Alternatives to Chicago’s best (and busiest) attractions


by Heather Lusk

Autumn in Chicago is perfect with the sunlight glistening on the Chicago River and cool breezes coming across Lake Michigan. It’s when crowds flock to Navy Pier, rooftop bars and the many architectural boat tours. Instead of fighting the crowds, avoid them completely with a twist on the best activities Chicago has to offer.

Instead of a Cubs game, get a behind-the-scenes perspective with Wrigley Field Tours.

This off-season guided tour takes visitors to the dugout, the visitor’s clubhouse and onto the field. During the 60-minute tour visitors learn more about the team, anecdotes about players and experience the stadium from a unique vantage point.

Instead of an architectural boat tour, take an interior architecture and history tour.

Inside Chicago Walking Tours will take you into some of Chicago’s most historic buildings and the stories behind the bricks. The guide intertwines facts and folklore while explaining the details of building designs both inside and out.

Instead of activities at Navy Pier, visit Chicago Athletic Association’s Game Room.

The historic CAA Hotel in downtown Chicago has dedicated its second floor to entertainment. Play bocce, shuffleboard, billiards or foosball all indoors on those chilly Chicago evenings. The game room restaurant features a menu of street food and crafted cocktails. Located across from Millennium Park, the hotel itself is an interesting attraction. Built in 1893 the structure was patterned after the Doge’s Palace in Venice and has hosted the likes of Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller and football’s first pro athlete, Pudge Heffelfinger.

Instead of eating deep dish Chicago-style pizza, make your own. 

Learn to build your own Chicago pizza at Pizzeria Uno where deep dish originated. Even though their business is now franchised around the country, the original location opened in Chicago in 1943 with an idea for an unusual crust using authentic Italian spices. The hands-on experience explains the history of their pizza, how to properly prepare the crust and the best way to build a pizza.

Instead of drinks on a rooftop bar, focus on Prohibition.

Follow in the footsteps of gangsters and visit former speakeasies as you learn Chicago’s attempts and failures at temperance. Chicago Prohibition Tours takes you to multiple hidden locations over four hours to taste cocktail recipes popular 100 years ago and learn about the city’s relationship with Prohibition.

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