Chicago trip highlights Part 2: What to do in Chicago

Last week I shared some of my Chicago trip highlights.  I explored the city for the first time over a course of 3 days by foot and through public transit.  In Part 1 my trip high points included walking through Chicago neighbourhoods, taking in their beaches and learning about the history of the city on board a River Cruise. 

Here is Part 2 of my trip highlights

1.       Lincoln Park Zoo

Seeing as I love animals, I could not pass up the opportunity to check out a FREE Zoo nestled in Lincoln Park.  This Zoo was a nice wooded and grassy retreat away from touring Chicago’s busy streets.  Given that it is free I was surprised at the size of the zoo and the exhibits that were available.  Visitors can enjoy a variety of exhibits and pavilions such as the primate house, lion house and bear habitat.  The Zoo is nicely laid out with walking paths that snake through different animal enclosures, there is always something there to catch your eye.

A nice pond sits at the South end of the Zoo.  Take a walk over the bridge for a great viewpoint of the city skyline and to snap some photos.  

The Zoo is generally open from 10am – 5/6pm, but be sure to check the website as the times change seasonally:  http://www.lpzoo.org/.

2.       Kingston Mines

This was one of my favourite highlights from our trip.  I really wanted to check out a jazz or blues bar while I visited Chicago.  Kingston Mines was recommended by a Chicagoan, so we thought we would check it out.  Operating since 1968, this Blues bar runs 7 days a week and houses 2 stages for bands to play.  Bands switch back and forth between both stages.  This joint looks a little dingy from the outside, but I wouldn’t let that scare you off!  The music was unbelievable!  I couldn’t help but sway back and forth to get into the groove of the music.  I had such a good time here and I have to say my favourite performance was by Kingston Mines regular Linsey Alexander.  His guitar solos were unreal!  He has played with performers such as Buddy Guy and B. B. King.  He is also quite entertaining when not singing as well.  Linsey was the MC of the night and made sure to put the pressure on people to buy his “shit” (aka. His CD’s)…I couldn’t tell if he was joking or if he was serious…either way it made the audience laugh.  The atmosphere inside is casual and laid back with a very eclectic crowd from college aged students, to tourists and seasoned Blues legends such as Eddie Shaw (he made an appearance the night we were there, but unfortunately did not play).  The music is rocking until 4am!  Tables are communal style, drinks are well priced and they have great food!  Try the New Orleans Style BBQ Ribs, they were amazing!

Linsey at the mic

Kingston Mines is located in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Chicago and is easily accessible by public transit.  It was a short 5-10 minute walk from the Fullerton stop on the red L train line.  There is a cover charge of $12 from Sunday to Thursday, and $15 on Friday and Saturday, $10 for college students with a valid ID.  Check your hotel for coupons.  We stayed at the Inn of Chicago, the front desk passed along a $3 coupon for both of us.  Also, Police, Fire or Military get in for free. See their website for more details:  http://kingstonmines.com/

3.       Wrigley Field Tours

Along with Kingston Mines, this was easily another high point during my trip.  This historic stadium has been around since 1914 and is the second oldest North American ballpark (just 2 years younger than Boston’s Fenway Park – which I have also toured and highly recommend!).  The Wrigley Field tour will take you back in time as you get a behind the scenes tour of the home of the Chicago Cubs.  Experience a fascinating lesson of the history of the field and the team, such as how the Cubs got there name and where the saying “out of left field” originated.  For $25/person this 90 minute tour takes you to through different areas of the ballpark, including inside the press box, the Cubs locker rooms and into the Cubs dugout (on non-game days).

Our tour guide John entertaining us with fascinating information about the ballpark

Getting a glimpse of the Cubs locker room

Me, just chillin’ in the Cubs dugout

Some fun and interesting facts I picked up during the tour:

–  Charles Wrigley was the first ballpark owner to let people keep foul balls

–  The tradition of playing the Star Spangled Banner before games started at Wrigley Field (before it ever became the US anthem)

–  Wrigley Field was chosen as part of the set of the movie A League of Their Own, Charles Wrigley sponsored the only all women’s baseball team

–  Their scoreboard is still manually operated

….you’ll just have to go on the tour to learn more! 😉

Be prepared, you will be touring parts of the stadium that are exposed with no relief from the sun.  So on those hot hot days you will definitely need the sunscreen, sunglasses, light clothing and a hat.  Check out their website for tour dates and times.  I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time online as tours can quickly sell out and there isn’t much to do in that area to kill time.  Wrigley Field is can be reached via the red L train line.

I am hoping to visit Chicago again someday, please feel free to share any of your must see’s or must do’s!

PS. Take a peek at my Flickr Chicago album for more trip photos

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3 Responses to Chicago trip highlights Part 2: What to do in Chicago

  1. Wow! I wish we could have visited the zoo in Chicago. What wonderful views!

  2. Margaret Ann says:

    Wow. That is wonderful. Your write ups are very informative and certainly make me want to visit Chicago. Thanks for sharing your adventures, pictures and research!

  3. Your very welcome! Chicago is a great city to visit 🙂

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