6 Unique Things to do in Chicago That Every Local Should Know About

Check out the recent Redfin article written by Ana Guzman that Travel/Food was featured in.

If you’re living in Chicago, chances are you’ve seen popular tourist attractions like Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean, or have walked around the Navy Pier. Although these attractions make Chicago unique, have you ever wondered what else is out there? If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered Chicagoans to share their favorite unique things to do in Chicago to give you some fresh ideas. So whether you’re ready to shake up your routine or new to the city looking for apartments for rent in Chicago, check out locally approved attractions you want to take advantage of.

Are you looking to step back in time? The Art Institute of Chicago will help transport you as you like. The museum houses one of the country’s largest permanent collections and other centuries-old artwork.

1. You can’t go wrong with the Art Institute of Chicago

Martin, a local Chicagoan from SmartMoneyMatch, a network that connects the global investment community, recommends the Art Institute of Chicago when the weather is terrible. “It’s always worth a visit. It’s filled with masterpieces from every era, from Georges Seurat’s iconic painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte to Andy Warhol’s print of actress Elizabeth Taylor.”

2. Visit the Chicago River in the summer

In the summertime, Chicago becomes an outdoor oasis for all residents and visitors. From the various parks and the waterways, you’ll find a place you’ll love to explore.

“My favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is to go kayaking on the Chicago River in the summer,” says May, a Chicago local from Nutrition Happens, a space dedicated to health, wellness, and nutrition. “Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, there’s nothing better than soaking in the famous skyline views with a peaceful paddle down the river.”

Chicago local Jane Simon Ammeson agrees. “Rivers were the highways of the past, but the Chicago River offers uniquely modern adventures for me. I can paddle its waters and shiver at scary stories during a Ghost and Gangster kayak tour, and sip a Spanish Rioja while gazing at the city lights. I love to stroll along the Riverwalk, choose a favorite place to dine, and plan my next adventure while watching the boats go by.”

3. Take a visit to the Shedd Aquarium

A unique helicopter view of the John G. Shedd Aquarium on Lake Michigan, Chicago.

Bungee QC Fitness shares that their favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is visiting the Shedd Aquarium. “With over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates from around the world, the Shedd Aquarium showcases an impressive array of aquatic life. 

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the country’s oldest and most respected aquariums. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it.

4. Explore nearby neighborhoods

Chicago is full of charming neighborhoods like River North and Edgewater. You’ll indeed find beautiful places in Chicago that will blow you away within a matter of minutes from each other. So grab your shoes, head out the door, and get ready to explore.

“Chicago is a great city for food and family fun,” says Jenny and Sheena, local Chicagoans from “And Then We Had Kids” Podcast. “Park & Field, located in the Logan Square neighborhood, is an excellent restaurant for all ages, and they even host fun family events and a bottomless boozy brunch on the weekends. If you’re looking for a place to host your event, Park & Field features fee-free party rentals. And the best part is they’re dog-friendly.

5. Dine in local favorite restaurants

Whether you’re searching for homes for sale in Pilsen because of the authentic eats or just looking for hidden gems in Chicago, you’re sure to find something that will make your mouth water. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to check out the Irish Nobleman Pub on the West Side. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while enjoying the lush foliage, flowers & hummingbirds in the summer. The patio is lined with AstroTurf, so it’s like a green oasis near downtown Chicago – and that also makes it super comfortable for bringing my dog along. It’s not just a Chicago favorite spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; the summertime patio is an attraction on its own.

Are you looking for a fancy night on the town? Vess, a local from Bus Connection, a sophisticated transportation service, recommends stopping by Bavette’s Bar and Bouf. “One of Chicago’s finest steakhouse restaurants, Bavette’s Bar and Bouf is truly a hidden gem. Feel the swanky ambiance of a prohibition-era speakeasy, softly lit with red velvet wraparound booths and sultry jazz music soundtracks. It’s the most unique and intimate place to wine and dine.”

6. Go to any event hosted by Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds connects the community with secret concerts in unique spaces. You’ll receive the address of the event within 36 hours before the event. You’ll experience different shows, from musical genres and comedy to dance. 

“My recommendation for a unique thing to do in Chicago is to go to events hosted by Sofar Sounds,” says Emily from Mezz Entertainment. “Through this experience, you can attend intimate gigs throughout the city, like the loop and Lincoln Park. I love discovering new artists to listen to from these shows.” 

About Ana Guzman

Ana is part of the Redfin content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and life & style. Her dream house would be a contemporary style with lots of natural light.

Take a Baseball Road Trip This Season

Here’s the Best Pitch You’ll Get All Season:

Destinations in Three Neighboring States Team up to Create a Baseball-Centric Road Trip

              Now that Major League Baseball has finally started, a trio of baseball-oriented destinations in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland have organized the ultimate road trip for travelers who are ready to get out of their dugouts this year for a long-overdue “away game,” whether their roster includes kids, a significant other, or fun friends.

              The “Round-Tripper” is a baseball-themed triple play that encourages visitors to follow the path of the Susquehanna River as it winds its way along a 444-mile path, beginning, passing through and ending in three of the most baseball-centric places in America: Cooperstown, New York, the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, and Harford County, Maryland.

              COVID threw the travel industry a curveball over the past two years, but an idea that came out of left field during a conversation among a team of tourism officials eager to bring visitors back to their destinations has resulted in a collaboration that might just be a home run.

              This Is Cooperstown, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Visit Harford have teamed up to cross-promote baseball-themed tourism experiences in all three regions. Each has covered its bases by creating a list of baseball-centric attractions, sites and restaurants that visitors can find on all three organizations’ websites.

              Travelers can move north or south, and there’s a strong argument for each end. The Susquehanna River begins in Cooperstown, which would also be a likely starting point for visitors coming from New England or New York. But it could be just as satisfying to begin in Maryland – where legendary players were born – and move northward, concluding where only a fraction of the best players in the game also end up … at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

              Here’s a sample lineup, following the route south along the Susquehanna River:

  • Step up to bat in Cooperstown, New York, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” It’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, historic Doubleday Field, three bat companies (fun coincidence: the trees found near Cooperstown feature wood that’s considered perfect for bats), several memorabilia shops, baseball-themed breweries and distilleries, and a league of restaurants that serve incredible hot dogs.
  • On deck is Binghamton, New York, where travelers can catch a Rumble Ponies Minor League game before they choose to go one of two directions. The Rumble Ponies are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
  • Road trippers can then run for nearby Corning, New York, where a famous glass factory crafts fascinating glass bats. Or they can instead head to a different sort of factory — Factoryville, Pennsylvania – which is the hometown of Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Then it’s on to Scranton for a RailRiders Minor League game. If they time it right, visitors can take a historic trolley out to the ballpark to see the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees play.
  • Whether they’re coming from Corning or Scranton, third base is Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to both the Little League Hall of Fame, which honors the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and the Crosscutters, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays at the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the country.
  • Home plate on this direction of the trip is Harford County, a small destination with significant baseball history. It’s where both Ernest Burke, a record-holder in the Negro Leagues, and the members of the legendary Ripken family were all born. Burke is honored with a statue in his hometown of Havre de Grace, which is where the Susquehanna River ends as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Twenty minutes away, you’ll arrive in the town of Aberdeen and find The Ripken Experience, where Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill (both former Baltimore Orioles) teach young ballplayers to dream big as they play in mini stadiums that are replicas of the most iconic ballfields in America. You can end the adventure by watching the team Cal Jr. owns, the IronBirds, a High-A affiliate of the Orioles, take to the field.

There’s no home-field advantage on this tour; each destination is prepared to support its neighbors with the intention that everyone involved will score a hit. The regions are ready to welcome visitors, and those visitors – from rookies to the most seasoned sluggers – will find museums, memorials, restaurants, hotels and small businesses that offer historic insights into baseball while also celebrating the fun and nostalgia of America’s pastime.

Along the way, they can watch games being played by kids, college students and Minor Leaguers aspiring to make it to The Show. The routes outlined on the tourism websites indicate travel distances and the suggested amount of time for visiting each attraction, though the destinations welcome anyone who’d like to stay for extra innings and spend a little more time discovering what makes each place special.

              For more information about the Round-Tripper, a baseball-themed road trip through three states, you can visit the websites of each of the collaborative destinations that assembled the tour. Here’s a link that takes you from Cooperstown south, and here’s the one that begins in Harford County, Maryland and heads north.