When planning a visit to The Second City for the first time, you will undoubtedly have that one coworker or friend who gives you a laundry list of recommendations, like strolling through Millennium Park while eating a Chicago-style hot dog or visiting “The Bean” before a deep-dish pizza dinner. While these are all worthwhile, it’s safe to say that this incredible city has more to offer than the big tourist attractions that made their way onto that list.
Chicago is full of small wonders at every corner, with history, art, and culture just waiting for you to explore. With so many activities to choose from and neighborhoods to visit, it can be hard to know where to start. Don’t fret. Here are a few off-the-beaten-path activities that even locals love.
Take an Unusual Tour
Everyone loves a good tour. And if you’re visiting Chicago for the first time, it’s a great way to get to know the city! When planning your trip, you’ll find big-name tours, like the city’s well-known architecture river tour, vying for your attention.
While there is nothing wrong with walking the path of a typical tourist, the city also offers unique excursions that give you insights into strange and quirky parts of Chicago’s past. For example, tours by US Ghost Adventuressend tour-goers on an epic journey through the city’s murkiest history, wrought with gangsters, abandoned asylums, and more. Take the road-less-traveled and see this unique city through a fitting lens.
Stop for a Show at The Neofuturists
Chicago is home to over 250 theaters.With productions to rival the Broadway stage and performances, Chicago boasts an incredible artistic community recognized internationally. But along with that level of recognition and quality comes a hefty price tag.
Want to experience theatre like a local and support indie creators all while spending less money? Visit the Neofuturists in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The show is never the same two weeks in a row, so you’re always in for a unique experience.
The experimental devised theater company creates new work constantly, performing 30 short plays in 60 minutes each night. The performers explore dozens of themes and styles within a structure, leaving the audience roaring in laughter and moved to silence from one play to the next. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that you don’t want to miss.
Visit Garfield Park Conservatory
Chicago is full of natural wonders. Ranking 5th among all US park systems,Chicago parks are genuinely great places to visit if you enjoy the greener things in life. But even with all this natural beauty, it’s well worth hopping on the Green Line “L” Train to visit Garfield Park Conservatory.
Open to the public 365 days a year for free, this conservatory showcases hundreds of plant species in greenhouses and gardens. Pop in for a breath of fresh air or soak it in and relax in the park all day.
Explore a Different Side of Chicago
Step off the plane at O’Hare and explore a city less traveled. Need some more pointers while you’re there? Ask a stranger. It’s the Midwest, after all; you’re sure to meet some friendly faces along the way!