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Forest Preserves of Cook County offers endless summer possibilities

The recreational, educational and peaceful activities available all summer in the Forest Preserves of Cook County encompasses virtually anything available at a lake getaway in Wisconsin or Michigan, and then some—just much closer to home.

“From active uses like hiking, zip-lining, swimming, boating, biking and golf, to more contemplative or relaxing activities like nature education, fishing, birdwatching and camping, the Forest Preserves has it all,” says Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “No matter what age you are, and no matter where in the county you live, you will find something that suits you.”

With so many options, there are endless ways to create your own adventure in the Forest Preserves this summer. Here are just four ideas to get you started:

1.    Camp at Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland. This facility offers 16 mulched tent sites, four small cabins, and 40-person organized group campsite. You can even rent the entire 159-person campground. There’s a clearing for activities, it’s a short walk to Sand Ridge Nature Center, and you can participate in weekend programming. Camping is available at four other Forest Preserve sites around the county as well.

2.    Swim at Cermak Family Aquatic Center in Lyons. This spot offers something for kids of all ages: play features, a water playground, children’s slides, a lazy river, and zero-depth entry. Days and hours vary, and weather may prompt temporary closings, so call (708) 447-0715 or check the Facebook page beforehand. The Preserves also has two other aquatic centers: Green Lake in Calumet City, and Whealan Pool on the Northwest Side of Chicago.

3.    Go boating at Skokie Lagoons near Winnetka. This 894-acre preserve features canoe and kayak rentals, or bring your own: The accessible Tower Road Boat Launch can accommodate anything from rowboats, to sailboats, to boats with electric trolling motors. There are many other boat launches and several rental sites in preserves throughout the county.

4.    Zip-line at Bemis Woods near Western Springs. The Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park includes the two- to three-hour-long Treetop Adventure Course, with

five zip lines, a “double Tarzan swing,” and a series of ladders, bridges, spider’s webs and trapezes; the hour-long Treetop Journey Course, with two zip lines; an Axe Throwing Range; and Treetop Nets for the little ones.

There’s so much more! Fish from the shore or from a boat, learn more about native plants and animals at one of our six Nature Centers, or golf on one of our 10 courses. See our Summer Guide (PDF) or online events website for additional ideas, details and locations.

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County

for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.

Source: Chicago Crusader