It’s Back to School Season so this article is a guide specifically for college students and twenty-somethings living in Chicago who never know what age-appropriate activities they can do when family is in town. While some moms are cool enough to enjoy clubbing, a lot of us have to block our family on Facebook out of fear of random phone calls at 2am or horrifying conversations at the next holiday meal. And remember if you have never been to the city or are new to it still, sometimes the more enjoyable acitivities are the touristy stuff – that’s why it’s touristy stuff. So for those of you who need to cross a good time with good behavior, here are the top 15 things you can do that are appropriate for showing your older family members a good time in the city (in no particular order).
– People ages 40 and up love both of these establishments. Personally, between the two, I’d pick Buddy Guy’s Legends because they have a live performance from a variety of artists nightly as opposed to the same hourlies who are playing to pay the bills. Either way, it’s a fun musical experience.
(2) A Sports Game
– The Bears, The Blackhawks, The Bulls, The Cubs, Chicago Fire, The White Sox. I don’t care. Pick one and buy some tickets.
(3) Art Institute
– I personally love this place but there are tons of historic art works here that many people can appreciate including Haystacks by Monet, American Gothic and there are always great touring exhibits to see, too. Even if your family members aren’t the artsiest, the Chicago Art Institute is a world-reknown gallery and you can’t help but feel the culture, even when exploring their beautiful gardens.
(4) Any Kind of Boat Tour (Architecture is arguably the best)
– It’s a fun way to see the city if it’s not the dead of winter
(5) Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza – Do I really need to explain this one? Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s. You pick. I don’t care.
(6) Michigan Avenue Shopping… followed by the Cheesecake Factory or Grand Luxe Cafe. It wouldn’t be a traditional, touristy trip without a jaunt down ol’ Michigan Ave followed by a giant dessert at either the Cheesecake Factory or Grand Luxe Cafe.
(7) Willis Tower Skydeck or the Hancock Observatory – If you haven’t done it, get it out of the way. You can see beautiful views of the city at either location and get your souvenir photo taken!
(8) Navy Pier – If you aren’t from the city, this is something I believe you should check out at least once. They display fireworks, there are tons of different boating activities that dock there and it houses an IMAX theater. The Crystal Gardens are also nice and if you’d like to add to the adventure, take a ride on the Ferris Wheel!
(9) Movies or Concerts in the Park – Nothing is more fun during the summer than grabbing a blanket, a bottle of wine and catching a movie or concert at Millennium Park. It’s free to the public and is a nice, relaxing way to spend the evening.
(10) Lincoln Park Zoo – Who doesn’t love animals? Plus, entry is free. (They do charge to park, though.) This is a great spot for families, especially if there are younguns along.
(11) Drumbar – With live music being played inside and an enjoyable outdoor rooftop, this is a great spot to bring your mature family members for a drink in the heart of downtown. Located on the top of the Rafaello hotel, it’s nicely tucked away from busy crowds but only a few blocks from Michigan Avenue.
(12) History Museum – If you want to show off your intellectual side, tai them to the beautiful History Museum. There are many interesting exhibits and the building itself is pretty fantastic. Located not too far from Lincoln Park Zoo it’s a great stop before or after.
(13) Untouchables Gangster Tour – Who doesn’t want to be a gangster? The tour takes you throughout the entire city and gives you the chance to see the world of Speakeasies and gang bangs that Al Capone’s Chicago is known for.
(14) Museum Campus – this is a beautiful area with amazing views of the skyline. So even if you don’t go in to any of the great museums (Field Museum, Addler Planetarium or Shedd Aquarium), at least wander the area. However, if you are going to go to one of these establishments, I suggest the Shedd Aquarium. It’s very fun and lively!
(15) Lyric Opera House – If you can shell out the money for tickets to the Opera, it’s quite an experience. When I first went I admittedly thought I would hate it, however it turned out to be an amazing experience to my own surprise. If you can take your grandma, I’d say do it!