Chicago, IL

6 Hidden Gems in Chicago

Rob Adams
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Even though most people traveling around the US prefer to stop in more famous cities like New York, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles, there's plenty of exciting things happening in Chicago, too. If you have an eye for art and love a vibrant city, give it a chance. Caicago might surprise you in a very pleasant way. It's a great destination for both a long weekend and a week's vacation. Even though there are plenty of fun activities you can enjoy in the city, here are 6 of them that are truly worth it.

1. Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory is fashionably untamed across its verdant showcase of flora from wet and dry environments, and those between. Spread across twelve acres, there's abundance year-round, from the colorful spring flower show to permanent indoor exhibits and holiday displays. Plant and garden enthusiasts should make the conservatory—easily accessed by Green Line—one of their stops.

2. Museum of Contemporary Art

Like the MET in New York, the MCA is one of the city’s museums that’s in a near-constant state of transition. With its relatively small permanent collection, it relies on special shows—from large-scale installations to video, fashion, music, photography, and more—that showcase just as many rising local talents and underground, avant-garde renegades as recognizable names. The museum is also known for its hosted talks between writers and artists, and various performance series.

3. Hubbard Street Murals

Chicago is known to be home to some great street artists, so there is no surprise that the large parts of the city are covered in street murals. In fact, the first thing you see when you arrive is an imposing, cement viaduct bisecting the Fulton Market neighborhood. But if you walk closer, you'll see an explosion of brightly painted murals. The works here began as a project by students, led by Ricardo Alonzo, in 1971 along the 900 block of Hubbard Street. Nearly 50 years later, the project has been revived by The B_Line—a collective of artists carrying the street art corridor into the next generation. With public works covering five city blocks, contributed by over 70 artists from Chicago and around the world, the murals have become their own outdoor museum, so make sure you don't miss them, on your visit to Chicago.

4. Millennium Park

Home to iconic public art installations such as Cloud Gate (also known as "The Bean"), this 25-acre park is one of the most popular gathering spots in the city. Visitors can currently walk through the flowers in the Lurie Garden or grab a spot inside one of the social distancing circles painted on the Great Lawn.

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5. Promontory Point

Just north of the Museum of Science and Industry, this man-made peninsula is just a short jaunt from the Lakefront Trai, and it's the perfect place to go if you want to breathe some fresh air, sit on a rock, just outside the crowded city. When the sun is out, it's a popular spot for picnics, lounging, and canoodling on the rock steps that line the perimeter of the point.

6. American Writers Museum

You can't write if you can't read, that's a fact. But you don't have to be a writer to admire the greatest. Any avid reader would enjoy spending their time at the American Writers Museum. Located in the heart of tourist traffic on Michigan Avenue, this intimate museum celebrates the power of the written word and the many voices that shape it. Interactive experiences, regular visits from writers, and exhibits like Tools of the Trade, featuring more than a dozen typewriters used by iconic writers such as Orson Welles, Hugh Hefner, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ernest Hemingway, Mae West, and Truman Capote keep things feeling fresh.

The layout is easy to navigate, almost relaxing, and the number of attractions within the space is manageable, meaning you’ll be able to see everything in under two hours so don't rush through them. There's plenty of time.

Have you ever been to Chicago? Is so, what did you like most about the city? Would you go back? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below.

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