Illinois

Things to do in Illinois

It’s only fitting that Chicago—home to the second-largest Mexican population in the United States—would have a world-class museum dedicated to Latino arts.

Specializing in outsider and contemporary pop art, Mars Gallery is said to possess a special energy due to its location atop a purported vortex within the earth. Whether you’re a believer of the energetic vortex or not, the regular exhibitions are worth a visit to this one-of-a-kind gallery.

Amid countless coffee chains, Fabcakes is a welcome change for your caffeine fix. Red velvet-draped walls add to the cozy atmosphere of this café, where customers enjoy freshly baked goods and lattes flavored with homemade syrups, like pepper-fig and vanilla-rose.

Housed in a former gear factory, the Lillstreet Art Center, founded in 1975, accommodates students, teachers, and lovers of art in this spacious brick building. The gallery and gift shop showcase the work of both emerging and recognized artists.

Logan Square’s residents cheered the reopening of this 1915-built movie house, which has been refurbished in all of its Art Deco glory. Film showings range from new releases to indies and cult classics.

Even if you’re not traveling by train, Chicago’s Union Station is a destination in and of itself. Originally designed by the celebrated architect Daniel Burhma, the Great Hall, with its 18 Corinthian columns, pink marble floor, and five-story vaulted ceiling, is breathtaking.

River North’s neighborhood blues bar, Blue Chicago is notorious for its songstresses. Grana Louise, Big Time Sarah, Laretha Weathersby, Dimetria Taylor, and Shirley Johnson are just some of the blues women who shake up the stage. Catch remarkable acts, nightly.

This delightful nonprofit boutique sells fair-trade and eco-friendly clothing, jewelry, housewares, and foodstuffs from artisans in more than 60 countries. Pick up a recycled messenger rice bag made by artisans in Cambodia or a Tornillo wood platter made by Peruvian carvers.

Those on the hunt for soul classics—as well as classic and contemporary jazz, funk, and reggae beats—can easily kill a day digging in this renowned record shop’s bins overflowing with CDs, LPs, 45s, and other music of the nondigital and downloadable variety.

The airy, bright atmosphere of Greektown’s Atropolis is a welcome respite from the concrete of the city.

Experience downtown at your own pace with Chicago’s Hop On Hop Off Tours. Tours leave from 14 downtown locations every 20-30 minutes. Visitors can buy tickets at various locations, including the Park Shop below the Bean in Millennium Park or online.

One of Chicago’s oldest used bookstores and a Wicker Park institution, Myopic Books offers bibliophiles more than 80,000 editions, including some collectibles.