We’ve all heard of the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and the Navy Pier. And, while those attractions are great for a few visits, if you go to Chicago often, you’re more than ready for a less toursit-centered experience. The real Chicago lies beneath they typical sites and is far more spectacular than just another tourist “hot spot”.
Chicago Eats and Drinks
When traveling, almost everyone wants to try the local food. While many tourists hit up Gino’s Pizza and other deep dish restaurants, consider moving off the beaten path and eating with the locals.
The Lion Head Pub is a great college hangout where a younger crowd can enjoy lively entertainment on big screen plasma TVs with draught beers. This Irish pub offers great food and is a favorite for Chicago sports fans. With its relaxed atmosphere, the Lion Head Pub offers a glimpse into the lives of Chicagoans. Grab a drink and watch the Blackhawks or Cubs with the locals for some insights into Chicago culture and a great time.
The Bongo Room offers breakfast, brunch and lunch for those who want to test out something new and different. Try their Cranberry & Yellow Corn Hotcakes or Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Flapjacks for breakfast. For those who don’t wake up until lunchtime, the Baby Spinach Golden Beet & Duck Confit Salad is a great choice. Chicago has long been known for its food, and some classic Windy City fare can be found at the Bongo Room.
Similar to the restaurant choices, why stay at the typical tourist hotel with so many under-the-radar Chicago hotels? While the Palmer House and Drake offer classic Chicago architecture and amenities, they can often be filled with tourists. Check out one of these unique hotels on your trip to Illinois’ shining city:
The Wit Hotel, located in the center of downtown features beautifully decorated, spacious rooms and great amenities. One quirky feature is their wake-up call service compliments of area actors who imitate well-known people. It is a fantastic way to wake up. The Wit also has a fantastic downtown location with easy access to the train and in walking distance from great shopping.
The Hotel Indigo is not your typical hotel. Decorated in walls of painted irises, blueberries and other “indigo” items, the Hotel Indigo has a relaxing and calming atmosphere. The vibrant colors will energize and make one feel as if they are in another land. This modern hotel offers a great contrast to the traditional look of Chicago. Choosing the Hotel Indigo is a great way to experience both modern and classic features of Chicago.
Attractions & Shopping
Instead of heading to Chicago’s off-Broadway theater district, take in a show performed by 33rd St. Productions. Part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, this company performs several times a year. Recently they have performed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The student production company draws locals from all over the city and offers high-class theater at a fraction of the price.
While the Adler Planetarium offers a unique look at the stars, the Northwestern University Dearborn Observatory is where you will find Chicagoans looking up to the skies. On Friday evenings the observatory opens to the public. The observatory dates back to the 1860s and has become part of Chicago’s history. This local feature is a great place to take in history and astrology while conversing with Chicago locals.
Don’t settle for touristy destinations when you visit Chicago. Research local student sites and Chicago travel blogs to find out where the tourists are and where the locals hang out. Visiting a few common areas like the John Hancock Building and the Magnificent Mile won’t hurt – you might even learn a bit about Chicago at these classic tourist spots. Just make sure to take in some quirky sites to truly appreciate Chicago’s culture and beauty.