The Windy City is pretty famous for a few things: deep-dish pizza, Magnificent Mile shopping, the Sears Tower, and some serious professional sports teams. When imagining the Midwest’s biggest city, most people probably picture the most stereotypical and iconic views of the riverside, skyscrapers, and the pizza that fuels the endless competition with New York’s thin crust.
There’s another part of Chicago worth exploring, though, in the nearby neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Offering super affordable hotel (and even hostel) stays at a fraction of the price of city center, Lincoln Park is still within a short Uber ride or public transport ticket to the Magnificent Mile. You can enjoy all the perks of the big city, while feeling like you’re in a cozy neighborhood (and without killing your wallet).
To be honest, even though the main attractions of the city center are just a short ride away, you really don’t even need to leave Lincoln Park for an awesome experience. Read on for my top recommendations for a weekend trip in Lincoln Park…
Wander the Nature Boardwalk
Getting up bright and early, especially on a weekday, is a surefire way to ensure that you’ll have all the Nature Boardwalk’s natural goodness to yourself. I could barely believe I was in Chicago, if it wasn’t for the skyscrapers in the background. I couldn’t hear any traffic roar, or smell any smog, and even the air carried a distinct vibe of peacefulness. I was eventually joined by a few solitary joggers, but the silence was barely disturbed.
But seriously, there are birds other than pigeons in Chicago.
Chicago History Museum
This big and beautiful museum hosts thousands of photographs in an archived library, along with permanent and relevant temporary exhibits. One of the museum’s most popular features is a rotating display of an enormous costume collection.
View the hubbub from afar
why stick yourself in the center of the city, when you can enjoy the view from this serene escape?
The only way you’d remember being in a big city is because of the amazing views of the city skyscrapers in the background. What better way to enjoy a city view, than far removed from it?
Admire the flora at the Lincoln Park Conservatory
tropics in the middle of Lincoln Park, Chicago… no matter what kind of frightful weather is going on outside
Yet another free activity provided in Lincoln Park, the conservatory is the perfect place to wile away an hour or two (which is exactly what I was doing), even if you aren’t a big plant fan.
The conservatory stays at a toasty, humid temperature to keep its tropical plants alive, so it is an especially rejuvenating stop in the colder months (if a bit too steamy during the summer).
Get Cultured at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center
Located conveniently within Lincoln Park (the park within the neighborhood), you can try your hand at woodworking, glass staining, dance classes, and even more artistic programs.
Visit the zoo
the pretty zoo, with a little reminder not to feed the critters
One more of the few free activities in Chicago (most of which seem to be centered in Lincoln Park), even the Zoo is completely costless. Aside from Mexico City, I had never seen another free zoo in my life.
The free entry means it is a popular place to hang out with your kids (and perhaps even more popular as a field trip for schools), so if you want to avoid the crowds try to arrive early.
Eat Deep Dish
Even though I kinda knocked eating pizza as one of the stereotypical Chicago things to do, you can’t come to the city without at least trying some deep ‘za. Two of the big name players (Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s) have locations either in or right next to Lincoln Park. Go hungry, leave stuffed.