Chicago, IL

Off the beaten path in Chicago: From rats to ugly buildings, these tours show you another side

Jennifer Geer

Tours with Mike provide visitors and locals with unique views of the city.

(CHICAGO) A native of Kansas, when I moved to the Chicago area in my 20s and began working downtown, I remember being shocked when a coworker showed me the underground Pedway. I had complained about the bitter cold and biting wind off the lake, so she showed me her trick to staying warm on her walk into the office in the dead of a Chicago winter.

I never expected there was an entire world underneath the city. There was certainly nothing like that in my Kansas hometown.

If you're looking for things to do this summer, try taking a tour of Chicago's fascinating, underground streets. But don't be surprised to find rats sharing the space with the people.

What is the Underground Chicago (Plus Rats!) Tour?

The Underground Chicago (Plus Rats!) Tour, by Tours With Mike, will take you off the beaten path and into places in Chicago you may have never been, such as underground pedestrian tunnels, hidden streets, and train stations.

Mike McMains, a Chicagoan who operates Tours With Mike, is launching a new sightseeing tour about something Chicago has a lot of but doesn't necessarily want to celebrate. Rats!

It's not just rats McMains plans to cover on his tours, but hidden sides of the city most people either never see or haven't paid much attention to.

What to expect on the tour

The tour begins outside Ulta on the Magnificent Mile at 430 North Michigan Avenue and ends inside the Red Line Monroe Station.

It should take about 90 minutes and is mainly underground. The tour guide, which is always Mike, will take you walking along hidden streets, train stations, and pedestrian tunnels.

Book your tour in advance here.

Will you see rats on the tour?

According to the frequently asked questions on the website, "We will see signs of rats, but it is unlikely we will see any scurrying around during the tour because they are usually resting indoors at that time."

How did Mike come up with the idea for a rat tour?

According to Block Club Chicago, the idea came from a client's young nephew with an interest in rats.

What other tours does Mike run?

Tours With Mike also operates Architectures Greatest Hits, Incredible Interiors, Riverwalk Stroll, and Ugly Buildings.

Everyone knows about Chicago's architectural marvels, but in the Ugly Building Tour, Mike pokes fun at some of the less beautiful buildings in the city.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mike's Ugly Building Tour, "is the local architecture tour that needed to happen. Chicago needed taking down a notch. Too much civic pride! What is this, Des Moines?"

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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