Osaka Garden

Osaka Garden

Touring Hyde Park on two wheels is a pleasure. Large old trees shade the streets, historic mansions and other intriguing buildings line many blocks, and you can cover a lot of ground on the University of Chicago’s campus. Start your ride at the west end of the Midway Plaisance near the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E 56th Pl.; 773-947-0600). As you go, stop to look at the fascinating Fountain of Time statue by Lorado Taft. Roll east and you’ll pass several impressive towers—contemporary, in the case of the brand-new Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.) at Drexel Avenue on the Midway’s south flank—and Gothic structures.

A few blocks east, where the Midway meets Jackson Park, pause to enjoy the large circular garden, which billows with blooms throughout the summer. From there, cross Cornell Avenue and follow the signs to Osaka Garden, a tranquil oasis of Japanese-style plantings and rock groupings set in a shady nook at the edge of a lagoon. Then go south to explore the wilds of Wooded Island or head back north, across the Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge (where legend says the late crusading attorney may one day reappear), to a glade near the Museum of Science and Industry (57th Street and South Lake Shore Drive; 773-684-1414). From the north side of the lawn, where purple martins twitter from birdhouses on top of poles, the view over the lagoon to the museum’s palatial rear porch is worth the side trip.

Pedal east around the back of the museum and take the underpass, which will lead you to the wide, sandy bowl of 57th Street Beach. Immediately north, Promontory Point, the tree-shaded finger of land that stretches far out into the lake, offers breathtaking views north to the downtown skyline and south to Indiana’s steel mills. On Thursday mornings, stop first at Harold Washington Park, where the vendors at the Hyde Park Farmers’ Market can help you load a backpack for lunch at the Point. Unfurl your picnic at one of the park’s stone council rings—in the sun or nestled in the shade of pine trees.

If you’d rather let someone else do the cooking, explore the alfresco dining along 57th Street. Café 57 (1520 E. 57th St., 773-499-6381; items from $4.50), situated under the Metra stop, is a popular independent coffeehouse that sells a full roster of coffee drinks but also smoothies and sandwiches. Salonica (1440 E. 57th St., 773-752-3899; entrées from $5.50) is an unreconditioned Greek diner, rightfully famous for its gyro omelet. Medici on 57th (1327 E. 57th St., 773-667-7394; entrées from $8) has daily specials and a sunny outdoor patio. And the dine-in counter at Zaleski & Horvath MarketCafe (1323 E. 57th St., 773-538-7372; sandwiches from $4) opens right to the street; among its many delicious sandwiches, the Marty—grilled eggplant, Munster, red pepper spread—is a standout.