As I get ready for a life of nearly full-time travel, I’m both thrilled to see new places and sad to be leaving Chicago behind. (I’ll be here on weekends, but it sounds more melodramatic this way.)
Every day leading up to my first trip feels like a farewell love letter to the Chi, and it’s all I can do to keep from running around the city like Jimmy Stewart at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” “Happy Spring, you old Art Institute!” “Happy Spring, Andersonville Galleria!” “Happy Spring, shady guy on my block who throws his chicken bones into the street!”
I was born here and have spent nearly every absence _ my family’s move to the ‘burbs when I was a kid, college, my first post-college job _ trying to connive ways to get back, even if just for a visit. Now that I’ve been back for more than a decade, I realize how many things about living here that I take for granted, like cutting-edge arts and culture, fantastic food from all over the world and the lakefront.
In that vein, I’m renewing an old pledge to see as many Chicago sites as I can that we typically overlook as natives or that I never seem to make time for. I love the idea of seeing my hometown as I never have before: as a tourist. (But not the kind who wanders Michigan Avenue six abreast, completely oblivious that every resident around them just wants them to move. out. of. the. WAY.)
Here’s the start of my list, and I’m looking forward to adding more along the way. I’ve got lots of weekends to fill, after all.
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Karen’s My Kind of Town List (Frank Sinatra was on to something):
Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour: This always makes me appreciate downtown even more: http://www.architecture.org/
DuSable Museum of African American History: I never feel like I make it here enough; don’t tell my mother: http://www.dusablemuseum.org/
Segway tour of downtown: A friend swears it was awesome and a great workout: http://www.chicagosegwaytour.com/
Friends of the Parks’ L.A.T.E. Ride: A 25-mile overnight bike ride June 30/July 1 that ends at the lakefront at sunrise: http://lateride.org
Neighborhood fun runs: Preferably the kinds that serve beer or chocolate at the end _ or during: http://www.cararuns.org
Chicago Botanic Garden: One word, people: Swans!: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/
Ravinia: One of my favorite music venues anywhere; this year, I will remember bug spray: http://www.ravinia.org/
Chicago SummerDance: Free dance lessons and live music under the stars at Grant Park: http://bit.ly/HhZeUl
Movies in the Parks: I love to see what the Chicago Park District comes up with each summer; “Tootsie” has never looked so good: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/
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