Last year as I settled into my new life in Chicago, I set about discovering what kind of adventures I could explore in my (new again) hometown. The result was an extended list of lists, what I called my Chicago Lists – interesting and slightly off the beaten path ideas for getting out and about in the Windy City.
While I’m still working through several of the ideas on those lists, I’ve also managed to check of many of them. I’ve wandered Hyde Park and Promentory Point. I’ve visited the Chicago Field Museum for the first time and revisited the Field Museum for the first time since grade school. I’ve seen a healthy variety of local and touring theater, and made it out to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and I’ve dined at Eataly and any number of other local spots.
As I fill my time with these interesting escapades, I find myself discovering even more options to look forward to as warmer weather and longer days approach. Thus, a new addition to my Chicago Lists: what I’m affectionately calling Next Level. I’m digging deep for this one, uncovering the kinds of tours and experiences you won’t find on a “24 Hours in Chicago” list anywhere.
Devil in the White City Tour – If you don’t know what this is referencing, do yourself a favor and pick up the Erik Larson book stat. A seemingly impossible story of one of the country’s most notorious serial killers operating undetected while Chicago built a new city for the 1893 World’s Fair, this tour claims to take attendees through Victorian-era Chicago complete with a view of where Holmes’ building once stood and an after-tour cocktail at a Victorian salon.
Humboldt Park Food Crawl – I wrote a whole post about exploring a few interesting neighborhoods, and this creative post from Time Out Chicago (seriously, I’d be lost without them) is exactly the kind of local-centric tour I’m totally down for. A few great spots to read, write, sip and nosh in a new-to-me neighborhood sounds like a basically perfect Saturday afternoon.
Body/Courage – I’m always keeping an eye out for new local theater to check out – it’s simply the most enjoyable way for me to get out and about that doesn’t involve a movie or food. I discovered this one-woman show via a good review in Time Out Chicago, so I picked up a ticket for next week.
The Flick – see above for why this one is on the list, too. Getting out to Steppenwolf is on my original theater list, and this Pulitzer Prize-winning show about the working lives of movie theater employees will do just fine to check it off as done.
Strandbeest – I remember seeing these majestic creations years ago on CBS Sunday Morning and marveling and the sheer innovation of something so fragile yet so overwhelmingly beautiful. I’d all but forgotten about them when I read about their arrival in Chicago, complete with some aimless wandering around Millennium Park. They’ve taken up residence at the Chicago Cultural Center until May, and I plan on checking them out.
Dressing Downton – I watch a lot of PBS, and one evening it paid off in the form of this awesome discovering. Like above, I already had the Dreihaus Museum on my list to check out. The news that they’re featuring an exhibition of Downton Abbey fashions seals the deal. With the series ending in just a few weeks, if I can’t go back to the Abbey itself, I can’t think of a better way to send off the Crawleys from right here in the Midwest.
Wait Wait…Live Taping – I listen to NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me every week, either Saturday mornings while I do chores around my place or via podcast later in the week. It’s fun and funny and geeky in all the best ways. The popular radio show tapes most weeks right here in Chicago, and I’ve got to get myself to a show. It’s the public radio nerd’s version of attending a taping of The Daily Show.
Chinatown Tour – I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what to expect of Chicago’s Chinatown. I’ve never been and I only have NYC’s to compare it to which, I imagine, doesn’t really compare at all. But if like the Humboldt Park tour above I could carve out a weekend afternoon of wandering among the restaurants and sites of this culturally rich enclave, it’d be a weekend well spent.
Randolph Street Market – I honestly thought this was on an earlier list, but I can’t find it anywhere. I actually bought tickets to one of these monthly major flea markets back in the fall, then life happened and I didn’t go. A massive expanse of vendors with everything from furniture to antiques to vintage finds and of course food, this monthly affair seems like a must for anyone on the hunt for that perfect piece for their apartment (yep, that’s me).