Okay, admit it: You don’t go to Chicago as much as you’d like... And when you do, you often find yourself taking the Red Line to Grand and State only to hop off and walk the Mag Mile until you reach the Bean. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. In fact, we’ve been there too many times. With the whole city only one Ventra scan away, take this as your opportunity to enjoy some of Chicago’s lesser-known haunts and hot spots.
Conservatory-Central Park Drive
- Green Line
- 80 minutes away
- Come here if: you feel like stepping into a tropical forest to avoid the tundra that is Chiberia.
- Skip it if: you’re not a stop-and-smell-the-roses type.
- What to see: The Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s a two-acre public greenhouse open 365 days a year. The best part? It’s always free!
- Where to eat: Inspiration Kitchens, only a block away.
- Blue Line
- 81 minutes away
- Come here if: you’re getting really sick of Andy’s.
- Skip it if: you’re lactose intolerant, hate waiting or both.
- What to see: Take a walk on The 606, an elevated walkway that can’t decide if it’s a bridge, park or track. You can pick up the trail at the intersection of Bloomingdale and Western.
- Where to eat: The original location of Margie’s Candies, a Chi-town sweet tooth destination. For sundaes the size of your face, Margie’s is the place.
- Red/Brown/Purple Line
- 37 minutes away
- Come here if: you need a fun n’ flirty (yet eccentric) costume for your buddy’s crush party.
- Skip it if: you’ve always been a name-brand devotee.
- What to see: Belmont’s Army, the massive multilevel thrift/shoe/military supply store carrying some of Chicago’s rarest fashion finds.
- Where to eat: BopNGrill… Just because Guy Fieri’s been to one of the locations.
- Pink Line
- 63 minutes away
- Come here if: you haven’t been to Pilsen, one of Chicago’s prominent Mexican neighborhoods.
- Skip it if: you love gentrification. (*wrinkles nose* Millenial!)
- What to see: Pilsen Vintage, an old shop stuffed with more vinyl records than a trendy EP apartment.
- Where to eat: Casa del Pueblo Taqueria, the kind of place you can’t go to if your chosen salsa heat level is “mild.”
- Blue Line
- 77 minutes away
- Come here if: you’re horrible at singing.
- Skip it if: you’re uncomfortable with the fact that you’re horrible at singing.
- What to see: Sidekicks Karaoke and Darts, best on a Friday or Saturday night.
- Where to eat: Old Irving Brewing Co. (It’s even got cornhole for the kids – or the kids at heart.)
- Blue/Green/Pink/Orange/Brown/Purple Line
- 54 minutes away
- Come here if: you’re trying to avoid the pre-Christmas Old Orchard hordes.
- Skip it if: you enjoy shivering your way through outdoor malls.
- What to see: Block 37, a subterranean shopping mall.
- Where to eat: There’s an underground food court beneath the James R. Thompson Center that will make you feel like you’ve truly explored every nook and cranny of the city.