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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Author: Amy Bizzarri

Amy Bizzarri is a freelance writer specializing in family fun and travel, a Chicago public schools world language teacher, and an avid reader. She lives with her two kids – a tween boy and a toddler girl – in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Follow Amy and her adventures in Chicago and beyond on her personal blog, AmyWrites312.com.

6 Ultra-Sensory Chicago Picnic Spots

Monday, May 21, 2018 8:00 AM by Amy Bizzarri

Summer in Chicago calls for as much outdoor time as possible, and picnics under the shade of a tree or beneath the starry sky are THE way to dine come summertime. 

In a nation of immigrants, few cities reflect our nation's rich melting pot better than Chicago. From Chinatown to Pilsen, and Greektown to Little Italy, immigrants from countries around the world settled into these culturally familiar enclaves back in the 19th and 20th centuries. They remain just as vibrant today, with bustling cafes, restaurants, museums, public art and more. 

If you haven't yet paid a visit to the brand new American Writers Museum (AWM), now's the time to do it. Two special exhibits take beloved Midwestern writers as their focus: "Captured Stories: American Writers through the Lens of Art Shay" and "Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page." As the first and only museum of its kind in the nation, this word-filled collection celebrates diverse American writers, while also exploring their influence on our cultural identity.

In the short forward to his classic 1917 tome The Ideal Bartender, Tom Bullock, a St. Louis bartender and the first African American to publish a cocktail recipe book, mused, "Is it any wonder that mankind stands open-mouthed before the bartender, considering the mysteries and marvels of an art that borders on magic?" Widely considered an American invention, it wasn't until Prohibition ended in 1933 that cocktail lounges began to sprout up across Chicago, replacing the traditional, beer and straight hard liquor focused saloons.

Why go to see another run-of-the-mill movie when you can catch a live, world-class, kid-friendly show at a downtown theater for less than $8? The Exelon Family Series performances are designed for children ages 4–12 and hit the stage of the Harris Theater at 2 p.m. on Saturdays: that means you can spend a weekend afternoon with your whole family at the theater, complete with educational materials, discussion questions, and a "no hush" policy to allow for your young art lovers to experience the theater in their own way. You'll want to save some time to explore adjacent Millennium Park, too!

Chicago is filled with hidden history. From a cemetery concealed beneath the lovely green fields of Lincoln Park to a ghostly guest at a settlement house, some of our city's most historic sites have an untold, eerie side too. October is one of the best times of the year to visit these three (allegedly) haunted, yet history filled places. 

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