Chicago is a world-class city, filled with quality restaurants, museums, landmarks and tourist attractions. Some of it just can’t be replicated anywhere else. Here are seven of our favorite truly Chicagoan experiences.
1. Skate at Maggie Daley Park
You have a few weeks left this season to lace your skates and tackle one of the centerpieces of Maggie Daley Park. The ice ribbon is a quarter-mile undulating loop that starts with a climb, followed by a hairpin turn and a fast descent. It’s a technically challenging skate and the rink’s design has proven to be a popular tourist destination. Its unique design has four times the ice mass of a standard skating rink and it takes an hour to resurface the ice.
2. Bike Lake Shore Drive
For a few hours every Memorial Day weekend, Lake Shore Drive is closed to motorized traffic and turned over to the pedal pushers for the annual MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive. Over 20,000 people hit the road every year for this event, which is broken down into 15- and 30-mile routes. Driving into downtown along Lake Shore Drive is already a sightseeing experience; imagine taking in our world-class skyline on a bicycle.
3. Visit Garfield Park Conservatory
When we’re feeling an acute case of cabin fever, we can always head to this West Side conservatory for a quick shot of greenery and nature. Landscape architect Jens Jensen designed the conservatory to resemble a haystack, but inside guests are transported to different landscapes including jungle foliage and a desert climate. With its lush greenery, the conservatory’s fern room remains a popular destination for couples.
4. Tour Palmisano Park
The Park District opened this 27-acre park in Bridgeport (aka “Mt Bridgeport”) in 2010 and there’s no other park of its kind within the city limits. It was built atop one of Chicago’s oldest limestone quarries. Over 40k SF of topsoil was trucked in to create the park’s landscape. It contains 1.7 miles of walking trails, indigenous plant life, a retention pond 40 feet below street level and a hill that rises 30 feet above street grade, which provides beautiful views of the downtown skyline and surrounding neighborhoods.
5. Take a Pedway Tour
Comedian and tour guide Margaret Hicks hit upon the idea of hosting guided tours of the downtown pedway system six years ago. Her tours break down the history of the pedway and demystify what may be an otherwise confusing below-ground maze with humor and skill.
6. Relax Inside a Salt Cave
This Northwest Side spa provides a relaxing and healing experience through the use of Black Sea salt-iodine caves. Acquired naturally, the salt takes on a pink color, has a decidedly floral scent and sparkles like diamonds. Black Sea salt has long been purported to have healing properties and is used for respiratory, circulatory, digestive, neurological and skin problems. But the cave rooms here also provide a respite from the outside world and simply look cool.
7. Learn Swordplay
Forteza bills itself as the Midwest’s only full-time school to study historical swordplay styles such as the rapier, longsword and arming sword. It’s also home to the “Baritzu Club,” the lost martial art immortalized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes novels.