Chicago is a great place to explore any time of year, but summertime crowds can make some of the most popular spots feel a little too…crowded. Everyone knows about Chicago’s most popular destinations and attractions, like Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Wrigley Field, and Chicago River tours. If you want to get off the beaten path, check out these five Chicago destinations you may not have discovered yet!
Need to escape the heat? Ok, we admit that a museum dedicated to a 19th century Chicago Banker might not sound like your idea of summer fun, but give us a chance here. This museum, located in the historic Samuel Nickerson mansion, is actually one of Chicago’s best rated attractions on TripAdvisor, Google, and in USA Today. Touring the museum is like taking a trip back to the Gilded Age, with stunning examples of the architecture and decorating tastes of that time. View Tiffany stemware, Favrile glass, antique furniture and instruments, stained glass windows and an incredible collection of art and sculpture.
Got yourself a rainy day, but still want to explore the natural world? Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory and their 2 acres of covered gardens. You can find thousands of plant species from around the world in eight unique indoor display gardens. On a nice day, you can explore more than 10 acres of outdoor gardens, children’s play spaces, a water lily pond, and more. The Conservatory also holds events like weekly yoga, bee demonstrations, and goat visits.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is located at the intersection of North Central Park Ave. and Lake St and is open daily from 9-5pm.
Millennium Park is no hidden secret, but the attached Lurie Garden is a much less crowded oasis within. Lurie Garden features responsible urban gardening, unique examples of landscape architecture, and a 15-foot hedge that makes the city feel miles away. It is a great place to bring a date, a picnic, or a good book. With free admission, guided walks, and lots of events and programs, Lurie Gardens is a wonderful destination in all four seasons.
Looking for a fun nighttime venue that is part dive bar, comedy club, live music venue, and art gallery? Look no further than the Bucktown neighborhood favorite Gallery Cabaret. There is something happening every day of the week here, and with no cover charge, it is hard to beat this deal. Open mic? Bingo night? Poetry readings? Yep, they’ve got it!
You don’t have to be into the macabre to spend your afternoon strolling through a cemetery. The Graceland Cemetery is a beautiful, hidden gem to explore whether you are a fan of nature or history. Search for the graves of famous Chicagoans like Marshall Field and Ernie Banks, or take one of several free self-guided tours focused on trees, architecture, or history. You may be surprised at how beautiful, peaceful, and unique a cemetery can be.
Do you have any favorite hidden gems to share with our readers? How do you escape the crowds in Chicago? We love hearing from you!