Out and About
Chicago, Illinois, USA
If you’re visiting the city for the first time, you might be interested in taking a guided tour to get your bearings. Tours are often specially designed to fit a lot of sightseeing into a little time, and because Chicago is such a big city, it can come in really handy.
The best reason to take this tour can be summed up in one word: free. The Chicago Greeter service is provided at no charge to visitors. City experts guide you on an up to four hour tour of Chicago’s neighborhoods. You can sign up online, as long as you do it a week in advance of your visit. As I understand it, the tour guides are all volunteers, so they are genuinely excited to show you around their city – this is a great way to get acquainted with Chicago.
There are more than a few tours designed to show off Chicago’s famous architecture for $5-$10 a pop. Check out the website for daily offerings – many city specialties are highlighted and the tours are conducted by foot, bike, bus, or boat. There’s even a specific tour for covering the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Parks, Gardens, Beaches:
Oak Street Beach
If you’ve seen a commercial photograph of a Chicago beach, it was likely a shot of Oak Street Beach. Located at the intersection of Oak Street and Lakeshore Drive, this beach is definitely pretty, but it can get pretty crowded. The surrounding concrete is a great place to rollerblade, and you can sunbathe or play volleyball or any other beach activity. There are public restrooms open during the day as well as concession stands.
Lincoln Park Zoo
This zoo, at 2001 N. Clark Street, is one of the oldest in the country – and one of the only ones that is free to the public. That’s right, free. Check the website for events and such. The zoo is a big attraction, so be prepared for masses of people, especially in the summer. But the zoo is open 365 days a year.
One of Chicago’s favorite landmarks, this park is essentially the place where the city meets Lake Michigan. It’s between Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue, Randolph Street and Monroe Drive. Great for people watching, jogging, biking, or enjoying the scenery.