The NATO Summit is in Chicago May 18-20, 2012, with meetings at McCormick Place Convention Center and social functions at the major museums such as the Chicago Art Institute.
If you are going to be in Chicago as a political leader to participate, as a Occupy person to protest or a tourist; try visiting some lesser known museums and attractions for a different look at the city. These places are not as world-famous, but they are interesting and off-beat. I appreciate the fact that you could be representing a smaller country with limited finances or be a protester here “on your own dime” and trying to save on expenses; but you still want to do a little touring.
I also want to mention that taxes on items sold in Chicago are some of the highest in the nation. Gas prices and parking fees in Chicago and Illinois are really high. It’s cheaper to take public transportation. The trains and buses are expected to be less crowded as many commuters are opting to telecommute or stay home during the meeting. I do not smoke, but a city smoker told me that a pack of cigarettes is $10. Bottled water is costly. A tip is to bring your water bottle and cigarettes with you.
If you are taking public transportation or walking, bring a jacket with you. Lake Michigan causes “lake effect” weather, and it can be 10 degrees or cooler the closer you get to the lake. The weather is very changeable in the city. You can be sweltering one minute and be chilled a couple of hours later.
Just north of the Loop:
LUMA is the Loyola University Museum of Art. They always have a few diverse small exhibits. Now they are collaborating with Inuit, Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art on the exhibit Heaven and Hell. It’s a fun museum in a fun area of the city to walk around—the Gold Coast. You can go to Heaven at LUMA.
If you want to go to Hell, well it is a distance away and you can’t walk there. If you really want to go see Hell at the Inuit, you’re going to have to take the “El” RTA train or a bus.
Feet First exhibit at the Dr. William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine is a foot and shoe Museum. You want to see a pair of size 44 shoes worn by one of the tallest man in the world as noted in the Guinness Book of World Records? Or some of the oldest pairs of shoes in the world? Go to this exhibit developed by the man who made foot powder and the shoe insert, Dr. Scholl.
In the Loop:
Are you a lover of architecture and design? The city is a smorgasbord of various architectural and design styles. Then you’ll like the Chicago Architecture Foundation and its exhibits on going green, LEED and sustainability or urban planning. It also offers Chicago River architectural tours. It is located in the Loop. Create your own architectural walking tour after gathering information at CAF. Check out an earlier post of mine on the architecture of Chicago for ideas.
Museum of Broadcast Communication hosts a trip back in time with exhibits on the early days of TV and radio shows.
Chicago is known for its innovative, experimental theatre. The further you go away from the theatre district, the more experimental it gets. You’ll save a lot of money if you take in a matinée performance.
South end of the Loop:
Columbia University Chicago Contemporary Museum of Photography has an exhibit on Narrative of Resistance, an exhibit that will appeal to protestors. It has other exhibits such as Armin Linke’s photography of cityscapes and nature; and the photography of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The museum’s total collection of photographic artwork is around 10,000.
Take a Break by the Bean:
Take a break at Millennium Park and rest, relax or stand near the sculpture of a giant silver bean, also known as Cloudscape.
Baseball Cross-town Classic:
The Chicago Cubs and White Sox yearly baseball sports rivalry is this weekend with the cross-town classic at Wrigley Field.
View at the Top:
Visit the Hancock Building, north end of Chicago, or Willis Tower, south end of Chicago, observatories for a view from the top floors of the buildings to see the entire city and skyline spread out before your eyes. The air is clear way up there.
Every big city has certain dishes and foods associated with it including Chicago. There is the Chicago mix popcorn that is cheese and caramel corn mixed together. The Chicago dog that is a beef hot dog with mustard, bright green pickle relish, chopped tomatoes not ketchup, and onions are optional. The city lays claim to two styles of pizza—the thin slice and the deep dish. Both kinds of pizza are delicious and worth a try. There are different kinds of brew like Goose Island Brewery, Argo Tea, etc.
Everything I mentioned is a small sampling of places to go and sights to see in the city during the NATO Summit and beyond. There are many others like Navy Pier and the different ethnic neighborhoods of Chinatown, Greek Town or Little Italy to visit that are further from the Loop.
If you have any smaller, unique must see venues that I missed, please share the information in a comment.