Summertime in Chicago means Michigan Avenue is congested with families visiting the city. Unfortunately, most of these families only get to see a very small fragment of the city. Sure they see the “bean,” Art Institute, and shop at the “American Girl” store in Water Tower Place, but Chicago is very much about the neighborhoods and hidden gems within them. Since I love this city, I ‘d lke to share a few off the tourist path places to visit.
If you have kids, especially boys from about 5 to fully grown, then take the L train to Belmont and walk West to “Uncle Fun.” When I am struggling for something to do, I will take my sons there. They will carefully examine the fart pen, fake vomit, rattlesnake eggs, enormous sunglasses, and of course the giant Elvis pez holder. You will find all the gags you can’t find anywhere else. For example, do you know how hard it is to find a squirting nickle? It’s hard to leave there without a few stocking stuffers, like “dr. fart.”www.unclefunchicago.com
What is a vacation without sweets? Since it is unlikely you’ll find great bakeries in the Loop; take a train, bus or cab to Andersonville, and go to the Sweedish Bakery. The samples are reason enough to stay, but the cookies and cakes will keep you coming back. The place is always bustling with people studying the goodies, and the personnel take care of you until every box is tied and sealed.
Lastly, why bother with another cup of Starbucks or Caribou coffee when you can have Metropolis coffee. It is easily accesible by train,bus, or ride the bike path North. Metropolis has consistantly been labeled the best coffee in Chicago. They make their own coffee on site on Granville Avenue. If however you are doubtful about leaving the Mag mile, at least ask the coffee shop if they serve Metropolis brand coffee.
So when in Chicago, do as the locals do and avoid downtown or Lincoln Park.