– OR –

the second installment of ‘Things to DO in Chicago’!

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not technically a Chicago native.  Despite the fact that I, as a young child, declared myself “a big city girl” (and will never live that down thanks to my mother and grandmother) – I was actually born and raised in Northwest Indiana.  Crown Point to be exact.  That corner of NWI (also known as ‘the Region’) was a strange place to grow up in – we had Chicago radio and television (I didn’t know that fertilizer commercials existed until college), but were still in this weird pocket of people who all ran away from city living.  I won’t get into every minute detail, you’ll just have to trust me that it was kind of strange.


The fun part was that we got to go on field trips downtown Chicago.  We got to go on the archetechtural tours, and go up in the Sears Tower, and visit various museums – totally fun.  So by the time I actually moved up here to live in Chicago – I sort of felt like I’d seen everything there was to see.

Man, was I wrong.

So if you live here (or don’t live in Chicago but want to see fun Chicago things) – there are lots of things you can do to get that local-touristy feeling back.  Here are some of them:

we’ve got HISTORY!

– The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N Clark.  There’s always some sort of neat exhibit going on – right now there’s one on Chicago the band, and about the 1909 Plan of Chicago (Daniel Burnham).  Also about Catholics in Chicago and about local coture clothing designers.  But what I’m REALLY looking forward to is the whole Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial program.  If you aren’t a Lincoln fan though, there are lots of smaller exhibits that are both temporary and year-round.  It’s a very low key, fun place that is a great way to spend an afternoon.  Admission for adults is typically around $14 – or you can get a membership for around $40.  Membership gets you free admission, members only events, and the Chicago History magazine.

we’ve got CULTURE!

– The Chicago Cultural Center is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.  Last year I went to the opening night gala of the Chicago International Film Fest, which was held upstairs under the dome, and I spent almost as much time ogling the walls and ceiling as I did ogling the film people.  There are pretty much always things going on, including several exhibitions.  The most interesting one right now (in my humble opinion) is the Deceptive Design: Experiments in Furniture.  This goes on through January 4th – so get there while you can.  The center is located at 78 E. Washington St. – which makes it a great stop if you’ve decided to walk the parks along Michicagn Avenue as part of your “I wanna be a tourist” day.

we’ve got BOOKS!

– Yes, I’m a library nerd.  When you’ve got an appetite for books that overshadows both your budget and your shelf space, you learn to love a good library.  And libraries can be touristy too!  First up, The Newberry Library .  Located at 60 W. Walton St. in the South part of the Gold Coast (far enough away from the Viagra Triangle to still be pretty) – it overlooks both a park and the Scottish Rite Cathedral.  The lovely thing about Newberry is that it’s free!  Including the exhibits.  So you can not only be touristy. You can be CHEAP and touristy.  Right now they have an exhibit on 700 years of children’s books.  Keep an eye out for the Aesop’s Fables from 1485. 

Another fun library to visit if you’re doing the Loop thing, is the Harold Washington Library.  The library is located at 400 S State St, and has it’s own Brown Line stop.  I’ve never been to an event, but I know that they have some from time to time on the Chicago Public Library system website.  Harold Washington Library specific information is located here (http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/harold-washington/).

we’ve got NATURE!

– The Peggy Notebarert Nature Museum is located in Licoln Park, more specifically at 2430 N. Cannon Drive, which is just north of the Lincoln Park West / Fullerton intersection.  I personally think the greatest thing about the Nature Museum are the butterflies, but I’m extra partial to butterflies (as you may well know).  Even in the winter you can find out all about butterflies and even watch them – they live in a greenhouse.  The butterfly specific information is here (http://www.naturemuseum.org/index.php?id=114).  If you’re feeling especially green-minded they have a few different exhibits on being green and nature friendly.  Right now too there’s an exhibit about the dark and how things look/feel/smell/etc in the dark.  The “In the Dark” exhibit only runs through Jan 11 though, so get there quick!  Various programs will cost different amounts, so be sure to check before you go.  Membership gets you all kinds of discounts, including free admission, the Chicago Wilderness magazine, and also (and this part is really neat) discounted or free admission to a ton of other museums locally, nationally, and globally.  If you’re a museum person, totally worth a look-see.  And a single year admission is around $42.

we’ve got the CLASSICS

– So if you’re really interested in the typical tourist attractions, you can also check out the “Mag Mile”  (do people really still call it that?).  Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and of course, shopping.  Watch out for the real tourists, though.  They may not bite, but they travel in packs!

There’s also the Sears Tower – especially the Skydeck. Totally a fun way to spend an hour or so on a pretty afternoon.

Last but certainly not least would be Millennium Park  – just as much fun in the winter as it is in the summer – especially the ice rink!


So there you have it, people!  Fun things to do while you’re being a tourist in your very own backyard.  Enjoy! 

TONIGHT, however, I am not doing any touristy type things (well, not exactly).  Tonight is the Chicago Geek Girls Game Night at Dave & Busters . I’m looking forward to some drinks and getting my rear end handed to me in all the games.  Because as much as I love to PLAY the games (especially skee-ball) – I’m really NOT GOOD at them.


Also I would like to say that yes, I know that there are lots of things missing from this list, like the Museum Campus spots and Oz Park, and LOTS of others.  But you guys already KNOW about those – these are some other options.  Plus otherwise this list would take sixty five hours to read, and then you’d NEVER make it outside. 🙂