Being a tourist in your city
I have only lived in Chicago for a few years, so I would definitely never describe myself as a local. Still, it is so easy to fall into a routine—autopilot mode—and forget to look around. I would watch all the boats of tours on the river and would be amused by their unapologetic awe of Chicago, a new city for many of them. Moving to the city right before my first few days of school, I never really had that tourist view of Chicago. I think that it may have changed my understanding of where I would call home if I had taken the time to appreciate this new environment and all of its sights. With this in mind, I decided that I will be a tourist for a weekend. And I mean the works—I wore a Fanny pack and took pictures EVERYWHERE. And honestly? It felt great. Here is my journey through tourist life—years after settling in.
We got hungry and decided a lunch break was a must, so I googled classic Chicago food spots. Not in the mood for pizza or hot dogs, we landed on a juicy burger at none other than Billy Goat Tavern. It is a wild experience that I absolutely recommend—the main location is hidden right underneath the overpass. Don’t even think about ordering fries, know what you want when you order, and you will be good to go. Chicago is a sea of amazing food options, so this was just the tip of the iceberg—there are so many spots to explore.
Last on my list of tourist attractions was a baseball game! I go to them fairly often since you can get cheap tickets on many weekdays, but this time I went all out. The whole family wore baseball hats and team colors. We got the baseball hits—this is where hot dogs come back—with a Chicago Dog, peanuts, and ice cream in a mini baseball helmet. I usually don’t buy food at the games or check out the stadium so this was such a fun change of pace and allowed me to see the space as a whole, not just the game.
My time as a ‘tourist’ this summer helped me recognize the beauty in Chicago. Tourist spots are popular for a reason, and this really taught me not to forget their merit. Being a tourist shows you the world in new eyes. I walk past the Bean at least once a week and don’t bat an eye, but it’s something so wild that I am going to start appreciating more. I recommend that everyone—locals, transplants, or newcomers—try out those classic spots and definitely take a ride on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. You will see your new home in a way unlike any other 🙂