I’ve been so focused on work lately (and adventures far and wide), it’s been ages since I took a look around a little closer to home for new experiences. One of my favorite parts of living in New York were the outings and random exploring I’d do when I found myself with a free weekend or day off.

The same goes for Chicago. Even though the Windy City is endlessly more familiar to me, there’s no shortage of new ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. And as Spring gives way to Summer and the days are the longest they’ll be all year, I took stock of some of the ideas I’ve jotted down recently. Here’s me, putting it down in writing: I want to have more adventures this summer!

American Writers Museum

I first heard about this museum over a year ago, when it got a nice little write-up in the New York Times. And I still haven’t carved out a few hours to check it out. I even already have a ticket! It’s just sitting in my inbox, waiting to be used. So, I’ll finally get around to it and actually check out the only museum in the country to highlight the craft and history of writing in America.

Theater! More Theater!

The start of this year was packed with theater outings, opportunities that cropped up thanks to my writing with Third Coast Review. It’s been a real pleasure to explore the stage offerings around town beyond the Broadway shows that roll through, and I’m determined to keep up the pace over the summer. Just in the last month, I’ve taken myself to the lush Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyric and snagged a great seat for a stunning production of Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It’s great to get press seats when they’re available, but I’m willing to fork over a few bucks for a show that’s expected to impress.

My Green Thumb

Last year, I ventured into the world of houseplants, putting the very existence of a spider plant, a calathea and a “money tree” under my care. Sadly, the money tree did not fare well (to this day, I’m not sure if I killed it through over- or under-watering the thing). The calathea was touch-and-go over the winter, but I’m happy to say she’s sprouting new leaves again with the warm weather. And wonder of wonders, even I managed to provide the spider plant with the most basic of circumstances required to keep it alive. Two out of three isn’t too bad, right? Now, I’m emboldened! want to go explore Gethsemane Gardens, this massive, colorful and vibrant nursery just north of me, to see what other flora and fauna I can adopt and nurture into thriving apartment life.

Back Stage Tour

Did you know the Chicago Theater offers daily tours that take you throughout the theater and backstage, too? It’s called the Marquee Tour, and I don’t know why I’ve never done it. I’ve seen plenty of shows at the iconic theater, so it’d be particularly cool to see the behind-the-scenes details of the space, too. It’s just $15, and given how frequently they offer it, there’s no reason not to carve out a lunch hour and check it out.

A Day at the DMV

When I moved to Brooklyn a few years ago, I decided to really commit. At the time, I had no intention of leaving the neighborhood anytime soon, so it made perfect sense to finally sack my ugly old Indiana driver’s license and claim my place as a New Yorker. It was a very long day, but by the end of it, I had an ID proving I wasn’t just a flash in the pan…until I was. Now, that ID is about to expire and I have to face facts: I’m an Illinoisan again. So sometime this summer, I need to set aside another day and jump through whatever hoops I have to in order to get an updated ID. Lucky me.

Divvy + Campus

One of the first things I did when I got to Chicago was sign up for Divvy, the city’s bike share program. It’s a great option in addition to public transit, a way to tool around the city or get from neighborhood to neighborhood when the bus is delayed or when it’s just too nice out to board a stuffy train. But I think I’ve sold the service short by just using it as a commuter tool. It’s also perfect for some simple sight-seeing if you’re in a particular area. I’d love to pick up a bike and explore the city’s urban college campuses—Northwestern, University of Chicago—and neighborhoods I don’t usually find myself in. Toss a picnic lunch in and you’ve got yourself a lovely afternoon.

Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash