How to See Chicago the Way the Locals See It

Header Image
November 30, 2016

Whether you’re brand new and just moved to a city or simply visiting, it’s easy to find and see the touristy areas. (After all, they are the ones most publicly advertised.) But many of us enjoy finding the holes in the wall – the places that only locals visit – to get a true sense of a new place.

Chicago is no different; we have plenty of fun and exciting tourist destinations. (And trust us, there are a ton of great sights to see!) But many visitors and new Chicagoans alike want to see the real Chicago; the Chicago typically only the locals see.

Here are just a few ways to see Chicago the way the locals see it.

Winter panorama of frozen Chicago

Leave the Loop and visit other neighborhoods

While it’s certainly important to visit the Loop for first time visitors, you can also find hidden gems in other neighborhoods around the city.

Once you’ve taken a walking tour or a Holiday Lights trolley tour around the Loop, try exploring one of the many wonderful neighborhoods outside of downtown Chicago. There are many fantastic restaurants, theaters, and other things to do in neighborhoods outside of the Loop.

Ride the El train

Public transportation is a wonderful (and inexpensive) way to get around Chicago. And what do the local Chicagoans take? Why, the El train, of course!

One of the best benefits of our El train – compared to other cities’ underground trains – is you’ll enjoy amazing Chicago views, as the train is elevated above the ground.

Go to a local bar

Another great way to see a city like a local is to do as the locals do: skip the touristy bars and restaurants and try a neighborhood bar instead.

Rub elbows with the locals by trying local bars and restaurants outside the Loop. Not only will you find locally brewed beers, but you’ll also get a better sense of our rich Chicago culture. Better yet, you might even discover a karaoke or trivia night!

Walk, ride, or run the Lake Shore Drive path

With 18 miles of beautiful pathways that runs along Lake Michigan, the Chicago Lakefront Trail (or Lake Shore Drive path) will leave you with breathtaking views and plenty to see.

Whether you decide to walk, jog, or bike along the path, locals and visitors alike love to commute, get some exercise, or simply get some fresh air on the Lake Shore Drive path.

See a show

Get creative and explore the rich options of music and theatres Chicago has to offer during your stay.

While you can certainly enjoy a Broadway production, there are also a number of small (and terrific!) theatres in Chicago. Some of our favorites include: Chicago Theatre, Looking Glass Theatre, The Second City, The iO Theater, and Goodman Theatre.

Don’t make your Chicago visit the same as everyone else’s…explore like a local during your next visit!