How to be a Tourist in Chicago (Without Looking Like One)
Friday, October 26, 2012 12:00 AM by Lesley Burr
Posing for photos in front of our famed attractions is a must. We have some of the most celebrated theatres and museums in the country. But don't leave Chicago without getting down and dirty with the locals. We're a lot of fun, too. To help, I've picked four of my favorite not-so-touristy things to do around Chicago. You're welcome.
Take a Chicago “Tour de Cupcakes” and savor the flavors and sights of Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, and River North.
Clark Street is home to two of my favorite cupcake spots Molly’s Cupcakes and the Meatloaf Bakery. Molly’s has a charitable mission behind its baked goods. For ever delectable miniature red velvet and cream cheese frosting you buy (and you should by a lot), Molly’s will donate a portion to schools in the community. Whereas Molly’s is sweet (in more than one way), the Meatloaf Bakery is savory. Oddly enough, the cupcake-shaped protein confections make for a humorous sense-stumper and a scrumptious lunch.
From Clark Street, make your way to decadent More Cupcakes in Gold Coast, a place the resembles a museum or art gallery more than a bakery. Then wind your way to River North and sneak in a sweet snack while shopping at Sprinkles, the boutique cupcake shop that started it all.
The best way to get to know a city is to mingle with the locals, get your groove on, and do a little networking on the side. Local and online publications like Filter, Racked, Refinery29, and the MidWasteland are always hosting and promoting awesome events. Industry parties intimidate you? Don’t sweat it -- these sponsors want you at their shindigs and make it relatively easy to RSVP to the guest lists online.
Whirlyball dates back into American history as being one of the greatest sports. At least, it should be. Founded by Stan Magnum, Whirlyball combines all the skill and talent of bumper cars, basketball, lacrosse, and jai alai with alcohol. Chicago is one of the lucky few cities in the country that is a home for the game.
If you’re willing to risk a few morning-after bruises (the specially designed bumper cars, or “Whirlybugs,” have steering wheels between the knees so that driving doesn’t interfere with scoring), head to a Whirlyball court with your friends and prepare for some fun.
Kingston Mines is the quintessential joint to head to for real Chicago Blues music. Established in 1968, the crowd is a remarkable mix of regulars that have been around since opening, college kids looking to try something different, and everything in between. With huge dance floors, expansive bars, and two stages for bands to play on until 4:00 a.m. every night, you’ll never want to leave.