Not every unique Chicago experience has to be nourishing—either gastronomically or culturally. The city is packed with unusual pleasures, from chilling at a coffee shop in the bowels of the city, to catching a flick at a concert venue–turned movie theater, to going a few rounds of classic mini golf. Get in on the secret and check out some Chicago attractions off the tourist-beaten path.
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Offbeat things to do in Chicago
When the Vic Theatre’s not hosting rock shows or the taping of Hannibal Buress’s latest comedy special, it turns movie house, screening second-run multiplex titles for a relaxed, imbibing crowd. You can even have a pizza (or anything else) delivered to the venue and eat it at your seat.
Oh, the glorious, glorious Pedway, that system of tunnels that allows us to navigate among 50 downtown buildings on Chicago’s most brutal winter days while (mostly) staying out of the cold below ground. Of course, the Pedway’s not just for winter, dotted as it is with underground outposts of coffee kiosks, lunch spots, shops and even bars. And exploring its crannies can be an entertaining way to get around while dodging summer tourist crowds as well.
Its movie-star sibling Lower Wacker Drive might be more famous, but the underbelly of the Mag Mile is more confounding. Go exploring its semi-subterranean depths and you may feel like you’ll never get out; there’s a reason we made successfully navigating it a Chicago rite of passage. But it’s the only way to get to gems like the original Billy Goat Tavern or board a Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise, so down the steps we go.
The sprawling cemetery in Uptown dates back to 1860 and serves as the final resting place for many prominent Chicagoans, among them Louis Sullivan, Marshall Field, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ruth Page, Joseph Medill and Roger Ebert. (City planner Daniel Burnham got his own private burial island—make no little funeral plans.) Self-guided walking tours are free from April to November, and guided tours are available from the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago History Museum.
Technically, the Bunny Hutch is just the name of the hot dog and ice cream shop on site at Novelty Golf and Games, which also includes batting cages and an arcade along with its two 18-hole miniature golf courses. But the lapine appellation has come to refer generally to the vintage entertainment complex on the Lincolnwood side of Devon Avenue, where you can putt-putt through windmills, clowns and other old-school obstacles.
Originally a hub of Chicago’s bustling railroad industry (and the home of the Pullman railroad car company) this southern neighborhood contains a large number of historic buildings that date back to the 1880s. A good place to start your visit is at the Historic Pullman Visitor Center, where you can set out on a self-guided walking tour which includes the Hotel Florence, the clocktower and Greenstone Church. Look closely and you may recognize a few landmarks from movies like Road to Perdition and The Fugitive.