In 2014, Chicago broke its record for tourism welcoming 50.2 million visitors according to Choose Chicago. And where do all of these visitors go? To the same touristy attractions. Every. Single. Time.
Navy Pier is filled with visitors packed like sardines, every museum is littered with field trips, walking down Michigan Avenue leaves you feeling like your Frogger diving between people trying not to get run over.
If you've already visited this toddlin town once, twice, or five times, this might be the trip where you should switch up your activities of choice. Below are a few of the staple tourist attractions and their local counterparts. Why not spend a day in Chicago like a true Chicagoan?
Switch out the Cheesecake Factory in Streeterville for....
Green Street Meats in West Loop
The Cheesecake Factory is a crowd pleaser. They’re menu is so extensive, it’s like the restaurant version of a food court. On the downside, it’s always packed especially during tourist season. Next time you’re in Chicago, hop a quick cab or green line ride to the West Loop and try Green Street Meats. You’re switching out a restaurant that does a lot of things, for a spot that does one thing very well; BBQ.
Harry Caray’s in Streeterville is a classic, but it's way more fun at....
Sluggers World Class Sports Bar in Wrigleyville
Harry Caray is undeniably a Chicago icon, and so is his aptly named bar and restaurant. However, the local Cubs fans know the real hot spot before and after the game is Sluggers World Class Sports Bar in Wrigleyville. Why? Two words. Batting. Cages. That’s right, you can show off your swing and beer chugging skills all in one place.
Iconic Navy Pier in Streetervilleis great for outdoors, but for a less congested option......
Oz Park and Lincoln Park Conservatory in Lincoln Park
Navy Pier is gorgeous during the spring and summer, and it can be fun…..the first time. The ferris wheel is epic, but the lines are excruciating. Mini golf is always a blast, but so packed! If you’re looking for some outdoor space, without the feeling of being a packed sardine check out Oz Park in Lincoln Park. Complete with statues of Dorothy and Toto, and the Tin Man, this is the perfect place to relax.
Close by is the Lincoln Park Conservatory. A green house built in the 1870s, the conservatory comes complete with water lilies so sought after that the Egyptian government requested seeds specifically from the Lincoln Park Conservatory in 1897.
Why go to Giordano’s in River North when you could try out....
Pequod’s in Lincoln Park
Although Giordano’s has become a Chicago staple, real Chicagoans know that it’s still far from a real deep dish. A quick trip north will bring you to Lincoln Park and the infamously delicious Pequod’s deep dish pizza.
Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park isn't the only place for science fans....
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park
The Museum of Science and Industry is absolutely one of my favorite museums in Chicago. Unfortunately, it also seems to be every tourist’s favorite place as well. Next time you visit the city swap out Science and Industry for The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Some highlights include a great nearby pond, snakes and lizards galore, and an amazing butterfly haven! You’ll feel like a Disney princess in a huge sunny room with butterflies landing on you left and right!
The Ghirardelli's and Hershey stores in Streeterville are delicious the first time around, switch it up with....
Sweet Mandy B’s in Lincoln Park
Ghirardelli's and the nearby Hershey store are pretty delicious, but those dinky sundaes won’t hold a candle to any treat from Sweet Mandy B’s. WARNING: Scrolling through Sweet Mandy B’s Instagram will give you a serious sugar craving!