Image via Flickr by romanboed
I’m planning a trip to Illinois and will be spending one or two days exploring the city of Chicago this Memorial Day weekend. This trip was a spontaneous decision, and I’d like to keep it budget-friendly. So I made it my mission to find free or cheap places to go, and choose the perfect dishes to eat during our visit.
When planning your own trip, first identify the perfect home away from home in Chicago, then take a look at my list of free things to do in Chicago and adding them to your own itinerary for your next trip to the Windy City.
Image via Flickr by Vancour
What to Do in Chicago
- Millennium Park (201 E Randolph St., between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Avenue): Enjoy state-of-the art architecture, landscape design, and art that provide a backdrop for free cultural events. Check out the park’s calendar to learn what’s happening during your visit. You can experience everything from concerts and yoga classes to garden tours and parties. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. I’m excited for the Chicago House Party!
- Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N Clark St): Animal lovers rejoice! You can visit this city oasis filled with wildlife all year long for free. Hear a lion roar under the shadow of skyscrapers as you watch gorillas climb trees. The Lincoln Park Zoo has a full schedule of daily activities as well and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St): Considered one of the top 10 attractions in the Windy City, this beautiful landmark houses one of the most comprehensive art collections in the United States. It also provides free cultural events that range from dance to theater. The Chicago Cultural Center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with slightly shorter hours on Fridays and weekends.
Image via Flickr by sstrieu
What to Eat in Chicago
- Chicago deep-dish pizza: This city has its own special take on a perennial favorite. Chicago deep-dish pizza is baked in a deep, round pan filled to the brim with cheese and topped with a thick layer of tomato sauce. The result is a piping hot, gooey pizza with a buttery, flaky crust. Yum! Try it at the family-owned Lou Manalti’s Pizzeria.
- Chicago-style hot dog: Try this all-beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun at Portillo’s.
- Italian beef: This Chicago classic has seasoned roast beef in an Italian roll, dripping with juices. Order it hot or sweet, choosing from dipped, juicy, or soaked versions. However you order it, this Chicago specialty is a historic icon. Enjoy it at Al’s Italian Beef.
I’m very excited for my trip, and I hope this list of ideas will inspire your own visit to Chicago! Which of these places are you most excited to visit? What dish catches your eye the most? Feel free to share in a comment — and happy travels!
*Thank you, IHG Hotels, for inspiring me to find the perfect things to do on my trip to Chicago*