BIKE TOUR FAQS
Explorers, Bike Lovers, Friends, Family, and everyday people too! Our bicycle tours are designed for anyone that loves exploring great neighborhoods while hearing interesting stories about the history and culture that make Chicago a world class city. We have so many bike tours to choose from including ones appropriate to explore unique neighborhoods, the foods that made Chicago famous, Chicago nightlife, Chicago’s gangster history, and kid-friendly side to Chicago.
Yes, we provide water on all of our food tours. And most of our tours involve some sort of beverage, whether it be craft beer or hot tea.
We CAN provide food substitutions for vegetarians on ALL tours. Gluten-free substitutions are available on certain tours. While we try our very best to accommodate food allergies, we cannot guarantee certain avoidance from various food allergies. We would encourage you to ask questions along the way and see if our guide might recommend a substitution.
Sorry, we do not allow pets on any of our tours. Actually, you can bring a goldfish in a plastic bag. Actually, no don’t bring the goldfish either.
Yes, most of the restaurants we visit will have restrooms to use. We do recommend using the restroom prior to arrival to your tour, however, to expedite the start of the tour.
We change the tour slightly every six to eight months. Many parts of the tour remain the same, but we do our best to improve upon and enhance the tour. Don’t be embarrassed to come back for more and repeat the experience – many people do! We had one guest tell us he has taken the same tour 8 different times. When we mentioned he should look at one of the many other tours we offered, he stated no need. His reason is every time he takes the same tour he gets a different tour guide and each tour guide provides their own unique spin and presentation style. So if you come back to the same tour, be prepared for a new and engaging experience each and every time.
Absolutely! Many of our attendees live right here in Chicago or the outlying suburbs. Locals often attend to learn things about the neighborhoods and the city in which they live that they did not know beforehand. We mainly stay off the beaten path, and thus avoid being consumed by crowds. Locals (and those that want to feel like locals) can often get the MOST out of the tours since the tours are designed to show you how the locals live, work, eat, and play in each neighborhood we cover.
We offer pouches on the front of our bikes that allow you to store wallets, cameras, cell phones, and other smaller items, and you are welcome to keep any larger items back at our shop while you are out on a tour or rental.
No bike, no problem! We have hot deluxe comfort bikes for you to ride, and helmets to keep you safe. Each bike is labeled with a name that describes its personality but you can also tell them apart by their distinctive markings and behavior. They each have front pouches and back racks for storage of smaller items. Although we recommend riding our bikes, you can bring your own but we don’t offer any discounts for doing so. Moreover, due to so many types of bike makes and models, if you bring your own bike and have a mechanical issue it will be unlikely we will have the proper tools to fix the issue. But we will have the tools to fix any issues that might arise from use of our bikes. All of our bikes are deluxe comfort bikes with fat tires, cushy seats, and fenders to keep you clean.
You should wear clothes, of course, but beyond that you’re free to show your expressive nature in what you decide to wear. We recommend you bring small items such as an ID, credit card and cash (to tip the guide), cell phone, and camera.
We suggest tennis shoes and comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are appropriate for the weather conditions on the day of your tour. We strongly suggest you wear layers, particularly in spring and fall, as you can always take a layer off if you get too hot or add a layer if you get too cool. Many of our tours ride close to Lake Michigan, which is one of the largest lakes in the world and can alter the temperature quickly based on the direction of the wind. We offer pouches on the front of our bikes that allow you to store wallets, cameras, cell phones, and other smaller items, and you are welcome to keep any larger items back at our shop while you are out on a tour or rental.
Bike Tours:18-20 people per tour is the perfect number for most of our bike tours that do not include food. For our Kid-Friendly tours as well as our Bike & Food Tours, we max out at 15 guests per tour guide.
Our bike and cultural tours have been developed for a wide variety of ages, interests, and skill levels. But not all tours are appropriate for younger riders. Regarding seniors, we rarely hear that seniors have a hard time on our tours as long as they feel comfortable on a bike. The Southside Gangster tour is definitely our longest ride and might give the most issues. And seniors might want to beware of taking the tour in extreme temperatures. Regarding kids on our tours, not every tour is appropriate for younger riders. For instance, we do not recommend our Bike & Food tour participants for ages 17 and over due to the fact that we do go into bars in certain neighborhoods and the tour may not be appropriate for them. That said, we do realize that every child is different so we do leave it in the hands of the parents to ultimately decide what is ok for their child and what is not. It might be that you just sit outside during the stops that include the bar. We do encourage younger riders that are under 12 years old to take Bobby’s Tike Hike: Kid’s edition bike tour as well as our Museum & Parks at Sunset Tour (in lieu of the Night Tour). While many kids can handle our Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour, we have noticed that it’s not appropriate for riders 8 and under who are average riders for their age. Those kids would want to stick to our Tike Hike or Sunset Tours. Whether to bring your child is ultimately up to your discretion, but please note that ALL CHILDREN need a paid ticket. Our “under 4” pricing is deeply discounted and usually pays for the special equipment needed for your kids. A good rule of thumb to know whether a tour is kid-friendly to see if we offer kid prices on the tour. If no kid prices, it’s probably not the best suited. But again, it’s up to the parents to ultimately decide because all kids are different. For food tours, we assume that if your child is below age 3 than they will not be participating in the food tasting portion of the tour or that they might be sharing food with a parent. Therefore, for children below age 3, no ticket is required and there will not be a food portion dedicated to this child. If you’d like food for your child under 3, then please do purchase a ticket in advance. Either way, please indicate when you sign up whether you are bringing a child on the tour so that our tour guide can be prepared. Please also note that if you are bringing kids on our bike tours, you will need to indicate what additional equipment they will need during your reservation of the tour. We offer child bikes, tag-alongs, trailers, and child seats. If your child becomes unruly we would just ask that you step away from the group for a bit to calm your child down before returning to the group.
Enough biking that you’ll see a ton but not more than you can handle! The pace is usually good for everyone. We’ve rated each tour level so that you can pick the right tour for you. We do stop at various points of interest and attractions so that you can have a brief rest while our tour guides explain the history of Chicago in a way that brings the stories to life. While you want to make sure the distance we cover is suitable for you, remember that we will never be biking continuously for that amount of time. We will have 6-8 stops mixed in along the route for resting periods and to learn about Chicago.
Expect the very best. Our staff takes great pride in being the best in their field. So we don’t skimp on any of the details. All of our tours are different and they all go in various directions from downtown. Our staff has spent a lot of time and energy making sure that we bring the very best of Chicago to you on our tours. So each route is carefully detailed and every story is crafted to perfection to make sure you come away with the best Chicago experience possible.
“Strenuous” is not in Bobby’s vocabulary. All of Bobby’s bike tours are set at a relaxed to moderate pace for riders of all skill levels. In order of “difficulty,” they are as follows: “Bobby’s Tike Hike: Kid’s Edition” and Bobby’s “Museums & Parks at Sunset Tour” are each a quick two hours covering less than 5 miles, with a brief rest-stop along the way.
Both Bobby’s “Lakefront Neighborhoods Chicago Tour” and “City Lights at Night Chicago Tour” are set at a relaxed pace, covering about 6-8 miles in 3 hours, including a small break at a quiet, outdoor café/beer garden just in case you need a snack (snacks are ala carte and not included in the regular tour price; private groups can include breakfast/lunch/dinner with one of our partners in their package upon request).
Likewise, foodies on Bobby’s “Bikes, Bites & Brews Chicago Food Tours” cover about 12 miles in 4 hours, and there are lots of delicious breaks along the way. We call it “Somewhat Moderate to Easy.”
Bobby’s “Southside Chicago Gangster Tour” covers 12 miles in 3 and a half hours with a break as well. It’s a bit more moderately paced but not advanced.
Our bike tours are led by experienced Bobby’s Bike Hike tour guides. During our tours you will learn about the history and culture of the various neighborhoods and attractions we visit, as well as get to see Chicago the way Chicagoans experience their City. Bobby’s Bike Hike is one of the oldest City Bike Tour companies in the country, offering quality tours since 2002. We are proud to have put bike tours on the map in Chicago! Bobby’s Bike Hike Tours is a mid-sized local tour business that concentrates on details, organization, and accuracy. We will not show you anything unless we know about, believe in it, and love it! We use old school methods, modern technology, and a lot of personality with everything that we do. We focus on good honest food and fun, striving to make sure each person that takes our tours has a memorable Chicago experience.
ABOUT BOBBY’S BIKE HIKE
Bobby’s Bike Hike was founded in 2002 by Jeremy L, a then 27 year old ambitious (and slightly naive) newcomer to the Chicago tourism scene. He named the business Bobby’s Bike Hike as a tribute to his late father Bob, a bus tour operator in Arkansas who instilled Jeremy’s passion for travel and the tourism industry. Jeremy’s interest in healthy living and a clean environment inspired him to create an interactive bike tour that would let people truly experience the city he loved. Today, Jeremy continues to deliver on his father’s advice to never focus on being the biggest, only on being the BEST!
Yes, we do have bathrooms available. But because our bathroom can be in high demand, we strongly encourage that you use the restroom prior to your arrival to our bike shop. Many of our walking tours start at various locations around the City so we cannot guarantee a restroom at the very start of the tour, but we will have bathroom breaks along the route.
All of our regularly scheduled tours are given in English, but thankfully our humor is universal. We do offer private group tours in a variety of languages (French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and more). Just call ahead and we’ll make it happen.
First choice would be to walk to us. Chicago is flat and easy on the feet. Second choice for downtown tours would be taking a cab. Our shop and the Chicago Cultural Center are each a $5 cab ride from most downtown hotels. Third choice would be the local transit system’s trains and buses. If driving, here is the information below:
540 N. Lake Shore Drive. The entrance is on the south side of Ohio Street just west of Lake Shore Drive, just past the dry cleaner’s location. Please enter through the covered Driveway and once you’re through, turn right and follow the signs.
Parking: Please park at 441 E. Erie St., which offers the lowest rate in the neighborhood. Before leaving Bobby’s, ask us for a discount slip that reduces the rate to $14 for 6 hours. On Saturday and Sunday, you can park for up to 6 hours for only $12 and up to 12 hours for $16.
All of our walking tours begin at various locations around the City. We encourage you to use Google Maps or Apple’s Siri to find directions and parking/public transportation suggestions.
Bobby’s sought long and hard to find the perfect designers and suppliers for our fashionable and oh-so-comfy t-shirts, tech-shirts, and stylin hats. You can purchase them online via our “Shop/Service” page or in our shop. We’ll even knock 10% off if you buy it on the day of your tour or rental.
We’re glad you want to join one of the friendliest organizations in the world. We are always looking for tour leaders with a positive attitude, strong leadership qualities, and a passion for Chicago history; previous guiding experience is a plus as well. We are also looking for Front of House leaders who are looking to get more from their summer work experience. We strive to offer our employees more than just a ‘job’, but a positive leadership program that will make you a successful person in life. Email employment@ bobbysbikehike.com and include your resume, cover letter, and a picture so that we can see your smiling face.
At Bobby’s Bike Hike Chicago, we take great pride in being the best. We have been the top rated tour company in Chicago since such rating services such as TripAdvisor have been around. Why? Our tour guides make all the difference in the world. We take our time during the hiring process, making sure to bring on only the best guides. And then we put them through an industry leading training program to make sure they are the best guides they can be. This process ensures that our guests have the best possible experience they can possibly have. And we take great pride in that process. Our Culture is another thing that stands apart from most. You can feel our culture right when you enter our shop or join one of our tours. We all believe in four tenets of Travel, Community, Health & Service. How that breaks down is we think of ourselves as Ambassadors of your Chicago Travel, we look to build a better local Community, we promote both our health and the health of our planet, and we believe in offering the best customer service possible.
All of our bikes have pouches on the front which can hold sweaters, purses, phones, water, etc. If you have larger things, we can store them at the shop while you are out on your tour or rental. Families, feel free to leave your strollers with us. Unfortunately, our walking tours do not leave from our shop and so we have no storage capacity. Be sure to leave the extra packages, etc., at home or in the hotel before a walking tour.
GENERAL CHICAGO QUESTIONS
You’re going to learn a lot on our tours, but you can also receive City of Chicago information by going to the Chicago Visitor’s Center, located at the Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, where some of our walking tours begin.
YES! Chicago has consistently ranked as one of the top Cities in the country for biking and walking. It’s flat, attractions and neighborhoods are very close in proximity, and Chicago has extensive network of bike lanes, paths, and sidewalks to enjoy. Chicago boasts a 20 mile Lakefront Bike Trail, as well, that hugs Lake Michigan and connects all the major attractions to parks, beaches and Chicago’s top neighborhoods.
Oprah has moved out of Chicago, but her presence in Chicago is still felt to this day. Her old Streeterville penthouse is on our Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour route.
Barrack Obama has a house on the Southside of Chicago in Hyde Park. None of our tours get down there, but we provide bike renters a wonderful map to find his house and the Lakefront Trail takes you right to his beautiful neighborhood.
Chicago is called the City of Neighborhoods as it boasts a wide variety of distinct and diverse cultures represented from around the globe. While we could easily write a book a mile long on how many wonderful neighborhoods there are, we wanted to just list a few of our favorites here.
The Loop – Chicago’s business district and home to the highest concentration of Chicago attractions including the Chicago Riverwalk, Willis Tower, Millennium Park, State Street, Daley Plaza, and the Chicago Theatre.
Gold Coast / Streeterville – Chicago’s premier neighborhoods bordering the Lakefront, home to the most expensive properties in the entire City. This is where you’ll find the original Playboy Mansion, Oprah’s old Chicago condo, and countless other Chicago celebrities. It’s also where you’ll find the iconic Rush Street entertainment district.
Old Town / Lincoln Park – The quiet streets of Old town will have you believing you are a world away from the City, even though you’re right in the heart. The entire neighborhood is on the national historic register and streets are designed so that there is very little automobile through traffic. Many of our tours go through Old Town because it’s so nice to ride through. Lincoln Park is another upscale neighborhood with amazing boutique shopping along Armitage and adjacent park and zoo with same name.
Wrigleyville / Lakeview – Home to the Chicago Cubs. You can litteraly ride your bike to Wrigley Field as the Lakefront Trail connects downtown to the stadium, which sits just a couple blocks from the path. Wrigleyville is home to a number of bars and can be quite energized on game day. The surrounding neighborhood is Lakeview, home to a wide variety of eclectic enclaves including Boystown.
Andersonville is on the far north side and is Chicago’s original Swedish neighborhood. You can still see many of the original Swedish restaurants and shops today.
Wicker Park / Bucktown – Hipster central with great local shopping as well as trendy world-class boutiques. The epicenter of this cool neighborhood is North Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue. Worth a trip for sure.
Fulton Market / Greektown – Food, Food & more food define this area west of downtown that has quickly turned from Chicago’s old warehouse district into one of the hottest places to live and eat. Now home to Google and McDonalds Corporate Headquarters, this area is seeing some of the fastest growth among Chicago neighborhoods.
Pilsen – Chicago’s Mexican neighborhood where you can get some wonderful food, authentic flavor, and see beautiful art and architecture.
Chinatown – Chicago’s original Chinese community where you can witness all of the regions of China on full display with amazing food, colorful local shops, and an amazing street scene. Cermak and Wentworth is the epicenter of Chinatown.
Ukrainian Village – One of Chicago’s fastest growing real estate markets that mixes young Chicago families with old school Ukrainian and Eastern European traditions.
Bridgeport is home to Chicago’s hard working Irish and Italian families that have been the lifeline of Chicago politics and have helped build Chicago since the beginning. If you want to learn about old school Chicago, Bridgeport is your neighborhood. It’s also home to the Chicago White Sox.
Bronzeville is a beautiful African American neighborhood just south of downtown that has an amazing art and culture scene.
Hyde Park / Kenwood is Chicago’s established neighborhoods on the far Southside of the City and home to the University of Chicago and many old historic mansions, including Barrack Obama’s home.
Most of Chicago’s top attractions can be found along the Lakefront and in the downtown section of the City. A good rule of thumb to know is that the Chicago River runs east west right through the heart of downtown. So if you’re anywhere around the Chicago River, then you’re right in the heart of Chicago with easy access to most Chicago attractions. Those attractions include Millennium Park, Navy Pier, John Hancock Center, Historic Water Tower, Chicago Theatre district, Wrigley Building, Chicago Riverwalk, Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Chicago’s Lakefront, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, Daley Plaza, State Street, Oak Street Beach, Michigan Avenue. A little further north from downtown is Lincoln Park, the zoo, and North Avenue Beach, and Wrigley Field. A little further south of downtown is Museum Campus, Soldier Field, the Willis Tower, Union Station, and McCormick Place.
American Football – Chicago Bears play at Soldier Field
American Baseball – Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field (north side) / Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field (south side)
Basketball – Chicago Bulls play at the United Center
Soccer – Chicago Fire play at Toyota Park Stadium
Hockey – Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center
The local train system is called the ‘L’ because most of it is elevated above street level. It is operated by the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), which also operates the buses and maintains a universal fare system for easy transfers. The “Directions” feature on Google Maps has full support for public transit options in Chicago and is an ideal way to plan your route.
Paying: If you take the ‘L’, you must prepay by going to a station and going to the self-guided kiosk. A one way ticket costs roughly $2.25, and you can make two transfers for $0.25 each within two hours of paying a one-way fare. The bus costs the same as the ‘L’ and allows you to just hop on and pay cash, but cash riders have no access to transfers. The bus drivers won’t have change but they’re usually very helpful if you tell him that you need help getting to your location.
Metra is the fast rail line that takes you between the City and the rest of Chicagoland. The costs vary depending on how far you are going. It’s less expensive to buy your ticket at the station, but you can just hop on and someone will come around and charge you the fee. The Metra reminds us of a cattle truck but it is a fun way to get to and from anywhere outside the city. We recommend sitting on the second story for the best views.
Yes, absolutely. While we do have our issues with crime, the highest rates of crime are limited to just a few distinct neighborhoods far from the downtown visitor district. So while you might read about crime in Chicago, it’s not something you will or should ever come in contact with if you are staying in downtown or one of the connecting neighborhoods.
The 20 mile Lakefront Bike Trail is one of the best bike trails in the world. It’s 100% car-free and allows you to experience life as a local, while riding up to Chicago’s top attractions. The trail connects downtown to the adjacent neighborhoods, parks, and beaches giving you ample opportunity to explore. You can also bike into Chicago’s unique and diverse neighborhoods, including the 606 Bloomingdale Trail through Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Humboldt Park.
Weather: Coldest Months in Chicago. Temps can range from 10-40 degrees Fahrenheit
What to Wear: Dress in layers because stores and restaurants will likely keep things warm. Bring a warm coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and some good weather resistant shoes.
Weather: March is not as frigid as February, but you’ll still need a warm coat. March temps can range from 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Wear: Layers. Bring a weather resistant, warm coat and maybe gloves. It probably won’t snow, but it has been known to snow in April.
Weather: Spring usually means warmer temps and more sun, between 50-80 degree.
What to Wear: Layers. May and June can shift wildly in temps, depending on which way the wind is blowing. In May, a light spring jacket is probably the heaviest thing you’ll need.
Weather: Summers in Chicago are the BEST! Hot, but usually not too hot. On really hot days, the lake usually does a good job of keeping us mild. Temps range from 70-95.
What to Wear: Wear light clothing: natural fibers are best, especially cotton and linen. But you might need a sweater at night.
Weather: Fall in Chicago is quite nice as well. September gets a lot of sun, just not as hot as the summer. Temps range from 65 to 85 degrees. October gets a little cooler, especially at night. Temps in October range from 55 to 80 degrees.
What to Wear: Layers! Notice a trend? Days and nights can vary drastically, warming up during the days and getting cooled off at night. In September you can still wear summer clothes but bring along a jacket. October cools off around here, so you’ll usually need a jacket.
Weather: Expect highs in the 40-50 range in November and 30-40 range in December.
What to Wear: Bring a heavier jacket and consider a hat, scarf, and gloves.