Chicago Excursions and Such
Collected by Matthew Keesecker , AFAR Local Expert
A world-class city with a multitude of activities at your doorstep, Chicago truly has it all. In this hit list of excursions, you'll find things to do, places to eat and drink, and stores to appease your shopping appetite. Make it a weekend or a week, there's lots to do in this town.
201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust. For my inaugural highlight on AFAR, I am starting with my wife's favorite quote, and a local sight in Chicago. Sometimes people feel they...
Streeterville, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
The architectural boat tour of downtown Chicago is the single best way to see this city in a whole new way. From first-timers to lifers, it doesn't matter how long you've been in town, this perspective is going to be new to all. There are many...
6300 W Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714, USA
I know, you're asking yourself, 'When did they put a reflecting pool in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?' Weird question, with an even weirder answer. This tilted structure is located in Niles, IL and is a recreational park for employees of the...
100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091, USA
Suburban Chicago isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of major religious centers. But Wilmette, a small town located less than 10 miles north of the Windy City, is home to the only Bahá’í House of...
330 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
By the Clark and Webster intersection in Chicago, you'll come across this intriguing art installation: a tribute to all the sister cities of Chicago around the world. Part of a school project that will undoubtedly inspire your kids, a group of...
5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Anyone who's into model trains should visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Originally opened in 1941, The Great Train Story was the largest model train of its day. After being briefly shuttered in 2002 for extensive additions, this...
Edgewater Beach, Chicago, IL, USA
For those of you that want something truly unique, off-the-beaten-path, and not-to-be-found-in-a-guidebook-to-Chicago, I give you the Full Moon Jam. I've lived here for almost a decade and didn't even know about it until recently. From May through...
McCormick Blvd, Skokie, IL 60076, USA
Located a bit north of downtown Chicago is the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park. This two-mile stretch of McCormick Boulevard runs north/south between Touhy Avenue and Dempster Street and features over 60 incredible sculptures. The one featured...
2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Lincoln Park is a wonderful green area nearing Lake Michigan in Chicago. It has a Zoo free to the public as well as green lawns and flower beds. Near the North end is the multiple room conservator. Like the rest if the park it is open free to the...
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Schwa is kind of a difficult place to describe; it's such an eclectic bundle of everything, you just have to experience it for yourself. The exterior of the building makes it look like it should be condemned, but it's actually structurally sound....
1314 W Wrightwood Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
A Chicago institution since 1992, Rose Angeli's is a quaint establishment tucked away within a cute neighborhood in Lincoln Park. It's actually a house, which makes it that much more endearing, since as you stroll the tree-lined streets, you don't...
2656 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
It's called Goosefoot. It's up in Lincoln Square. It's far away from the 'food scene' of downtown Chicago. It's run by a lovely couple. He cooks, and she runs the place and makes you feel like you are at home. It's spectacular. Chef Chris Nugent...
3411 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Boasting the slogan 'Meat free since '83,' The Chicago Diner isn't going to win everyone over. However, if you are vegetarian, or even want to get your vegan on, this is the place for you. With an extensive menu of food and drink, the friendly...
953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Next is famous for its ever-changing theme menus. The most recent is "The World's 50 Best Restaurants," featuring dishes created by the world's best chefs and curated by the Next team. When I was there we ate the centerpiece, and the floating...
2100 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618, USA
Victory's Banner is a lovely establishment tucked away in the Roscoe Village area of Chicago. It's zen-like vibe and cozy atmosphere will entice anyone to come for a coffee and end up staying for a full blown meal. VB also is totally vegetarian,...
65 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Tesori is a new Italian restaurant located in the heart of the Loop. It features a wonderful bar area to pop in for a quick drink, or a large dining room for a more in-depth food experience. But the real treat is that it's located in the same...
1700 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
If you are in Chicago and have a hankering for some great sushi, you have a ton of choices at your fingertips. I'm just gonna tell you about one, or maybe two. Located in Bucktown is Coast Sushi, which is BYOB, difficult to get into, but always...
2747 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Located in Lincoln Park, Atlas Brewing Company is far from your average bar and grill type of place. They brew outstanding beer on site (which you can view as you eat), they make epic cocktails (show above), and their food can hold its own against...
2959 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Heritage Bicycles General Store is so many things: a coffee shop, a general store, and a place to buy a few key items for your hip closet. Most importantly though, it's a place to grab a cup of joe and watch art being created that you can ride...
4839 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
Tucked away behind an unassuming storefront you will find a shop with a misnomer of a name: Ravenswood Used Bookstore (it's located in Lincoln Square, not Ravenswood). Our hero and proprietor, Jim, has gathered such an incredible collection of...
1208 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
If you like sweets, baked goods, copious amounts of sugar, and the smell of heaven wafting through the air, then this is the place for you. Sweet Mandy B's is THE destination for truly outstanding baked goods, and it's right in the middle of...
2601 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Located in Logan Square, and featuring one of the more eclectic wine lists I've seen in a while, Telegraph Wine Bar is the perfect place to swing by for a leisurely bite to eat and drink. The antique fixtures and lights provide a bit of a...
2900 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
Started in Chicago in 2009, and slowly making its way throughout the U.S., Bottle & Bottega is hands down one of the coolest and unique new ideas to arrive in the Windy City. Founded by two enterprising young women who ditched the corporate gig to...
550 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
Take a vacant lot with crumbling buildings overrun with weeds. Remove the debris and overgrowth. Then add passion, volunteers, fresh organic produce and a mission to improve sustainable living, and you have City Farm of Chicago. Located in a lot...
222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Home to all things shopping, the Merchandise Mart is the crown jewel of the all-powerful Chicago retail scene. Housed in an historic building (which you can see like above from the Architectural Boat Tour), this market mecca welcomes over 10...
1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
Dinosaurs, pyramids, cave paintings, sharks—if you don't like the Field Museum then you must never have been a kid. Home to an extensive assortment of magical displays highlighting all facets of natural history from around the world, the...
111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Just imagine having 264,000 square-feet of modern art at your disposal seven days a week. That is exactly what you have if you visit the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Above is but one example of the funky-cool exhibits that await...
5751 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
For 50 years, it has been growing in the basement of the seminary located at 5757 South University Avenue. Back in 1961, 17 book lovers each pitched in $10 a piece and founded The Seminary Co-Op Bookstore. When you arrive, you won't think you're...
5947 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660, USA
If you happen to be in the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago, up on North Broadway, you simply must make it a point to visit Independent Spirits. Residing among other boutique shops and eclectic storefronts, this gem of a wine shop is waiting to...
130 N Northwest Hwy, Park Ridge, IL 60068, USA
When you hear "suburbs," you don't necessarily think "sushi." If you happen to be in the 'burbs of Chicago, though, BluFish Sushi Bistro is a great destination where you can really get your sushi on, and it's a pretty trendy spot. The restaurant's...
3 S Prospect Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068, USA
If you are in need of a "professional unwinding," then the Body Repair Shop is waiting to help. With an array of services ranging from massages to trigger-point therapy to aromatherapy and guided meditation, everything you need to get re-centered...
5701 Howard St, Niles, IL 60714, USA
You are never too old for America's pastime—baseball! At the Chicagoland Baseball Academy, bring your cleats, glove, bat, and helmet, and sign up for some seriously professional coaching. Catering to all ages, from tiny kids to those of us who've...
Chicago, IL 60605, USA
The Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago is a sight to behold, both inside and out. The exterior of this beautiful building boasts soaring steel and glass windows, with the crown of the structure bearing enormous gargoyles that are...
20 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, USA
Pass through the beautiful lobby and enter a world where your senses are immersed in soaring vocal art. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is a world-renowned music establishment that features the most famous voices on the globe. There are two on-site...
220 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Going to the CSO is like visiting another planet where all communication is done through music. The space is dazzling, the crowd is cultured, and once the orchestra begins your heart will soar with each and every perfectly played note. If you are...
5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, USA
Ever dreamed of driving a true luxury vehicle or an exotic car? If so, Imagine Lifestyles can make your dreams come true. Specializing in all things elegant and glamorous that possess four wheels and thousands of horsepower, their incredible fleet...
9501 W Devon Ave, Rosemont, IL 60018, USA
It's not often that you find a combo that is an Italian restaurant AND a night club all in one. Cafe Zalute & Retro Bar does a fine job of meeting these requirements in true style. Select from any of their mouth-watering dishes featuring...
10225 W Higgins Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018, USA
I'll just start by listing the amenities of the Rosemont Fitness Center, and then you can draw your own conclusions. The RFC has (get ready), a running track, free weights, a basketball court, aquatic classes, spinning, yoga, pilates, a lap pool,...
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