What better way to get to grips with a city than to ask the locals, and the LGBTQ locals at that?
These are their little-black-book tips for those sultry summer days.
Artistic Director of About Face Theatre, which is dedicated to plays and events that explore and celebrate the LGBT community.
- Free Millennium Park Summer Concert Series. Sit beneath the stunning Jay Pritzker Pavilion, admiring the skyline and listen to free concerts on Monday and Thursday evenings throughout August.
- Street fairs, and especially Pride (30 June), which is a biggie this year because of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewell riots. Also Market Days in Boystown (10-11 August) is a massive street party celebrating diversity. We basically get two Prides in Chicago!
- Biking along the lakefront. Grab a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals at Foster Beach, hydrate (sort of) with a cup of coffee, and set out along the lakefront trail. The rentals cover everything from a kids’ trailer to a double-seat surrey.
- People-watching at Navy Pier. Chicago’s biggest tourist attraction welcomes more than 9 million people each year to its array of attractions, including IMAX movies, tour boats, and the iconic Ferris Wheel. But I’m happy just hanging out and taking in the scene. Get yourself a pretzel and a soda or beer, and it’s a cheap night out!
Former executive chef at Ada Street and the chef/owner of Split Rail Chicago which serves Midwest farm-to-table cuisine
- Green City Market. Getting your hands on the produce you’re going to work with is priceless. The market is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and is more than just a place for the public to go pick out fresh, healthy food—it’s like a matchmaking site that partners farmers with chefs. Many of the vendors, including Nichols Farm and Orchard in Marengo, IL, will deliver their high-quality produce directly to the restaurant.
- Going out on Lake Michigan. It’s the only place to get the best skyline view of Chicago. As a bonus, the poor cell service forces you to unplug and focus on the moment. In a city that’s in the middle of the country, to have a big lake like that is amazing.
- The back patio at Sportsman’s Club. This bar in the Ukrainian Village serves inventive cocktails, as well as craft beer and wine. It’s kind of tucked away and hidden, and they have different local chefs come and barbecue on the patio.
- The Back Lot Bash. Women flock to this festival for sick live music, smart stand-up comedy, and celebration of gay pride, and it takes place ALL Pride weekend in Andersonville.
- Parson’s Chicken and Fish. Hot sauce spices many of the entrees at this affordable farm-to-table spot in Logan Square, and you shouldn’t leave without trying the pie of the day courtesy of nearby Bang Bang Pie. The frozen cocktails are perfect for summer, especially the original Negroni slushy made with Letherbee gin, Luxardo bitter, sweet vermouth, and citrus.
Owner and operator of History on Tap, which shares Chicago’s history during beer-centred tours. Liz is also on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Brewseum.
- Walking around Lincoln Park and admiring the architecture of the homes and walking down the leafy streets. Behind the Chicago History Museum, you can see Lincoln Park, which spans 1,200 acres in the heart of Chicago and includes a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a rather curious sight—a solitary grave. When workers removed graves from what used to be the Chicago City Cemetery, the Couch Mausoleum was the only stone that stayed behind.
- Wrigley Field. I’m a huge Cubs fan, so sitting in the ballpark is pretty up there on my list. It’s my happy place!
- Not that I’m here to self-promote, but History on Tap is so much fun! Try The Dead Brewers Society tour, that takes place at Chicago’s storied Graceland Cemetery, where many of Chicago’s most prominent citizens were buried—including a few people of interest.
- Street fairs. They’re very Chicago! And there are so many throughout the summer it’s hard to keep up.
- Eating, drinking, and dancing. For dinner, the outdoor space at Orso’s Italian Restaurant in Old Town – where window boxes teeming with greens overlook the tables – is lovely. The inside decor feels like an old-world Italian ristorante. Then head to Danny’s Tavern, which is located on a residential strip of Bucktown and feels like a house party from the moment you arrive. Friendly, down-to-earth bartenders sling cheap drinks and chat freely with guests in the unassuming, multi-room space. They have live DJs, literally, in the living room!