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05.11.2022 | SSP News & Releases

Members Share Their Favorite Things to See and Do in Chicago

Chicago, on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is among the largest cities in the U.S. Famed for its bold architecture, it has a skyline punctuated by iconic skyscrapers. The city is renowned for its museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago with its noted Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. 

As excited as many of us are to return to an in-person event at SSP’s 44th Annual Meeting this June, from attending great panel discussions to catching up with friends and colleagues over drinks, we also have the opportunity to explore! The Sheraton Grand Chicago offers direct access to some of the best-known attractions including the Riverwalk and Navy Pier, but we asked some SSP members to share their favorite lesser-known things to see and do. Read on for some great ideas . . .

  • Chicago’s urban trails – #1 suggestion is to explore the lakefront trail, an 18-mile bike and pedestrian trail alongside Lake Michigan that is, for many Chicagoans, the highlight of summertime Chi. Rent a bike, put on your running or walking shoes, or grab a picnic and head out to enjoy some stunning lake and city views. (Check out Divvy, Chicago’s bike-sharing program, to rent regular or e-bikes by the hour, or rent by the day from Bobby’s Bike Hike, a local bike shop near the Sheraton.) If you’d prefer a more urban walk, the revitalized Chicago Riverwalk is also worth a look. The riverwalk is home to several outdoor bars and restaurants, and the popular Art on the Mart exhibit featuring artwork projected on the Merchandise Mart in the evenings.
  • Architecture Tours –The tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation are the best way to experience Chicago’s rich architectural history. My favorite is the boat cruise along the Chicago River, but they also offer a wide variety of walking tours. The tour guides are top-notch and I always learn something new.
  • Exile in Bookville – If you’re visiting the Art Institute of Chicago (which you definitely should do), allow time to stop by this lovely indie bookstore across the street in the historic Fine Arts Building. There are many great bookstores in Chicago, but this is one of my favorites. The owners make an effort to feature small-press books and make you feel like you’re an old friend even if you’re visiting for the first time.
  • The Art Deco Swimming pool at the Hotel Intercontinental where Johnny Weissmuller used to train is worth a visit. The whole original part of the building is cool and they have a nice bar.
  • The Chicago Cultural Center is a landmark building and worth strolling through to check out the two Tiffany domes. They usually have some free art exhibits as well. 
  • Millennial Park is pretty fabulous and the Maggie Daly Childrens Park that connects to it is also very special.
  • French Market is a big food hall with some other vendors as well and not too far from the conference hotel.
  • The Driehaus Museum is a nice little museum in a restored gilded age mansion.
  • The Newberry Library is a private research library with some unique collections. You need to register for a readers card to get into the library properly, but they have a nice gift shop and exhibit space open to anyone. This is the current exhibit: https://www.newberry.org/crossings-mapping-american-journeys

Chicago also offers some wonderful neighborhoods to spend some time exploring. In particular,

  • Pilsen is worth a visit for boutiques, restaurants, and music venues, and is famous for murals and street art. It is also home to The National Museum of Mexican Art.
  • Another neighborhood for a lovely stroll to see stately homes and visit great restaurants is Wicker Park.
  • You can find self-guided neighborhood walking and more ideas at Chicago Neighborhood Walks.

Finally, don’t forget Wrigley Field! You can take a tour to learn the history of this baseball park, or even better, catch a game – the Cubs will be facing their rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, during the Annual Meeting! However you choose to spend your time, Chicago has a lot to offer to make the most of your trip.

News contribution by SSP member, Nicola Poser. Nicola is Director of Marketing And Sales at the American Mathematical Society. Many thanks to Lindsay Dawson (JAMA) and Stephanie Orphan (ITHAKA) for their great suggestions!

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