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Architecture Fri Jul 17 2009

Yes, Even Locals Can Tour Chicago

ChicagoOfficeOfTourism.jpgIn a metropolis of neighborhoods it's easy to feel trapped in your comfort zone--which may seem like an oxy-moron until visiting friends in Wicker Park equates to traveling abroad. And the city's way too big to truly appreciate commuting back and forth from Wrigleyville to the Loop.

That's why the Chicago Office of Tourism's Neighborhood Tours feels like you're discovering an entirely new, self-sustained city a mile or two from your apartment. OK, I know what you're thinking, "But I'm local, those tours are for those tourists who take pictures of themselves in front of Harpo Studios or wait an hour to get into Giordano's." The Neighborhood Tour guides know exactly how you feel--they don't even tour the Loop; or Wrigleyville for that matter. So why not venture a tour of Kenwood and Hyde Park or further South to Pullman's Historical District--two of the most popular tours among Chicagoans.

Here are just some of the tours, suggested by the Office of Tourism, for locals.

Wicker Park & Bucktown
Oct. 24 - 10am-2:30pm
Tour two of Chicago's most hip and eclectic neighborhoods, highlighting Wicker Park's historic park district and Bucktown's St. Hedwig Catholic Church, built by Polish immigrants. Take time to shop the distinctive boutiques along Damen and Milwaukee Avenues before taking in the guided tour of the neighborhood's architecture.

Pullman Historical District
Aug. 22, Oct. 17 - (10am-2:30pm)
"This tour is popular because it's on the far South Side of the city and many locals are very uncomfortable taking the train down there alone," said Chicago Neighborhood tour guide Jason Lesniewicz, who has been giving neighborhood tours for four years. Pullman was actually the first planned industrial town. The tour includes a comprehensive walking tour of this vibrant city, state and national landmark.

Hyde Park and Kenwood
July 18, Sept. 19 - (10am-2:30pm)
Touring President Obama's stomping grounds has been quite popular this year, said Lesniewicz, about the Southside neighborhood deeply rooted in culture and history. Visitors are taken on a guided tour of the Oriental Institute Museum, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and the Osaka Garden in Jackson Park.

The White City Tour
July 25, Aug 29, Sept. 26, Oct. 31, Nov. 21 - (10am-3pm)
Based on the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the White City Tour takes visitors back through time, in what Lesniewicz describes as the most popular tour for locals. The tour starts off with a photographic account of the fair at the Chicago Cultural Center and takes visitors through Jackson Park where the exposition took place. After lunch at a local restaurant, which is included, visitors are taken to see the old elevated rails of 1893 at the Chicago History Museum.

Art Around Town
Aug. 7 (10am-1pm)
This new tour takes visitors throughout the public art pieces that define the city--A city riddled with hundreds of colorful mosaics, frescos, paintings and sculptures, in and around public libraries, parks, plazas and train stations.

Visitors are transported to neighborhoods by motor-coach buses from the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., and range from $20- $30. Tickets and listings of all tours (including tours of historic churches, cemeteries, and even a literary culture tour) can be found at

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Sergio / July 17, 2009 9:15 PM

Can't wait to see the Chicago History Museum and the White City Tour!

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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