Chicago’s neighborhoods are at the heart of what makes the city so vibrant and unique. This summer, the Chicago Office of Tourism is putting the neighborhoods front and center by showcasing them during its summer tourism campaign, Explore Chicago: Take a Neighborhood Vacation, from June 1 through September 30.
For your clients visiting the Windy City, here is a list of eight options for Chicago experiences on a budget.
1. Hyde Park Instagreeter Outpost—FREE
Visitors can drop by the Hyde ParkArtsCenter on Saturdays from June 6 through September 26 for a free 1-hour walking tour with a friendly, city-wise volunteer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most recently known as President Obama’s neighborhood, Hyde Park is also home to the University of Chicago and one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most popular prairie-style designs, Robie House. Visits are on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are needed.
2. Family Day Camps—$10 per person
New this year are Family Day Camps that take place on eight dates throughout the summer and go to four different neighborhood destinations. They are guided by a camp leader and consist of a trek using public transportation, a walking tour, art-making project, music lesson, lunc, and nature activity. Guided by your camp counselor, visit one of four dynamic neighborhoods: Garfield Park (July 10-August 7), Pilsen (July 17-August 21), Lincoln Park (July 24-August 14) or Jackson Park (July 31-August 28).
3. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts—FREE
Explore Chicago neighborhoods with scavenger hunts designed to immerse you in the action. Different hunts will lead you to answers about almost anything, including museums, galleries, restaurants, boutiques and parks. The proof will be in the digital photos of yourself near each find. Besides the thrill of the hunt, new knowledge and happy photo memories, a grand prize could be yours. It will go to a randomly selected contestant who completes all the hunts, has online photos to prove it and answers all questions correctly.
4. Mainstays of Summer in Chicago’s Neighborhoods—FREE
Take time to explore the neighborhoods through various tours, festivals, museums, parades and markets scattered throughout the city. Some annual favorites are the Printers Row Lit Fest (June 6-7); Pilsen Mexican Independence Day Parade (September 12); Lakeview East Festival of the Arts (September 26-27); 80th Annual Bud Billiken Day Parade and Picnic in Bronzeville (August 8); and the Renegade Craft Fair in WickerPark (September 12-13). Another great way to explore the neighborhoods is to take a Chicago Neighborhood Tour. Neighborhood Tours leave from the Chicago Cultural Center and head to communities like Devon Avenue; Hyde Park Kenwood; Little Italy, Pilsen Little Village; the Pullman Historic District; and Humbolt Park, Wicker Park Ukrainian Village.
5. Neighborhood Week at the Family Fun Festival—FREE
Celebrate Millennium Park’s fifth birthday by saluting the neighborhoods that make Chicago special. Visitors to the Family Fun Tent from July 13–19 can find out about Chicago’s dynamic and multicultural communities and join in hands-on activities led by artists from different parts of the city.
6. The Synesthesic Plan of Chicago: A Multi-Sensory Journey Through Chicago and Its Neighborhoods—FREE
Check out the Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center from June 1–September 30 for an exhibition that explores Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods through sights, sounds, tastes and smells. Visitors to the space are encouraged to interact with the installation and use their senses to make a connection with the things they enjoy about the city.
7. Chicago Gardens: Past and Present—FREE
Explore the history, development and wide range of Chicago gardening styles at Chicago Gardens: Past and Present, an exhibition at the Chicago Tourism Center, 72 East Randolph Street, from June 17-August 16. Highlights of the exhibition include a look at the planning and growth of Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden; public gardens in Chicago parks; the Garfield Park Conservatory; community gardens; unique soil rehabilitation strategies; and photographs of private Chicago gardens. After touring the exhibition, head out to Millennium Park and Garfield Park Conservatory to apply your knowledge of Chicago gardens.
8. Explore Chicago Online Games, Insider Profiles and Social Media—FREE
The City’s new tourism website, www.explorechicago.org <http://www.explorechicago.org/> , is equipped with a multitude of tools to enhance your neighborhood vacation in Chicago. Coming this June, visitors to the site will be able to:
• Jump aboard a virtual "Chicago Neighborhood Express," which will transport them to a new neighborhood to learn and explore.
• Create a custom cartoon character by uploading their photo and choosing fun accessories, like their favorite sports team jerseys.
• View the ‘Life by the Lake’ Flickr photo journals series where Chicago-based photographers will explore the city and post their photos.
• Read new and diverse insider profiles of everyday Chicagoans for “insider” tips.
• Print or share online discounts with the 2009 Chicago Guide to Special Values at: www.explorechicago.org/coupons.
Agents can also receive Chicago brochures, reserve hotel accommodations and receive trip-planning assistance by calling toll-free 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246), or visiting www.explorechicago.org.