A Southsider's Guide to the NATO Weekend

A Southsider's Guide to the NATO Weekend

The thing about Chicagoans is that we like to mind our business.  We go to work. We appreciate a good pizza.  We shake our head when we look at the news.  Then we go to sleep just to do it all over again the next day.  We only really make a fuss when our sports teams are losing, when someone mentions the “Willis Tower” and when someone calls a gyro a “G-EYE-RO”.

We are simple people, who like simple things like barbequing, parks, and hot dogs with no mustard. So my question is…who in the heck thought bringing NATO to the city was a good idea…especially when the weather this weekend will be so nice?

Ask the average Chicagoan how they feel about the NATO Summit and you will probably get a shrug, a grunt about traffic and how Al Qaeda better stay in their own country.  And as much as we will all do our best to ignore the happenings around the convention, getting around the city is sure to be an epic pain in the ass.  (See map of road closures here.)

As a south-sider who gets her hummus, turkey burgers, and entertainment in the area that will be fortressed off by police, protestors, and drone airplanes, I am eagerly awaiting the end of the summit before it begins.  If you are like me and are wondering how to fill your weekend while “martial law” is in effect, don’t fret.  Here are some recommendations for enjoying all that the south-side has to offer.

(If I missed something awesome, feel free to add it in the comment section.)

  • 63rd Street Beach House – Yes 63rd Street sounds scary, but the beach grounds are not only beautiful but filled with great music and food options during the warmer months.  Get there early with your blanket, ice chest, and football and prepare to enjoy a great day with the family.
  • Museum of Science and Industry – Sit out on the lawn, fly a kite, or actually go inside to enjoy a movie at its’ IMAX theatre.  Though food options are limited, MSI is always a good place to go for singles and families alike.  Other museums to consider are the Smart Museum and Oriental Museum – both housed on University of Chicago’s campus.
  • Dine alfresco dining in Hyde Park – Hyde Park now boasts several options for outdoor dining to enjoy.  Seven Ten Bowling Lanes and Bar, Sit down Café, Clark’s, Chant, and Medici are just a few great choices to consider if you are looking  to kick-back, relax, and enjoy a glass of wine.
  • Explore Pilsen (Lower West Side), Chinatown, Little Italy, or Greek town – It is easy to forget the vastness of diversity on the south-side of the city.   Take either Halsted Street or Wentworth Avenue North to explore neighborhoods that are rich in both history and culinary choices.


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  • Essentially you have "stay south of 47th and west of Halsted." Chinatown, being near McCormick Place, may be chancy. Probably have to rely on the Red Line for that and the Crosstown Classic.

    Also, the advice better be "stay on the south side," since one won't be able to use any bus east of State to get into the central area without a reroute, nor the ME between 63rd and 111th, nor the Blue Island branch. Hyde Parkers will be able to go downtown, and probably have already checked out the stuff in your first 3 points.

    The question may be whether "reverse commuters" will be attracted to anything in Pullman or Beverly.

  • Good advice Jack! I live north of 47th, but will probably stick to HP until Tuesday. Thank you for commenting!

  • You are exactly right about most Chicagoans have no idea, purpose, or what NATO actually means to me and mine. Honestly...that stuff is so far over my head I really don't care to grasp it..the decisions that they make would require too much of my attention to ensure it actually gets done..please excuse my ignorance..but I don't really care..if someone is violating a treaty...why didn't they go straight to jail and not collect $200?!

    Basically this is a group of people that are going to figure out ways to 'ig' and freeze out a country?! I bet Wendy Williams is going to make a guest appearance!

  • How about inviting a NATO delegate to a back yard BBQ. For fun, invite the Occupy crowd, too, who have never turned down anything free.

    Lazy 99%, meet the Ruling Snob 1%.

    Mayor Rahm seems to think that the NATO heads of state and other VIPs will be out in the hoods, so why not a nice People-to-People mix-up thing?

    Is that catsup you're wearing, or a nice round from an automatic?

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    Whose bright idea was this? We get pretty annoyed when non related Chicago things disturb our routines. I'm right on the cusp of the clusterf#&kage (43rd & Cottage) and my plan is not to go north for anything! Is it true that there will be no cell phone signals in that area?

    P.S. Wendy Williams?? (Scratching head)

  • Love this Kay! I think Greektown is pushing it though. Too close to downtown for my tastes this weekend. You might have added the Point (east end of 55th street)--great place for a picnic, and great view northward. What about Taylor Street? Again, perhaps to close to the action. Sigh. I too am eagerly awaiting the end of the meeting before it begins! I wish I were in Michigan at the beach.

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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at kaywilliamsmith@gmail.com.

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