Fun stuff to do in Chicago & suburbs?

I live 30 miles southwest of Chicago in a nice little suburb. Lately I’ve been tired of going out and doing all the same old stuff in my suburb, so I looked to Chicago for stuff to do. I’ve done the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute, Sears Tower, Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, Navy Pier…basically all the touristy stuff. I went to Venitian night last night; that was pretty cool.

I want some ideas for cool things to do in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. I’m tired of all the general tourist things. I’m 19, if that makes a difference in your recommendations.

I only have until August 19th before I move back to school (downstate), and in that time I want to impress my friends with my creativity. Thanks in advance for your responses.

On Sunday from 8-3 there’s the Maxwell St. Market, an outdoor flea market at the corner of Roosevelt and Canal that is great for people watching, finding stuff cheap and the best damn Mexican food in the Midwest.

On Tuesday night there are movies in the park at Grant park kitty corner from the Petrillo bandshell, a good time all around.

The museums are always fun, the Art Institute is free on Tuesdays.

Oak St. Beach is good for people watching just be careful on the bike paths!

Thursday night there is ethnic dancing and instruction at Summerdance.

Or how about one of the zoos? Either Lincoln Park in Chicago or Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield.

Maybe you would enjoy a Chicago River cruise?

If you like plants there’s the Morton Arboretum in West Suburban Lisle.

If you want to trek out to Gurnee there’s Great America

If you’re interested in Ernest Hemingway or Frank Lloyd Wright, there’s always Oak Park

You can find more stuff to do here

There’ve been dozens of “How to Have Fun in Chicago” threads, most of them in the IMHO forum.

I always recommend Graceland Cemetery.

Also the Jazz Record Mart on Wabash and Grand, and that little rare bookshop on Maple and Dearborn that sells all those cool Charles Kerr Publishing titles about radical and labor history.

Sounds like you’re pretty close to Plano, IL, where Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House is finally open to the public after years of uncertainty and wrangling. A must-see for fans of modern architecture.

Damn you Southpaw, you took all of my suggestions. So now, I say go swimming in the lake while the weather is warm.

Charter a sailboat. Personal recommendation: do an overnight sail across to Saugatuck:

Wheeling Water Park is cool:

Take a flying lesson – or have them do a waterfront tour. You’ll appreciate Chicago more from the air:

Go boating on the Chain of Lakes:

Go biking on the lakefront, including at stop at the Lincoln Park Zoo and any of dozens of eateries.

Tour the Trib:

I can’t recommend Cantigny highly enough - we LOVED it! (

There’s also Santa’s Village ( if you feel like driving that far, and the Union Train Museum ( which is also a bit of a hike.

You could check out concerts at Ravinia (, and there’s also the Cuneo Museum (

Yeah, some of these are a bit of a drive (I’m originally from the SW Burbs myself) but if you make a day out of it, it’s worth it.

Mucho thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I did do a search on this type of stuff before I posted, but a lot of it was for people who haven’t ever been to Chicago. Like I said, I’ve done most of the tourist-y stuff.

I’m an avid people watcher, so some of this stuff sounds pretty interesting. Should be fun! Thanks again.

Swing by Portillo’s and get some ribs, Friday evening, near close. Wierd people can be seen. And the ribs are worth the trip.

Mmmmmm…Portillos’ breaded chicken croissant …drooooool.

I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law this past weekend, and we went to the Naperville Riverwalk. Nothing earthshattering, but a nifty li’l place to wander around and watch people or chipmunks or ducks.

I am indeed all too familiar with the Naperville Riverwalk. Nice little place. Love the dandelion fountain.

Plus they’ve got a Cold Stone Creamery there. Good stuff.
(believe it or not, I’m terribly skinny)

Could you find a way to get in Stateville? Or how about visiting an old caboose with a toilet? You could also pose in front of a big metal man, for no reason whatsoever. When you’re really in the mood for driving for nothing, go see the agricultural crash memorial.

Sadly, I can no longer suggest the gaudiest (unused) railroad depot ever. It was painted neon pink and yellow and green and blue and it was the ugliest eyesore a town could ever have. Last time I saw it, it had a paint job. :frowning:

I’m up to six punches on my Cold Stone card, interface. I don’t know why I keep going back. Love that $5 ice cream, I guess.

You could go see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a set of 30 pseudo-improv plays performed within 60 minutes. The randomness of the show will be a little off-putting to some, but the payoff is side-splitting laughter when you hit a confluence of a good play with a warmed-up cast and a good audience. Some features of the show:

  • Admission is 5.00 + (1d6)
  • “When we sell out, we order out” – if you’re in a packed house, you get pizza after the show.
  • Personalized name tag (if you’re lucky)

Conservatives be warned: this is home-brewed “neo-futurist” theater. The performers are the writers, and they are Big-City Chicago Liberals. Your President and Attorney-General are almost certainly going to be defamed.

One time when they ran out of seats and I had to sit on the floor, I was one end of an actress’ shuttle run. I can’t really remember the point of that play, though.