How do you find the perfect place to eat, explore, peruse, or try if every time you go to search those for things, you get bombarded by advertisements, tourist websites, and useless information? When I sit down at my computer in attempt to find that next exciting place to discover, I can't just type "What to (fill in the blank) in Chicago". Why can't it just be that simple?
Exploring Chicago takes a lot of time, effort and research. Every time I write a blog post, it means that I poured over the computer for nearly half-a-day mapping out my routes and noting each cafe, landmark, gallery or park I want to visit, and then another half-a-day or more checking out the area and scribbling in my little pink book every two minutes. I check the condition of the area- if its a rough neighborhood, what the demographic of its residents are, the culture and (if applicable) the language most spoken in the area. A lot of prep goes into understanding the neighborhood and how the people who live there function as a very real part of this great city.
Not everybody has that amount of time to figure out how they're going to spend their free time. Finding out what to do/eat/explore/see in Chicago shouldn't be so hard. That's why I've decided to do the work for you!
Y0ur Quick Guide to finding What To ___ In Chicago:
1. Know your CTA. Understanding how to get around Chicago using public transportation makes the search for what to do in Chicago so much easier. It limits your area down and removes the inaccessible options from the decision. It will also keep you safer, as knowing the state of the neighborhoods and areas off of each stop will keep you from wandering too far into potentially dangerous situations.
If you need more help learning the CTA, check out this line-by-line, stop-by-stop preview of the "El".
2. Check out Yelp. The easiest way to find the best things Chicago has to offer, especially what to eat and see (like museums and galleries) is to see what other Chicagoans have seen and done. Searching Yelp is pretty simple stuff. Search for your neighborhood or the neighborhood you were interested in exploring, and check the neighborhood (ex. Rogers Park) and the item you were searching for (ex. Food). Then a list of businesses, restaurants, cafes and places that fit that description will line up. You can even customize your search by selecting different price options and features like free wifi, outdoor seating, and highest ratings. Keep your search limited to 4-5 star ratings, and try to ignore the 1-2 star ratings if they aren't consistent with the others.
3. Befriend Google Maps. After you've figured out what you'd like to check out, go to GoogleMaps and find out what's nearby. Exploring the neighborhood via cyberspace isn't perfectly accurate, but gives you an idea of what else there is to do in the area. This eliminates wandering around, wasting time, and looking lost. Take a note of how to get back to the CTA from wherever you are going to end up.
Example: Logan Square stop of the Blue Line.
View Logan Square- Blue Line in a larger map
You're set! This simple, 1-2-3 guide will help you to embark on your own Chicago Adventure without the hassles! Happy Exploring!