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Shedd Aquarium

Wakeboarding 101

Apr 06, 2018 Outdoors & Regional

A person wake boarding sunset

Pro wakeboarder Timmy Burnier has good news for beginners arriving in Crystal Lake: “This is a lazy person’s sport. The less you do, the better.”

You can take up this trending sport—a mix of water-skiing and snowboarding—at Three Oaks Recreation Area’s Quarry Cable Park, about an hour northwest of Chicago. Just pull on a helmet, listen for Timmy’s voice through speakers inside, and grab the handle connected to the series of cables spiderwebbing over North Lake, the smaller of adjacent lakes in the recreation area.

In less than an hour, you’ll be racing across the lake with wind in your face and a spray of water behind you.    

Timmy coaches beginners in 45-minute private lessons, and after some practice, wakeboarders ride a longer cable on the 32-acre lake at speeds up to 20 mph while jumping off the lake’s floating ramps. 

People sitting down a fire-pit with a lake behind them

While You’re There

Adjacent lakes deliver a day’s worth of sports. For wakeboarding, head to North Lake. Larger South Lake offers the following activities:  

Go for a dip
Swimmers love the floating dock. As lifeguards watch the beach, little ones play at the adjacent splash park. The clear water makes it a spot that’s popular with scuba divers.  

Dip a paddle
With more than 3 miles of shoreline, South Lake offers kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders plenty of space to explore. For a one-of-a-kind time, rent a cute swan pedal boat or a pedal pontoon.

Play in the sand
Shore activities include beach volleyball, sunset yoga and live music most weekends. 

Take a hike
Follow scenic paths with native plants. Afterward, enjoy a picnic lunch under an umbrella.

Refuel at Duke’s on the Water
Chow on burgers, salads and more at a table inside or with toes in the sand at a shaded picnic spot. Done wakeboarding? Order a drink at Duke’s beachfront bar, and savor it in one of the Adirondack chairs.

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