Explore 5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions in Chicago

If you’ve been to Chicago before, discover the real heart of the city with five off-the-beaten-path hidden gems.

Did you know that Chicago’s nickname is “The Second City”? This is because for many years, Chicago was second to New York City in population figures. Today, Chicago still ranks among the top US population centres.

To complement your exploration, stay at one of Chicago’s budget-friendly or luxury hotels when planning your city visit to make sure you are close to public transportation to easily reach these alternative attractions.

Chicago’s Most Distinctive Church

Not only is it the most distinctive and the oldest church in the city, but it’s also the tallest church building in the world. The First United Methodist Church of Chicago dates from 1831 and is in the heart of the city. You’ll have to crane your neck to see its top, as the building resembles a classic Gothic Chicago skyscraper with a steeple on top.

The main church is on the first floor and has some excellent stained glass art, including a skyline depiction. You’ll find the Sky Chapel, above the 21st floor, where services are still held.

First United Methodist Church - Chicago, Il

Image via Flickr by pasa47

Neighbourhood: 77 W. Washington St.

Underground: Washington Station, Blue Line

Summer at the Beach in Chicago

Chicago’s lakeside beaches are popular on hot summer days. Avoid the packed Ohio Street beach and follow the locals to find a sandy space in the sun at North Avenue Beach.

The clean white sand is a well-kept secret, and the beach itself boasts awesome views of the lake and city. You’ll find food stalls, volleyball courts, and the shallow water on the northern part of the beach perfect for families.

Toddlin' Town <explore>

Image via Flickr by Phil Roeder

Neighbourhood: 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr.

Underground: Bryn Mawr Station, Red Line

The Trendy Bucktown Neighbourhood

Chicago has its creative epicentres, and one especially trendy neighbourhood is Bucktown. On the outskirts of downtown, this community is full of art galleries, artisan coffeehouses, and vintage treasure shops, plus a lively nightlife and burgeoning dining scene.

The Flatiron Arts Building is a good place to start for contemporary art. In the evening, check out the cocktails at the popular speakeasy-style bar, The Violet Hour.

Coffee Roasting at Ipsento Coffee Shop in Bucktown

Image via Flickr by David Hilowitz

Neighbourhood: North, Milwaukee, and Damen Avenues; Division Street

Underground: Western Avenue Station, Red Line

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

If you want to catch a glimpse of how America’s mightiest industrialists and bankers lived during the golden age of the 19th century, visit the Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

Formerly the home for Samuel Mayo Nickerson, a prominent banker, the carefully restored museum houses a collection of period furniture, as well as fine and decorative arts.

Richard H. Driehaus Museum

Image via Flickr by Brule Laker

Neighbourhood: 40 E. Erie St.

Underground: Chicago Station, Red Line

Visit Oz in Chicago

Frank Baum, creator of “The Wizard of Oz,” was a much-loved famous former resident of the city. He lived in the Lincoln Park area in the 1890s, and the city has honoured him by transforming a dilapidated city park into the magical world of Oz.

In Oz Park, you’ll find statues of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and other Oz friends created by John Kearney, a Chicago-based artist. The cast of the 1939 musical “Wizard of Oz” adaptation inspired Kearney’s creations.

20140702-DSC_0504

Image via Flickr by vikramjam

Neighbourhood: 2021 N. Burling St.

Underground: Armitage Station, Purple Line

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About Natasha von Geldern

Natasha von Geldern is the World Wandering Kiwi, a freelance travel writer, editor and inveterate traveller who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real one trip at a time.

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