4 Unique Chicago Experiences Everyone Should Do

From a jungle in the middle of the city to kayaking down the Chicago River, these activities are unforgettable. 

Last month, Chicago was named the best big city in the country by the esteemed Conde Nast Traveler for the 5th year in a row. While Los Angeles and New York City often garner the attention, Chicago modestly thrives along the shores of Lake Michigan. Its unique culture and appeal invite global praise and millions of tourists.

When visiting the city, it’s easy to drift towards The Bean sculpture in Grant Park or The Art Institute of Chicago. These attractions have their fame for a reason and should be visited once, but they only encapsulate a small fraction of the city’s beauty.

Here is a list of four unique experiences that everyone should do. Some hidden gems that show the true beauty of Chicago and everything it has to offer.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory. Garfield Park Conservatory photo from Instagram

If one looks hard enough, they might discover a true jungle nestled amid a concrete one. The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest botanical conservatories in the country, showcasing thousands of plant species and flora from across the globe.

Inside, people can stroll through eight indoor exhibits, experiencing beautiful displays from all terrains. Take a breath inside the lush palm tree forest, or wander around dry cacti and desert plants.

Outside offers even more botanic beauty with over 10 acres of spanning green gardens. Anyone from families with kids to couples can enjoy the rows of exotic flowers and plants.

All the flora and foliage are grown in-house, and exhibitions constantly evolve with newly added plants and exotic species. It’s not often you can find such natural beauty in the middle of an urban city, and everyone deserves a moment in this green paradise.

Green Mill Jazz Club 

Green Mill
Green Mill. Green Mill Photo from Wiki Common

Home to some of the most celebrated musicians like Frank Sinatra and infamous gangsters like Al Capone, Green Mill Jazz Club has been at the center of Chicago’s history for over 100 years. No other place has preserved the intricate history of the Windy City quite like this bar.

Known for its past mob relations, the lounge has been at the center of Chicago controversy and interest. During the Prohibition Era, mobsters ran the Green Mill, turning it into a speakeasy. The hidden tunnels under the bar were meant to transport illegal alcohol and drugs and they are still there today.

Once a common playground for mobsters and jazz prodigies, Green Mill is now a cozy club with live jazz music and poetry readings. Wind down with a glass of cabernet or an old-fashioned and let the ambiance transport you back to the 1940s.

Bahá’í Temple

Bahai Temple
Bahai Temple. Bahai Temple photo from Instagram

Although located just outside of Chicago in Wilmette, Illinois, the Bahá’í Temple is worth the drive. As the only Bahá’í house of worship in all of North America and one of the few temples in the world; this place is a spiritual, national treasure.

The Persian prophet, Bahá’u’lláh founded the Bahá’í Faith and advocates for true equality across humanity. Its followers believe that all races, religions, and people can come together as one united, equal species one day.

The towering stone structure carved with intricate designs is a haven for all people, inviting those of all backgrounds to come and pray or just have a moment of peace. There is literally no other place on this continent like this. Visiting this temple is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Wateriders: Chicago Kayak Tours and Rentals

Waterrides kayak
Waterrides kayak. Kayak photo from Instagram

The Chicago River is just one element of the city’s beauty. Tours and boats often float down the current as people awe at the surrounding skyscrapers and bridges. But what about kayaking down the river?

Yes, that’s right, kayaking. Water Rides, the touring company, offers precisely that. People can have the unforgettable adventure of paddling down the river in a kayak along towering buildings.

Being that low in the river provides a unique perspective of the city that can’t be recreated on boats or rooftops.

The company offers a wide range of tours, from Chicago’s fascinating history and architecture to romantic sunset paddles. They even offer the option to watch Navy Pier fireworks. Indulge in an unparalleled way to view an already gorgeous city.

Famous monuments and destinations will always be fun and exciting. But sometimes the most unforgettable experiences take a little extra hunting to find.

George Hashemi

Content Editor Associate

George admires the power of the written word and its ability to communicate different cultures and destinations to others. He is an avid reader, foodie and voyager. You will probably find him on a food-tour in Madrid, or curled up with a book in the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen, Morocco.

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