Chicago's Division Street Farmers Market

Herbs and other plants at the Division Street Farmers Market

Chicago weather may be a fickle bitch, but we finally had a Saturday (June 18) that was one of those days that wipes away the memory of the long winter and drizzly spring. In taking advantage of the beautiful weather and walk-ability of this great city, a quick jaunt to the farmer’s market turned into a spontaneous Saturday that highlighted some of what I love most about Chicago.

The morning began with a hop on the L; destination: the Division Street Farmers Market. Two blocks of this usually busy, bar-lined city street are closed off every Saturday morning in the summertime and filled with farmers, bee-keepers, bakeries, creperies and the like.

Chicago's Division Street Farmers Market

Clockwise from top left: Portabello mushrooms; jars of homemade jam; bunches of radishes; kohlrabi; buckets filled with big flower blooms; baby green and yellow zucchini.

Pursuing the stalls, samples of Wisconsin cheese were enjoyed (there was an herbed variety that was particularly yummy), along with a caramel at Katherine Anne Confections. [I was lucky enough to get a giant box of Katherine’s caramels for my birthday this year; they are incredibly decadent, made with local Illinois honey and organic sugar, and will spoil you for any other sweet.]

Katherine Anne Confections

Yummy handmade caramels and truffles at Katherine Anne Confections

While I didn’t end up walking away with any of Katherine’s sweets this time, there were some flowers selected for the garden, a jar of raspberry jam, baby zucchini and a pint of peapods.

Nibbling the peapods, the sunshine and warm winds called to continue the trip with a walk to Lincoln Park, wandering up the Gold Coast past all the stately mansions along the way. Heading north on State Street, we past the original Playboy Mansion (1340 N. State St.), no longer sporting the “If you don’t swing, don’t ring” plaque in Latin above the doorway, having been converted in 1993 to seven “exclusive single family residences.”1

Entryway of home on N. Astor Street, Chicago, ILLuxuriant and overflowing white hydrangea framed the entryway to this lovely home on N. Astor

A quick jog on Schiller, then up Astor to continue admiring the old-money homes and their picture perfect front entries. And of course, to cap it all off , we walk past the eastern edge of the property of the Archbishop’s Residence, which seems to takes up the entire northern end of the block. The Cardinal does seem to have a nice vegetable garden going in the back near the coach house, and some lovely verandas.

Chicago's Lincoln Park -- Entry to Lincoln Statue

Lincoln Park — the park part, with Lincoln (the statue) way back there in the background

As I continued to enjoy my snap peas, we headed west on North to enter Lincoln Park (the park) through the beautifully landscaped entrance behind the Chicago History Museum that leads to the statue of Lincoln. In the height of summer, I love this spot for its profusion of color, and when I lived closer, it was a regular detour when I needed a good dose of nature. When you walk north under the passageways at W. LaSalle, the park opens up to softball diamonds (and the relatively new soccer field). While it’s never quite warm enough for me to swim in Lake Michigan, the beach is just over the bridge to the east. It might not have powdery white sands, being able to see skyscrapers from the beach is something kinda special. Meandering further north, we came upon the completed reconstruction of the South Pond. Sporting a new boardwalk and all manner of natural vegetation in place of swan boats, it’s turned out to be a beautiful gem.

The South Pond in Chicago's Lincoln Park

Clockwise from left: The new boardwalk around Lincoln Park’s South Pond; Looking out over the rehabilitated water; A duck swims

Stay tuned for part 2: The accidental walking tour continues!