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Beyond the Bean: Chicago's Best Hidden Gems

Beyond the Bean: Chicago's Best Hidden Gems

Picture of Riley Londres
Updated: 9 February 2017
The windy city is home to large museums, parks and public sculptures, but tucked away among the busy streets are some places that might not be found in the typical guide of things to do in Chicago. Here is a list of places that equally make up Chicago’s culture as the more popular attractions, and are worth visiting.

South Side Community Art Center (Courtesy of SSCAC)
South Side Community Art Center (Courtesy of SSCAC)

South Side Community Art Center

Actively seeking to preserve and promote the legacy and future of African-American artists and art, the South Side Community Art Center features several different exhibitions throughout the year. With topics such as ‘Black Comic Book Heros and Villians’ or ‘Ancestors and Angels,’ each exhibit explores the presence of the black community in media and around the world, while educating visitors on the value of their culture. Founded in 1940, the art center now has over 400 works and is still growing, making this an ideal stop for all art lovers. Open Wednesday to Friday 12pm-5pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm.

The Poetry Foundation

For literature lovers looking to bask in the history of the written word, look no further than the Poetry Foundation. The foundation was started in 2003 after a generous gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly, and it has since grown into a place to discover and learn about the beauty of poetry. Since its founding, the Poetry Foundation has taken over the publishing of the Poetry Magazine, which was started in 1912 by Harriet Monroe, and has featured works from nearly every significant poet of the 20th century. Their library boast over 30,000 volumes of poetry, and the building also includes an exhibition gallery and a space for public events. Open to the public Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm.

Pleasant House Bakery

With an ever changing blackboard menu and homey interior, Pleasant House Bakery is family owned and welcomes hungry customers with their farm-to-table baked goods. The bakery specializes in British fare and most notable is their Royal Pie, which is a handmade savoury pie featuring a variety of meat or vegetables. Another of their specialties is their homemade sodas that come in a variety of flavors and are equally refreshing in the summer as they are in the winter, so stop by and try one of their wood-fire oven loaves of bread, a hearty pie or a cool drink on a peaceful afternoon. Open Monday to Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday to Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 10am-8pm.

Gene Siskel Film Center

A place for movie lovers and film buffs, the Gene Siskel Film Center shows a wide range of world-class, independent and international films. Established over 40 years ago, the film center has been providing classic movies to the people of Chicago for decades, has about 1,500 screenings a year, and even hosts guests filmmakers, critics, actors and historians for many of the films. Tickets can be purchased either on the website or at the box office, but be sure to buy them early as they sell out quickly.

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile

Now a grand luxury hotel, the InterContinental Chicago was originally built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, but its doors were closed in 1934 due to the stock market crash. For years the building was left empty and in disrepair until renovations began in 1988, using the plans from the original construction and photos. The hotel now features the same architectural design and decor that athletic club originally boasted. With great marble columns, medieval knights, statues of lions and a junior olympic-sized swimming pool, visitors can get a taste of what living during the roaring twenties must have been like and see the lavish decor first-hand.

By Riley Londres