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Five Cool Things in Chicago that You (Probably) Won’t Find Anywhere Else

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(Thumbnail credit: Sawyer Bengtson)

Chicago is a hidden gem of many major cities, as many people don’t know what Chicago has to offer outside of the Navy Pier, the Sears Tower and the lakefront across Lake Michigan. However, the Windy City still has a few hidden treasures hiding away; you just have to look for them. Here are a few that, if you’re ever in Chicago, you should definitely check out.

1. The Ruins of the 1893 World’s Fair

In 1893, Chicago came alive with thousands of people arriving from all across America, desperate to see the World Fair and all its delights it debuted, including the Ferris Wheel and the Japanese Garden. Today, the Museum of Science and Industry marks where the fairgrounds once stood, though some pieces of one of America’s bygone eras remain. If you are ever near the Museum of Science and Industry, check out the restored Japanese Garden, rebuilt in 1974 after it was destroyed during World War II, or the Wooded Island, a butterfly and bird sanctuary.

(Photo Credit: Leslie Maryann Neal)

2. The Pullman Historic District

Today, suburbs are an incredibly commonplace. But of course, in order for them to be commonplace, someone had to build them. In 1880, George Pullman, founder of the Pullman Railroad Company, decided to build a housing community where all of his workers and their families could live together. At its peak, the Pullman community housed approximately 12,000 people. In 1889, Chicago annexed the city and in 1972 the Pullman Historic District obtained National, State, and City landmark statuses to protect the city from any potential demolition. If you want to visit the Pullman District now, you can take a guided tour some of the more notable buildings, such as the Hotel Florence, or you can admire the architecture by yourself.

(Photo Credit: Travel DK)

3. The Second City

While many comedians enter the mainstream in Los Angeles or New York City, a good chunk of them got their start in Chicago, in the Second City improv troupe. Famous alumni of the Second City include Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Joan Rivers and many others. While the Second City hosts international tours, its first main stage was in Chicago. If you’re ever in town, stop by and prefer to laugh your head off. Many Saturday Night Live stars got their start in the Second City, so who knows? You might be seeing the next main player performing right in front of you!

(Photo Credit: Second City)

4. Oz Park

Want to go and temporarily relive your childhood? Then, Oz Park is just for you! As its name states, this park (located in Lincoln Park, fittingly enough) is completely Wizard of Oz themed. If you want to take a stroll around this park, you’ll find statues of your favourite characters from The Wizard of Oz, including Scarecrow, Tin-Man, the Cowardly Lion and of course, Dorothy and Toto. Sadly, though, the Wicked Witch of the West is absent, but don’t let that deter you from visiting this gorgeous spot!

(Photo Credit: Foursquare)

5. Graceland Cemetery

(Photo credit: Thomas James Caldwell)

If you’re a tad morbid-minded or fascinated with some of Chicago’s most famous people, then a trip to Graceland Cemetery definitely shouldn’t be missed. Many people are laid to rest here, including Bruce Graham (the architect of the John Hancock building and the Sears Tower), Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. (the first African-American astronaut), Charles Wacker (the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair) and Kate Warne (the United States’ first female detective). If cemeteries kind of freak you out, don’t fret! Graceland Cemetery hosts a gorgeous arboretum as well.

Did you think I missed any other hidden gems in Chicago? Or are there other hidden gems like the ones mentioned above in your city? Sound off in the comments below!

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