With an avalanche of content being fed to you by an eerily personal algorithm and only a finite amount of time on your commute, it's easy to get lost in the social media maelstrom that is TikTok. But there's a lot of good, relevant and funny stuff locals will love on the platform, and we're here to help you find it.
Here are our picks for the top Chicago TikTokers who will make you laugh, give the best recommendations and maybe even teach you something new—other than that the big Walgreens at Milwaukee and Damen used to be a bank.
The Anti-Cruelty Society (@anticruelty)
Meet adoptable cats and dogs from your local shelter—if you think you can resist taking them all home after scrolling.
Ashley Baker (@the.chi.concierge)
There are literally dozens of influencer accounts reviewing restaurants, bars and things to do across the city—so how do you know which ones to follow? One of our favorites is Ashley Baker, a.k.a. The Chi Concierge, who highlights the best Black-owned restaurants and small businesses in the city, exhibitions from Black artists, as well as date night and girls’ night activities. Baker also hosts some events, like this Galentine’s Day brunch.
Lisa Beasley (@lisabevolving)
You’ve probably seen her on your For You Page with her hilarious (and uncanny!) impersonations of Chicago’s mayor as “Lory Litefoot,” which she turned into an appreciation show for Chicago teachers when she made her debut at the Laugh Factory in January. But Lightfoot isn’t the only impersonation in Beasley’s TikTok repertoire—she’s also been writing and performing songs for her daughter in the style of singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. Outside of TikTok, you can also see her on TV in shows like HBO’s South Side, and as a co-founder of Chicago4Real, a Twitch hub for local content creators.
Cameron Bernstein (@c.o.bernstein)
If you’ve ever wondered how to say “I was Josh Safdie’s muse when he did Uncut Jahhmz” in Yiddish, you should follow Cameron Bernstein. On her fun, informative account, Bernstein shares her Yiddish learning journey with more than 30,000 followers.
Benny the Bull (@bennythebull)
You already know who it is. With no disrespect to Staley, Sparky, Supernova or Southpaw, no Chicago mascot has a greater social media presence than Benny the Bull, whose TikTok is full of the mascot antics you already know and love.
Bored in Chicago (@bored.in.chicago)
Oh look, another “hidden gems of Chicago” account! What makes Bored in Chicago worth following is the sheer variety of subjects of these posts, from street art and neighborhood curiosities to under-the-radar cheap eats to ways to give back to your community. We love the “how to travel to ___ without leaving Chicago” series, with tourism and restaurant recommendations to turn that staycation into a more exciting vacation.
Chad the Bird (@chadthebirdtok)
If you’ve ever been to the long-running current-events themed variety show The Paper Machete at Uptown’s legendary lounge The Green Mill, you’ve had the pleasure of seeing its in-house puppet avian op-ed columnist Chad the Bird wax philosophical on politics, pop culture, city life and more. Now, thanks to his popular TikTok, you can enjoy the wisdom of the Chad even if you miss the live show.
Chicago Beer (@chicagobeer)
This account gives you exactly what it says on the tin—news, reviews and recs for local beer and local craft breweries. A must for your friend who is always correcting you on the way to pronounce "gose."
Humboldt Park (@humboldtparkchicago)
Humboldt Park is not the only neighborhood with its own TikTok page (shoutout to @enpilsen, too), but it is one of the most varied and regularly-updated, with new businesses, local events, community resources and even updates relating to, you know, the actual park from which the neighborhood gets its name.
Xi Marquez (@ximarquez)
Xi is like the cool local travel agent you didn’t know you needed, offering itinerary ideas for dreamy roadtrips from Chicago. If you’re planning to stay closer to home, she also regularly highlights local date ideas (with a special series dedicated to non-eating and drinking-centered dates), dog-friendly spots, thrift store and antiquing finds, and sustainable shopping recommendations.
Isaias Perez (@thelatinoteacher)
This Chicago teacher, whose account sports more than 240,000 followers, shares a little bit of everything—you’ll find food reviews, videos on education and being a #plantdad, funny stories and the occasional dad joke.
Mylo Reyes (@mylostandards)
Local product designer and musician Mylo Reyes’ TikToks about city life and nightlife inspire as many laughs as they do shudders of recognition. He delivers pitch-perfect parodies of everyone from influencers raving about local “hidden gems” (like hip new burger restaurant ‘M.C. Donald’s’ in Ukrainian Village), to people experiencing their first Chicago winters (“the wind is just ignoring my jacket!”), to people who want to move away from Chicago. (“After four years, I’ve seen it all—Lakeview, downtown. I even went to Pilsen once.”)
Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium)
Otters playing basketball. That’s it. That’s the paragraph.
Rod Thill (@rod)
More than 1 million TikTok users follow Rod, aka “the Internet’s coworker,” for his relatable riffs on the millennial experience, corporate culture, mental health and nostalgia for coming of age in the early aughts. He’s also got a podcast, Millennial Made, where he brings guests on to talk about coping with burnout, 2000s pop culture and more.
Shermann “Dilla” Thomas (@6figga_dilla)
This one almost feels like cheating because if you have a TikTok account and live in Chicago, you probably already know about Dilla. The Auburn Gresham native has been offers engaging and accessible mini history lessons about the history of Chicago’s neighborhoods, notable figures and even sports teams, all under his philosophy that “everything dope about America comes from Chicago.” His passion and knowledge of local history have even led to him launching South Side neighborhood bus tours through Chicago Mahogany Tours, and he’s even fundraising to buy a bus so he can make the tours more affordable, partner with schools and nonprofits and offer more free tours.