For many years, Chicago was second to New York City in population figures, which earned its nickname “The Second City.” The New Yorker writer Abbott J. Liebling noted this nickname in the title of his 1950s book, “Chicago: The Second City.” Today, Chicago still ranks among the top US population centres.
Discover the real Chicago with these off-the-beaten-path hidden gems. 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 Chicago, 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 Chicago skyline depiction. You’ll find the Sky Chapel, above the 21st floor, where services are still held.
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.
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 Chicago’s 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.
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.
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 Chicago. 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.
Image via Flickr by vikramjam
Neighbourhood: 2021 N. Burling St.
Underground: Armitage Station, Purple Line