Chicago Summer 2011: Ten Unique Ways to Experience Chicago.

Chicago Summer 2011: Ten Unique Ways to Experience Chicago.
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Plan an Urban Excursion.

Are you considering a staycation this summer, hosting visitors from out of town, or are the kids are bugging you that “there’s nothing to do”? If so, the solution is right before your eyes. You can EXPLORE CHICAGO! Discover the real Chicago from tacquerias in Pilsen to ice cream treats at Margie’s Candies or recreate your very own “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The Chicago Office of Tourism has made it oh, so easy with literally hundreds of free events and experiences through their “Urban Excursions: Explore Chicago” initiative. Here are ten ideas to get you started:

1. Chinatown Trek.
Experience a whole different world without ever leaving Chicago.  Take a short trek to Chinatown where you can bask in their rich tapestry of restaurants, businesses and shops. An awesome way to arrive in Chinatown is by boat. Board the Chicago Water Taxi at any stop on the Chicago River and get off at Chinatown’s Tom Ping Park–a short walk to Chinatown Square.

2. Chicago Taco Trek.
Discover authentic tacquerias in Pilsen, devour freshly-made tortillas in Little Village or satisfy a late-night craving at a 24-hour taco restaurant in Bucktown.

3. Bike the Boulevards Trek.
Bike historic boulevards while learning about Chicago’s history and public sculpture on this trek developed in partnership with WTTW, Chicago’s Public Television Station. Ride along broad, tree-shaded streets that form a 28-mile long circle around the city.

4. Millennium Park Trek.
Take photographs of iconic sculptures and gardens and uncover behind-the-scenes facts about Chicago’s award-winning Millennium Park.

5. Wicker Park Trek.
Check out chic boutiques, restaurants and the alternative, artistic style of this popular Chicago hotspot.

6. Chicago Music Trek.
Reshoot the cover of WILCO’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; learn why Kanye West named his first album The College Drop Out; and check in at local clubs like The Metro and The Empty Bottle.

7. Lincoln Square Trek.
Discover this neighborhood’s Old World Charm and its hip urban boutiques and retailers.

8. Brain Freeze Trek.
Developed in partnership with Time Out Chicago Kids, the Brain Freeze Trek goes to Margie’s Candies and other delicious locations all over the city to sample ice cream, gelato and Italian ices.

9. On Location.
Download Foursquare on your smartphone or go to the Explore Chicago website for locations of where your favorite Chicago films were shot. Check out the locales for the epic battle scenes from Transformers: Dark of the Moon including Hotel 71, the Tribune Tower, the Old Chicago Post Office, and Trump International Hotel and Tower.   Or choose from five other fun movie experiences: re-create your own Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; discover where Harry Met Sally (in Chicago, not New York!); visit the place where Sandra Bullock’s characters fell in love in While You Were Sleeping and The Lake House; or follow in the footsteps of The Dark Knight, Rob from High Fidelity, or The Blues Brothers while visiting iconic Chicago filming locations.

10. Chicago’s Top Dog. Trek the neighborhoods to see who makes the perfect Chicago-style hot dog.  Check out some of the city’s favs from Weiner Circle, Superdawg and Hot Dougs’ to U.S. Cellular Field, Wrigley Field, and the United Center.

For details on how to put any of these treks together and more ideas, check out the City of Chicago’s Tourism Website, or get maps, brochures and talk to a city representative at one  of Chicago’s Visitor Centers.  The Visitor Centers are located across from Millennium Park in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street; and at the historic Water Works pumping station, 163 E. Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue.

For daily alerts about fun and free things to do in Chicago, follow Explore Chicago on Twitter click the “like” button on their Facebook Page.

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