First up on my lesser known gem tour of course would have to be a museum. I can't give you a favorites list of anything Chicago without one! Number one would have to be the Chicago History Museum. 2.5 miles north of the Loop and right at the southern edge of Lincoln Park (the actual park and the neighborhood) this is a perfect place to head to get away from the craziness that can be the Loop during tourist season. This museum is a great place to learn about Chicago past and present. I actually just went this past weekend with my good friend Lauren. I won't tell you too much cause I'm going to have a nice big post for you next week on my blog. Needless to say it's worth the 156 bus ride north. The Chicago History Museum has everything from the 1893 Columbian Exposition (a favorite of yours truly) to Al Capone to current temporary exhibits like the fashion of Ebony Magazine (a Chicago based gem!). Oh in case you're wondering that's me as a Chicago style hot dog at the Chicago History Museum.
Bad Apple is a yummy place I found earlier this year when my friend Saige was in town. It's just a bit south of Montrose and Lincoln, so there are definitely public transportation options to getting there. They are known for being a gourmet burger joint but what really sets them apart is the gourmet frie upgrades. Definitely try the fries with the truffle or garlic seasoning ... but beware of the garlic YOWZA! Not for date nights, unless the person really likes you already, like the hubby and I cause I know he would most likely go for those fries and I would let him cause I'm an awesome wife like that. I actually didn't end up even having a burger that night I had the Hickory Hillbilly (pulled pork) and it was delicious. I did try a bit of my friends Edmund Fig-Gerald (Edmund Fitzgerald porter, fig & bacon relish, goat cheese, smoked onion) and it was so good. I would do it without the onions though (yech!). If you're going on a weekend I would head there early because it was packed but they are open super late so maybe your chances would be better then.
One of my favorite activities that I really haven't done in forever is Whirly Ball! It's bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball smushed into one big awesome time. I mean seriously how incredibly amazing does that sounds? There are actually three locations in the Chicagoland area, one by my parents, one by where I live now (which I didn't know before yesssss!) and one in the city in Lincoln Park. The one in Chicago is right at Fullerton/Damen/Elston so there are a bunch of buses to get there. You could probably walk from the L if you really wanted to but I would take a bus. The whole point is to get the whiffle ball into the basket but most of the time I never got the ball so I was more of a defender. What I can I say I really like bumper cars. It's great when you've got a big group of people who know each other, you always feel a little bad ramming into someone you don't know ... or maybe you don't : )
Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite Chicago hidden gems!