The rumors are true: the ivy-covered buildings, hole-in-the-wall cafes, and available greenspace for tossing the Frisbee around on UChicago’s campus make the perfect combination for you to live the life of a college student this summer. Lay out a blanket upon the grass in our main quadrangles, which have been recognized as a certified botanic garden, to soak in the sunlight or do some quality people watching. Sip a $1 milkshake while watching the ducklings swim in Botany Pond. Gather up your friends for post-class topic discussions in one of our many on-campus cafes. Pop on over around noon to South Ellis Ave, where you can get a bite to eat from any one of a number of delicious and creatively named food trucks, including but not limited to YumDum, King Schnitzel, and Get Curried Away. And be sure to comb campus over with your friends while you’re here in search of our unique treasures. You have the Harper Memorial Library Reading Room, which we’re convinced was the model for Hogwarts’s Great Hall, the Frederick C. Robie House, a heralded work of Frank Lloyd Wright’s and a National Historic Landmark, and the Midway Plaisance, a stretch of lawn along the southern strip of campus where you’ll find sculptures, and more space for flag football, ultimate Frisbee, or soccer than you’ll know what to do with. Learn more about student life on campus at the University of Chicago!
Surrounding UChicago is vibrant Hyde Park, a cozy neighborhood full of history and culture, with fun things to do and places to go at every turn. Here you’ll find eclectic joints like Encore, a thrift store full of character and resale clothing—Gap dresses for $5!—and Hyde Park Records, a music shop so cool even millennials come there to buy LPs and CDs. You can even walk through a large-scale replica of the human heart and watch baby chicks hatch from their eggs at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Hyde Park is no stranger to good eats either. Start the day with a hearty breakfast courtesy of Valois Cafeteria, known most notably as a favorite spot of one Barack Obama. (Hint: for an Obama-style breakfast, examine the combos off the Obama menu handed out to you at the diner.) That mid-afternoon coffee hankering can be satisfied by any one of Hyde Park’s numerous cafes, including Dollop, a cozy coffee shop right on the ground floor of CNRC, complete with fresh, strong java, friendly baristas, and a host of yummy café treats. Dinner is best served by a trip to Medici on 57th, a restaurant whose menu selections range from bar-type appetizers to more than 15 types of sandwiches to eclectic entrées to pizza. Attached to Medici’s main restaurant is a bakery with takeaway options, which will be perfect for your lunchtime jaunt to any of Hyde Park’s parks or shoreline. For a quiet, introspective landscape, take your sandwich to the Osaka Garden, a Japanese-inspired garden whose scenery includes a waterfall, foot bridges, lagoons, lush ferns, and miniature trees. For something a little more aquatic, head out to Promontory Point, a man-made peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan, where you’ll be able to sit on the rocks, watch the water come crashing against the shore, and enjoy one of the best views of downtown Chicago unfolding in the distance.
Chicago: A City of Neighborhoods
Summertime in Chicago affords a bevy of possibility in every corner of the city. Hop on the CTA for a quick trip into downtown, and soon you and your friends will be posting up for selfies in front of the Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”), atop the Willis Tower (a.k.a the Sears Tower), and at various points in front of the storefronts along Michigan Avenue (a.k.a. the Magnificent Mile). Wander through the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago, press your face to the glass of the 360-degree tropical fish tank at Shedd Aquarium, or get lost looking up at the cosmos in Adler Planetarium. Find yourself crowd surfing on top of the crowd during concerts in Grant Park. Take in the culture and history of the downtown area via walking, bus, or boat tour.
But there’s no need to limit yourself to the Loop. We like to say that, if you haven’t found your thing yet in Chicago, then you just haven’t found the right neighborhood. Are you a sports fan? Grab your nearest baseball jersey and head north on the Red Line to cheer on the Cubs. History nut? Go just a bit north of the river for a blast from the past in Chicago’s Old Town, where you’ll be able to see historic townhomes and picturesque landscapes, pop into Chicago’s History Museum, and then take in a set of sketch comedy at Chicago’s famous Second City Theater. Take a ride on the Blue Line to Wicker Park and Logan Square, where you’ll find hole-in-the-wall art galleries, fusion restaurants, and coffeehouses. Or follow your stomach by heading to Pilsen, where you can not only find great Mexican food, but also explore the arts district and see some of the best mural art in Chicago.
The city of Chicago is truly a mosaic of culture, cuisine, and activity. Whatever your interest or your fancy, you’ll find a place—or, more appropriately, a neighborhood—for it in the Windy City.