Naperville offers plenty of places to break a sweat and a smile

Learn more

Residents can stay up-to-date on summer activities with the Naperville Park District at and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle introduced “The Morton Arb app” this year to the Apple App Store, allowing users to explore the grounds with guided tours and a GPS function that encourages further exploration of the 1,700-acre landscape.

Learn more about Green Valley, Herrick Lake and Blackwell Forest Preserve, all part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, at

Learn about Naperville Running Company’s training groups at

Everybody outside! Winter is really over. And it’s time for summer fitness and outdoor fun.

Naperville has plenty of reasons to enjoy the sun:

The waters of Centennial Beach are open for cannonballs.

The DuPage River Trail waits for bicycle tires.

And the Pickleball courts are freshly painted.

With an exciting lineup of outdoor events, miles of beautiful trails and numerous opportunities for exercise, Naperville residents should expect a summer of sweat and sun.

“When it’s cold and snowy, nobody wants to be outside,” said Kyle Brady, store manager of Naperville Running Company South, which hosts community training groups. “It’s a lot more exciting when the weather gets nice; you get a lot more sun and working out is so much more enjoyable.”

Serious training

The NRC’s training groups, which begin in June and July and continue through the summer, are tailored to prepare runners for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12 and the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon on Nov. 9. About 200 residents will embark on long runs and fun runs several times each week, with pace groups ranging from seven minutes a mile to 12 minutes a mile.

The summer, according to Brady, is prime time to train for fall racing.

“You have to get your body used to running those long distances, so it really does take a full four to five months of training,” Brady said. “Summertime is perfect for this.”

If the summer is perfect for training, residents planning to participate in the Naperville Sprint Triathlon on Aug. 10 should consider taking weekly training courses for the event.

The classes — which start June 13 and take place at Centennial Beach, the same location as the triathlon — will allow competitors to familiarize themselves with the open-water course. The triathlon consists of a 400-meter swim, followed by a 20-kilometer bicycle race and a 5-kilometer run.

Cyclists can prepare for the many organized rides by challenging themselves on the loop at Springbrook Prairie, the winding trails at Herrick Lake and McDowell Grove, and for the climbers, a sprint up the Greene Valley hill. Long-distance riders can find connections to the Prairie Path, the Virgil Gilman Trail, and traverse the DuPage and Fox Valley rivers along mostly paved or limestone paths.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists maintains a list of organized rides at Ride lengths vary from 5 miles to a century (100 miles in a day). The nonprofit has a list of bicycle clubs that will help you prepare for race day.

For recreation

While marathons, triathlons and training might not sound like summer fun to some, others looking for milder outdoor activities will find plenty to do at the many parks and trails in the area.

“Naperville has a unique, beautiful green space with athletic areas, natural areas and trails for people to enjoy,” said Sue Omanson, community development manager at the Naperville Park District. “We have a great combination of unstructured opportunities to be outside — running, biking, walking — or people can join in our organized activities.”

Naperville’s trails, such as the Riverwalk and DuPage River Trail, wind through the city’s 140 parks and facilities, allowing residents to hike, ride a bike and even get a full-body workout.

Two local parks — Commissioners Park and Meadow Glens Park — are lined with fitness stations, such as pull-up bars, that allow trail users to stop and exercise their core and upper body.

DuPage River Sports Complex includes a tennis court painted for Pickleball, an emerging sport that includes elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Residents with a Pickleball kit, including racquets, balls and a net, can enjoy the fresh, active game.

Fitness among trees

Those looking to find fitness in the woods can find it closer than you might think.

The Morton Arboretum, a 1,700-acre collection of trees and trails in nearby Lisle, offers families plenty of reasons to get physical. Kids can explore climbing structures and bridges built into the forest, and families can take spontaneous, drop-in classes at the Children’s Garden.

“Teaching kids through fun is a great way to get them involved in nature,” said Kelley Regan, public relations manager at Morton Arboretum.

Families planning to go to the arboretum should also consider Theatre Hikes, where actors hike with audience members between performances at different stations. Performances this year include: “Alice in Wonderland,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Enchanted April” and “Resurrected,” which will be staged on weekends during July, August, September and October, respectively.

Closer to home, Knoch Knolls offers trail hiking and riding, with technical single track for those with a mountain bike. Springbrook Prairie’s loop caters to everyone, from those in training to bird watchers to horse riders.

And Herrick Lake and Blackwell Forest Preserves are minutes outside Naperville’s borders. Both have crushed limestone trails with well-marked trails for fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Whether it’s Pickleball matches, Theatre Hikes, training groups or an afternoon at Centennial Beach, Naperville residents have no reason not to get out, get active and get fit this summer.

“Being active in the outdoors helps people connect with nature,” Omanson said. “It improves mood, promotes better sleep and boosts energy.”

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