Ah the windy city. A place that is sometimes overshadowed by East Coast hubs like New York City, is still an electric city overflowing with tourist attractions and many surprises up its sleeve. There are a few different types of visitors to Chicago: the architecture and art enthusiasts, or tourists whose only goals are to cross the “touristy” things to see in Chicago like the Bean and Willis Tower off their bucket list. The traditional lists of things to do in Chicago normally consist of headed to a Chicago Cubs baseball game at historic Wrigley Field, a class on how to make a deep dish pizza, or even a segway tour to make sightseeing slightly more interesting. But what about those who come to Chicago in search of more authentic and unique activities? Here are 5 unique things to do in Chicago that offer visitors a taste of both a local and tourist experience because sometimes it’s nice to get to know the city yourself:
1. Have breakfast at Stella’s Diner
First up on our list of unique things to do in Chicago located on North Broadway, Stella’s Diner is a brightly colored bistro that makes even the worst of days seem better. Chock full of phenomenal breakfast options and endearing wall art, Stella’s is family, couple, and individual friendly. When you’re not enjoying your house made milkshake or mouthwatering egg skillets, make sure you take some pictures under their colorful awning, adorned with a large hand clutching a spoon, fork, and knife. Once you’ve finished eating, there are plenty of things to see in Chicago near the area. Make your way to the Inkling Art Gallery, where you can explore local artwork. Afterwards, head to North Clark Street, where you can enter Foursided Card & Gift for unique souvenirs.
2. Walk along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail
One of the best things to see in Chicago has to be the Lakefront Trail, a scenic path that follows where the Great Lakes meets the city. Open to the public, you’re welcome to check out the beach along the lake, walk along the bike path, and admire the city skyline. This is a great way to spend some time with mother nature, and if you’re with a group, try to snag a place at one of the nets, where you can play volleyball. Even if you’re not one for sports, walking along the path is a great way to see the city, admire the lake and all its action, and get some steps in.
3. Shop at Water Tower
Although this is a more touristy attraction for a list of unique things to do in Chicago, the Water Tower shopping center is still a great place to find things unique to Chicago. If you want to avoid the more mainstream stores you can always check out the Art of Dr. Seuss gallery or marvel at the store devoted specifically to unicorns. Even if none of these options excite you, it is always thrilling to look down the center of the mall, where you can see each level above the next and watch as the transparent elevator makes its way from floor to floor. (Try to not think about dropping your phone!)
4. Re-caffeinate at the Hero Coffee Bar
After a busy morning or exciting afternoon, it’s always a good idea to get a refill on coffee and pastries. Chicago is full of exciting and unique cafes, but if you happen to be passing by the Art Institute of Chicago, veer off onto Jackson Ave and check out the Hero Coffee Bar. Situated in a more historical area, Hero Coffee Bar is another prime spot for photos. Its storefront has European aesthetic, thanks to its charming fairy lights and slim build.
5. Check out Newberry Library
Even if you aren’t an avid reader, the Newberry Library definitely one of the must on a list of things to see in Chicago. This Library is open to the public, and has been since 1887. As a result, it houses an expansive collection of old maps, manuscripts, letters, and novels. The library also hosts readings, lectures, tours, and other events like theatrical performances. For those who would simply like some time to sit or admire the building, you can always explore the many reading rooms or marvel at the buildings ornate exterior and majestic staircases. Regardless of what you choose to do here, make sure you read about some of this library’s history; it’s over 130 years old!
In the end, whether you find yourself heading to Chicago for the main attractions, architecture, or in search for some unique things to do, Chicago has you covered. From coffee to libraries to shopping, the windy city has it all, and you should always treat yourself to some unique experiences with these unique things to do in Chicago!