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Best place to run where you aren’t supposed to run

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Rosehill Cemetery

Here’s what you do when the funeral home director catches you (all pulsing earbuds and flying feet). Cry. Immediately. This is the price of admission: tears poised like actors awaiting their cue. Say: “I come here to be close to my father.” No matter your father was cremated. No matter the director is already shaking his head. This is no Lakefront Trail with its double strollers and kamikaze cyclists. This is 350 acres of existential fodder: lonely angels and etched surnames; angry geese and fallen trees amidst aisles of silent stone. You run here because segregating the dead does nothing to honor them. Because respecting a rule’s spirit doesn’t mean you have to obey.

5800 N. Ravenswood

Best of Chicago 2014

Best place for bird watching

Audience Choice, Lincoln Park, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Lincoln Park

In the city proper, Lincoln Park wins hands-down. That includes the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (including the Magic Hedge), the Bill Jarvis Bird Sanctuary, North Pond, and South Pond (which is now called “Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo). Wooded Island in Jackson Park is also phenomenal and, like North Pond, has organized bird walks almost every week. Calumet Park on the far South Side, and the two new city parks at the old steel plant property (87th and Lake Shore Drive) are great, but under-birded. And LaBagh Woods at Foster and Cicero on the city’s Northwest Side can be really good, especially in the spring. And the big “central parks”—Douglas, Columbus and Humboldt—are good during migration.

Audience Choice: Montrose Point, Northerly Island

Best of Chicago 2014

Best craft bike maker

Sports & Recreation 1 Comment »

Legacy Frameworks

In the burgeoning realm of hand-built bikes, Legacy Frameworks is a standout. Making bicycles with frames manufactured by owner Levi Borreson, at first blush a Legacy bike looks Italian-made for its attention to sleek but functional design, and attention to detailing. A full list of outsourced parts included in the manufacture is available in a breakdown on their showcase page, which also lists frame styles and standard features including generator powered lighting and full fenders and rack. This is a bike made with geographically appropriate style and Chicago pride.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best hope for the Bears to win the NFC North

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Kyle Fuller

The term “shutdown corner,” an honor achieved in the NFL, is one that is hardly ever bestowed upon a rookie. Especially not six-weeks in. But Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller has achieved that tag faster than Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman did when they came into the league. Every week he surprises Bears fans and the coaching staff (and opponents’ wide receiving core) with how good he is and how great he has the chance of being.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best thing to happen on the South Side since Harold’s Chicken #17 opened

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World Basketball Fest

Who spends millions to build out a scaled-down basketball arena/shrine/museum, provide job opportunities for neighborhood people and brings the USA Basketball team (with Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis in tow) to a neighborhood—albeit on the lake—when so many other places and neighborhoods in the city would have been economically smarter and safer? You already know the four letters. For four days for the people on the South Side, it was as one kid said, “like Chiraq winning that Olympic bid.”

Best of Chicago 2014

Best pinball game in Logan Square

Logan Square, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Twilight Zone at Logan Arcade

The Twilight Zone pinball game, released by Midway/Bally in 1993, is an absolute highlight to Logan Arcade, an amazing space that’s chock full of tons of pinball and arcade games both new and old. With a challenging skill shot, ramps, and missions such as collecting Hitchhikers and battling “The Power,” this game never gets tiresome (actually, it’s addictive). As an added bonus, Rod Serling narrates amidst a great soundtrack of sounds with a genuinely tough, but engaging, multi-ball.

2410 W. Fullerton, 872.206.2859,

Best of Chicago 2014

Best pinball game in Wicker Park

Sports & Recreation, Wicker Park No Comments »

Metallica at Emporium Arcade Bar

Emporium Arcade Bar is home to one of Stern’s newer releases: the Metallica pinball game, equipped with the voices of the band’s members cheering on players. Classic hits from the band also accompany the fast-paced gameplay with the ramps being a highlight. There is a silliness to the game, too, as players earn multi-ball by striking the kid in the electric chair who is egging you on to do just that. With several versions of multi-ball achieved with varying degrees of difficulty, there is always a challenge, making this one of the more appealing and solid games from this Chicago-area manufacturer.

1366 N. Milwaukee, 773.697.7922,

Best of Chicago 2014

Best pinball game in Lincoln Park

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Medieval Madness at Headquarters Beercade

Medieval Madness is a hands-down classic. Released by Williams in 1997, it is a rare and wonderful beast consistently sought after by collectors and players alike, and Headquarters Beercade’s got it. Spiraling ramps, a catapult and a gamut of missions earn players jackpots and multi-ball. A bit over-the-top, it’s infectiously fun with a damsel heckling her rescuer for taking so long to save her and a drunk slurring humorous phrases to anyone who will listen. Of course the usual medieval-themed suspects are in it as well including trolls, a wizard, an evil king and a dragon.

2833 N. Sheffield, 773.665.5660,

Best of Chicago 2014

Best half marathon

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

The F^3 Lake Half Marathon

The F^3 Lake Half Marathon started out in 2010 as little more than a gag: Kimberley Stedman and some friends hoped to organize a race on the lakefront in the coldest month of the year. More than a hundred people participated. Two years later, the “official” race was established and promptly sold out 1,200 racing slots. In 2014, despite competing with a polar vortex, F^3 still managed to get a sold-out field of runners crazy enough to attempt 13.1 miles along the lakefront in January—and provided ample course support along the way. In a time when Chicago is introducing a new race every few weeks, this one is still a one-of-a-kind… though some masochistic tendencies are required for full enjoyment .

Audience Choice: Chicago Half Marathon,; Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, (TIE)

Best of Chicago 2014

Best bike-friendly addition to the Lakefront Trail

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Bike Part Vending Machine

Bicycling magazine named Chicago the second-most-bike-friendly city. New protected bike lanes and Divvy certainly help. But then we’ve always had great infrastructure in the Lakefront Trail, a convenient way to traverse north to south with expanding views of the lake and skyline. Lakeshore Bike shop installed a bike vending machine near Waveland Avenue, carrying necessities from inner tubes to locks. Its location near tennis courts may make it a bit off the path, yet knowing this exists is definitely a positive when needing a fix after bike shops are closed. Bonus: it accepts credit cards.

Best of Chicago 2014