Chicago is rich in history and artistry. The city is much more than hotdogs, pizza, Al Capone, and the Chicago Bulls. Don’t get us wrong, the food, history, and sports all help to make Chicago a great place to visit.
Even better, the city is home to some exciting hidden experiences and locations, which is why Chicago is hot right now.
Are you planning a trip to Chicago? Why not add a few of these hidden gems to your itinerary. Explore the less crowded locations and immerse yourself in the city – starting with Oz Park.
Built in the 1890s, Oz Park was one of Chicago’s first green spaces. Trees, flowers, and greenery stretch out for miles surrounding visitors in a blanket of nature, making Oz Park one of the most beautiful places in Chicago.
When the city revitalized the Lincoln Park neighborhood, they opted to build Oz park as a play on words – author L Frank Baum who wrote The Wizard of Oz, lived here, so it seemed fitting that the town used the title when naming the park.
The city purchased the land in 1974, turning Oz park into a beautiful open space for both residents and visitors to enjoy. Children in particular love Dorothy’s Playlot.
Dorothy’s Playlot is a playground for children and families to enjoy together; Volunteers maintain The Emerald Gardens. The devoted band of gardeners ensures that there is always greenery in this part of town.
Though excellent, the park is not as impressive as the character statues. These two play spaces allow people to do their own thing without competing with others or being restricted by any rules governing what activities happen here. The fun happens in the shadow of Dorothy, Toto, Tinman, Glinda the Good Witch, and of course the Cowardly Lion, just as their creator would have wanted
Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago is an oasis for urbanites looking to catch their breath. Even if you’re not a fan of plants, the conservatory’s massive greenhouse will leave your mouth agape at its beauty and variety!
This community-run garden serves as a study area and an art collection. The Palm Garden greets guests with a rush of damp, humid air and vibrant shades of green as soon as they enter. The Show House serves as a natural art gallery featuring exotic flowers and tinted glass.
Fresh plant arrangements are featured every year. These are cultivated at the conservatory. Each garden has its light display related to the nature of that plant, or collection of plants, and how light affects plant structure. The greenhouse has multiple indoor sub-gardens, but it is the outside public garden that draws most visitors, plant enthusiasts, and botanists.
The conservatory is open all year and features 30 exhibits on display at any given time. The Garfield Park Conservatory is not merely another location to reconnect with nature beyond environmental teaching and visual spectacle. We are sure after you’ve been here, you’ll want to come back for more.
The Concert Series – Sofar Sounds
Sofar Sounds is an up-and-coming platform that allows you to attend unique concerts in unusual locations. You can buy tickets for private performances at United Center or Soldier Field.
Still, Sofar sounds organize more intimate shows like a chocolate factory performance and even rooftop bar soirees to encourage you to try something different!
Most shows run on a lottery system, so those interested in attending must apply for passes and cross their fingers to be selected.
The place will be announced the day before the performance, but you won’t know who will be performing until you arrive. Past performers have included outstanding local talent and rising stars like Kweku Collins, Morgan Saint, and Femdot.
Ping Tom Memorial Park
Board the Chicago Water Taxi and exit at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown for a genuinely unique experience not seen in the guidebooks. This neighborhood has several places to eat, including Cai – Chinese dim sum – five minutes away. Follow this with traditional Cantonese pastries like those from Saint Anna Bakery, which you can find nearby.
Take the cakes to the park’s riverfront pagoda for a snack with a view.
The park’s attractions include:
A children’s playground.
A boathouse with kayak rentals.
An indoor swimming pool and gym at the leisure complex.
A green rooftop patio with beautiful views.
Enjoy a moment of serenity all to yourself before heading off to Maxwell Street Market.
Maxwell Street Market
The Maxwell Street Market, which runs every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., is an exciting Chicago tradition that has been around for over 80 years!
Vendors set up stalls on Desplaines street of Little Italy/University Village and sell anything you can imagine: fresh food items like fruit or eggs, apparel such as clothing or accessories, even handmade jewelry. All these items are sold at this market—it’s genuinely fantastic how much stuff there is!
The market is well-known for its lively atmosphere, which includes authentic Mexican and Latin street food. The smell of grilled steaks, music from live bands playing mariachi to Blues/Rock, and dance performances add a colorful touch.
Find Maxwell Market at 800 S Desplaines St. Thirsty? Need a drink? Try Room 13 if you can find it!
Chicago has a variety of bars and clubs with unique styles, flavors, and entry rules.
Room 13 is one such establishment that stands out from the rest, found on the thirteenth floor of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago.
Three friends established this bar, and they wanted to create an experience for their clientele without having any set theme or strict dress code like most places have nowadays.
They offer free drinks if you can find hidden clues around this massive building which can be pretty daunting at times! The crowd tends to change depending on what night it is, so we would recommend checking them out before heading there so that you know whether they’ll suit your style or not!
Here’s how you get there. Find the famous Chicago Inn hotel, and tucked down a well-hidden alleyway, you’ll find the door to this speakeasy. Visitors must obtain a unique password by becoming a Room 13 member or checking in at the hotel.
You will never run out of fun things to do when you visit Chicago! Make sure to check some hidden gems and unusual places off your list.