Chicago is a sprawling city with an almost impossible amount to see and do, and you certainly won’t do it or yourself justice by only sticking with the tourist attractions. Luckily, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path attractions that are just as interesting and unique. Here are ten of our top picks.
1. The Rookery Building
This historic office building in the Loop boasts a stunning atrium with intricate ironwork, a stained glass dome, and a light court that floods the space with natural light. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor, it’s a must-see for architecture buffs.
2. Promontory Point
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, this lakefront park offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline and is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, and birdwatching.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory
This massive greenhouse on the West Side houses a vast collection of tropical plants and boasts stunning displays of flowers, water features, and sculptures.
4. Calumet Fisheries
A well-kept secret among locals, this South Side fish shack serves up some of the best smoked salmon and catfish in the city. Even the legendary Anthony Bourdain paid a visit back in 2008!
5. Chicago Riverwalk
While the Riverwalk has become more popular in recent years, it’s still a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy a stroll along the water. There are plenty of hidden gems along the way, like the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum.
6. The Oriental Institute
Located on the University of Chicago campus, this museum showcases artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Near East, including mummies, hieroglyphics, and Assyrian reliefs.
7. Glessner House Museum
This lesser-known historic home in the South Loop was designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and boasts a stunning interior with original furniture and artwork.
8. Logan Square Farmers Market
While there are plenty of farmers markets throughout the city, this one in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood is particularly lively and diverse. You can find everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts to live music.
9. Little Village
This predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood on the Southwest Side is full of colorful murals, delicious taquerias, and unique shops selling everything from imported spices to religious icons.
10. The 606
This elevated park and trail system on the Northwest Side was once a railway line and now serves as a beautiful public space for walking, biking, and enjoying the outdoors. Along the way, there are a variety of art installations, gardens, and community events.
We hope this list gives you some inspiration for exploring Chicago beyond the usual tourist traps. Happy adventuring!