metra’s Rock Island Line and serve as prime starting and end points for a weekend biking trip.
In this week’s edition of #NowApproaching, we’ve outlined the ideal Blue Island Ridge bike trip. We did the research so you don’t have to. Follow the itinerary below for a classic Chicago adventure!
- Take a late morning Rock Island Beverly Sub Line to the Beverly 95th Street stop. We took the 12:10 p.m. departure out of Chicago LaSalle Street Station. Bikes are allowed on all trains during the weekend – just remember to keep a hand on your bike during the train ride so it doesn’t fall.
- Once off at 95th Street – Beverly Hills, say hello to our new friends, Two Mile Coffee Bar, right in the station. We grabbed a quick iced coffee to get our energy up for our ride.
- Next, walk a block west to Jimmy Jamm’s Sweet Potato Pies. This Chicago institution has every sweet potato treat possible. We grabbed a couple of slices for the end of our trip after getting to taste a couple of samples.
- Walk your bikes across 95th Street and start your bike journey! Longwood Drive is a Chicago Historic District and is bordered by dozens of historic homes in all different architecture styles. Leisurely ride south on Longwood while stopping to appreciate the beautiful homes. We meandered our way down Longwood Drive while also turning into the neighborhood streets to the west. Keep an eye out for homes with placards describing their architectural style and history.
- Longwood dead-ends into Vincennes Road. We took Vincennes Road down to 127th Street, turned right, and then made a quick left onto Western Avenue so we could ride down through downtown Blue Island. Once we reached downtown, we parked our bikes and hopped in and out of a couple of shops and bakeries. Three Sisters Antiques is one of the biggest antique markets I’ve ever seen!
- At this point, we were hungry and wanted to check out the stretch of bars and restaurants across the Little Calumet River. The bridge across the river is busy with car traffic so we recommend either biking on the sidewalk or just walking your bike. Once across, the little neighborhood feels like a classic Midwestern river town. There were a handful of options to choose from – Blue Island Brewing Company, Mario’s Tacos, Giuseppe’s Trattoria Italiana, but we were drawn to the outdoor patio at Rock Island Public House. Their patio was the perfect place to take a load off and have a beer and a meal. The husband and wife team in the kitchen make one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had – highly recommended!
- Once you’re ready to head home, check the schedule to see when your next inbound train is arriving at Blue Island – you shouldn’t have to wait long since they are now hourly for the summer!