If you are a fan of the farm to table movement, and green spaces in urban areas, Lakeview has some gems that you will be sure to enjoy. Recently, when family was in town from San Francisco I put together a “green walking tour” for us to enjoy on a pleasant summer Thursday.
We headed out from the Inn and walked down Belmont to the lake where we took the Chicago Lakefront Trail south to Fullerton. While the nearby attractions of the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Peggy Notebardt Nature Museum are great places to visit, I wanted to show our guests something a little off the beaten path.
On the south side of Fullerton between Cannon and Stockton drives there is an entrance to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, a Chicago Landmark, and beautiful example of Prairie School Landscape design. Once inside the gates you‘ll find it hard to believe there’s a bustling big city just beyond the peaceful pool where dragonflies buzz over waterlilies, and bunny rabbits romp in the native grasses and plants that surround the stone walkways around the pond. This is a great place to sit quietly and just take the beauty. After circling the pond we headed back out and crossed Fullerton and headed north through the North Pond Sanctuary. We stopped for a little picnic refreshment and were thrilled to see a great blue heron glide over the pond.
Next we headed up to Diversey and walked west about a mile to Lincoln Avenue. Just a few blocks north on Lincoln we stopped at the People Spot next to Heritage Bicycle. I’ve written about this neighborhood gem before it so unique I had to include it again. This parking lane turned green space is one of just a few such innovative spaces. According to the city of Chicago’s website “The Department of Transportation’s Make Way for People initiative aims to create public spaces that cultivate community and culture in Chicago’s neighborhoods through placemaking.” We had a bit of a rest here while enjoying a cup of coffee purchased from Heritage Bicycle. (On a side note, I’m glad to report that Heritage now offers Almond milk, in addition to milk and soy products).
Coffee in hand we continued our green walk north on Southport, window shopping our way up to the Southport “el” stop on the Brown line, which on Thursdays, from 4 pm – 8 pm, is now the site for the Low-Line Farmer’s Market. The Low-Line market is a small farmer’s market compared to others in the city but it boasts an impressive selection of vendors from produce and pasture raised pork, to soy products, fine chocolates, and artisan breads. You can even get your kitchen knives sharpened here. I bought some fresh picked strawberries from Piedt’s Farm (Michigan) for the breakfast table at the Old Chicago Inn. Our guests bought some chocolates to take home with them. For more information about this market and a full list of vendors check out http://www.lakeviewchamber.com/ssa-27/low-line-market-.aspx .
By now we were all ready for a rest and some dinner. I had one more place for our guests to see. I had called ahead to make reservations at Uncommon Ground restaurant, 3800 N. Clark, currently hailed as the “world’s greenest restaurant” by the Green Restaurant Association. Uncommon Ground follows the principles of the farm to table movement and gets its products, produce and meats, from sources as close to home as possible. The also grow their own herbs and vegetables on their rooftop and in sidewalk planters. We started our meal with the Korean fried calamari, enjoyed salads, and a taste of their mushroom bisque. The two favorite entrees were the Lake Superior whitefish, served with fresh peas in a buerre blanc sauce, and the roasted chicken breast with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. I recommend outdoor seating among the herbs and definitely, call ahead for reservations. The average entrée is priced between $18 – $28.
Sated and happy with our full day, we finished the tour with the last bit of our walk back to the Inn. All together we had walked about 6 miles. If you want to follow our route use this link to see my Google map of this tour: http://goo.gl/maps/Z0JVM .
Enjoy our greener Chicago this summer!
How are we working on being green at the Old Chicago Inn? Our house keeping policies keep laundry to a minimum; we use CFLs; recycle glass, paper, cardboard and plastic; we do not use Styrofoam products at the Inn; and we donate partially used and discarded bath products for reuse in at risk countries through the Global Soap Project .
Our sister business, Trader Todd’s, is also making changes; they are now sourcing pasture raised poultry and pork from Gunthrop Farms in Lagrange, Indiana and featuring grass-fed, pasture raised beef from Quarter 7 Ranch in Morengo Illinois.