When I first moved to Chicago four years ago, I had little idea of what to expect. Coming from another major city, I imagined I would immediately and seamlessly adjust to the environment, but Chicago took its time to really grow on me. Now, looking back, I couldn’t imagine spending college anywhere else. Finding my favorite spots in Chicago has been a four-year process and really helped make me feel at home here. It can be scary to leave the place you’ve called home for 18 years, but the adventures and the personal growth that come with experiencing a brand-new place are totally worth it, I promise. Here is a list of my favorite Chicago places and things, both on campus and around the city.
The Einstein Brothers in the C-Shop is the only one in America that serves dollar milkshakes on Wednesdays. The concept of meeting midday or after dinner to catch up with good friends throughout the quarter with sweet treats in hand is something I’ll definitely miss going into the real world.
Milkshakes from Medici, a Hyde Park restaurant, are another thing definitely taken for granted. Where else am I going to find a deliciously spun mexicana milkshake? I’ll never think of a milkshake the same way again.
The preferred breakfast spot of former President Barack Obama came to be my preferred spot as well. Nothing says Sunday morning like a tray full of eggs, pancakes, and biscuits from Valois! Always a guaranteed good way to start the day.
In the spring and summer, I made frequent trips to the park at the Point and 57th street beach. Nothing beats laying out in the sun with a good book, food, and friends! The view of the Chicago skyline juxtaposed with Lake Michigan is especially gorgeous at dawn and at dusk.
The interactive exhibits at the MSI made me feel like a kid again, but in the best way. The trains, planes, and submarines, and the baby chicks never failed to amuse me! Being within walking distance of this museum helped fill many weekends throughout my time at UChicago.
Great for reenacting Ferris Bueller’s day off, getting to see world-class art for no cost (thanks, Arts Pass) was a huge perk! I’ll undoubtedly miss spending hours gazing at Sunday at La Grande Jette and American Gothic.
Chinatown was my favorite place to eat throughout college. A quick ride away on CTA, I spent many meals grabbing incredible dim sum, bubble tea, ramen, and pho. I even got to belt out pop hits at karaoke lounges! Chinatown was a major part of my college experience and I’m leaving some of my favorite restaurants behind with a heavy heart.
An alternative to downtown, Wicker Park, one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, is also chock full of great shopping and great eats. I spent countless weekends walking up and down North Milwaukee Avenue, grabbing delicious coffee at Wormhole and ice cream at Jeni’s with bags from Buffalo Exchange and Ragstock in hand.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
The best antidote to rainy days is the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Full of beautiful greenery, the conservatory is a great place to breathe and get peace of mind. What better way to spend a few hours than to look at flowers? It’s open year round, free for everyone, and conveniently adjacent to the Lincoln Park Zoo!
Downtown is home to Chicago’s skyscrapers and serves as the main business district. State Street and Michigan Avenue are lined with just about every store you can think of. Walking up and down both streets was a favorite way to spend my Saturdays. As a New Yorker, the hustle and bustle of downtown gave me that busy city feeling that I often found myself missing.
As a lifelong baseball fan, I’m so thankful that I spent four years in a baseball town. White Sox games are super affordable and the field is a short ride away from campus. Witnessing the reactions of native Chicagoans to the Cubs winning the World Series is another unforgettable memory. Chicago’s pride for its baseball teams is unparalleled.