Chi-Town, Chi-City, the Windy City. It’s the midwest, it’s young and restless. LOL. Actually, it’s not so young. It’s a city known for it’s historic and innovative architecture, shady political climate and it’s predictably unpredictable weather. You are probably like what? How can weather be predictably unpredictable? Well, during the four days I was there recently in June, it was 90 degrees one day, 50 degrees and raining the next . I was sunburnt and freezing in a span of 14 hours. Nevertheless, Chicago is a city that I continue to love!
I never really had any reason to visit Chicago until my cousin moved out there for medical school 5-6 years ago. A few years later, one of my childhood friends would also move out there to attend the same medical school. Shout out to Rosalind Franklin University and Chicago Medical School! 😉 Since then, I’ve visited a total of four times, including my most recent trip in June 2018. This trip was extra special because my family and I witnessed my cousin and her fiancé officially become freakin’ doctors ❤
Spring-almost-summer is a great time to visit Chicago let. me. tell. you. Even with the random rain and wind chill we experienced, it was significantly easier to explore the city. I’ve been to Chicago during a “mild winter” (average temperature of 12 – 20 degrees) and it is NO BUENO. I mean, I’m sure it’s beautiful in more open areas, but dirty ice along the streets, pot holes galore and signs warning you about falling icicles aren’t really the most appealing things to see. How do you prepare yourself to dodge an icicle anyways? Also, if you were ever wondering what it’s like to freeze and sweat at the same time, bike through the streets of Chicago with a full down coat on. LOL.
In no way am I Chicago expert, but since I have a few visits under my belt, I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do in the windy city during the spring/summer months:
1. Bike Your Way Through the City
I’ve rented bikes two out of the four times I’ve been to Chi-Town and it’s been one of my favorite ways to “see as the locals do.” There’s something satisfying about feeling the wind on your face and literally navigating yourself through huge intersections of an unfamiliar city that you don’t get when you jump in a Lyft or Uber.
I’m sure there are a variety of bike rental options out there, but both times I used Divvy bikes since their pick-up/drop-off stations are numerous and scattered throughout the city. Biking is not only a good way to incorporate a workout into your weekend of deep dish pizza indulgence, but it’s also a liberating way to experience the city.
We rode our bikes throughout Millennium Park, along the lakefront all the way to the Shedd Aquarium and along the river. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but long as you stick to the bike lanes, stay alert and are mindful of the rules, I think it’s definitely worth it.
2. Kayak Through the Chicago River
Chicago is known for its unique architectural styles, ranging from towering steel skyscrapers to beautiful brick-laden buildings sprinkled throughout the city. The formation of the city’s beautiful skyline is full of such eye-opening history…and you can learn all the interesting details while kayaking through the river! What better way to see the city than to paddle your way through the river that winds through it? (and you best believe I sang “Just Around the Riverbend”)
I’ve taken the architecture tour twice with Wateriders, and both times were amazing. I had “Joel The Tour Guide” both times I’ve gone, and each time he manages to memorize the names of everyone in the group. Joel and his staff are personable, accommodating and entertaining. Wateriders also offer a variety of other tours including a Ghosts and Gangsters tour and a Moonlight Paddle. Of course these tours are only hosted during the Spring/Summer months, so I suggest you take advantage of that. You won’t regret it! (Just remember to wear sunscreen…and not a jean jacket…like I did)
3. Purchase a CityPASS
The official Chicago CityPASS is a convenient way to see the popular tourist spots on your list. For $106 (adult pricing) you can gain priority entrance to the following attractions:
- Shedd Aquairum
- Skydeck Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry or 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
- Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago
It’s definitely worth it, especially during peak tourist hours (aka weekends). As long as you hit up at least four of the available attractions, you get your money’s worth.
4. Take Public Transportation
Skip trying to find parking in the city and buy a Ventra card! Prices vary depending on your preference. It’s as simple as pressing a few buttons on one of the automatic kiosks at each train station. Once you buy the card, you can either add a certain sum of money to it, or buy a pass for a certain number of days. Since my recent trip was four days, I ended up buying a 7-day pass. It gave me access to the above ground train, subway and the bus system. Public transit is an immersive way of learning about a new city and allows for more exploration, because you’ll need to navigate from station to station. Super convenient and more affordable than renting a car!
5. Visit Maggie Daley Park
Your kids…or your own inner kid will thank you for visiting this amazing park! Maggie Daley Park, along with the famous Millennium Park, is another free (for the more part) attraction to take advantage of within The Loop. Once you are done taking your “Bean” photos at Millennium Park, take a short stroll over the picturesque BP Pedestrian Bridge to Maggie Daley Park.
The park’s attractions are tucked between nooks of tree groves and features: the below pictured fantastical rope bridge at their Play Garden, a freakin’ rock climbing wall, many places to lay down a picnic blanket, an ice skating ribbon (forget your boring rink!) during the colder months, and more! For a full list of the park’s attractions, visit their website 🙂
Obviously there are hundreds of other things to do in Chi-town (I didn’t even get into all the food I ate), but I thought I’d share some of my favorites 🙂 Hopefully that was helpful! Let me know what your favorite things about Chicago are if you’ve visited before.