10 Amazing Chicago Hidden Gems

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Destinations, Travel Bucket Lists, USA

Chicago is one of many cities you must visit in the United States. Chicago is famous for its bold art architecture, where you can view many skyscrapers everywhere and the neo-Gothic buildings and museums in some parts of the city. However, Chicago is not just a typical metropolitan city, there is a lot worth visiting Chicago’s hidden gems yet many people rarely visit. Check them out on this list!

Where is it to go in Chicago?

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago cultural center chicago hidden gems
Copyright: realfaketravele

The first Chicago hidden gem you can visit is Chicago Cultural Center. Fun fact, the Chicago Cultural Center is the first free municipal cultural center in Chicago. With its stunning landmark building, this cultural center has two superb stained glass domes that reflect lights beautifully. This is perfect for you if you are looking for beautiful architecture for photography.

In addition to its neoclassical architecture building, you can also enjoy hundreds of annual cultural exhibitions and performances in the Chicago Cultural Center. Some exhibitions and performances usually include films, theater, art exhibitions, music, and many other interesting cultural events. You will definitely love spending time in this place.

Ticket fares: Lucky for you, you can enjoy all year-round events, exhibitions, and performances in the Chicago Cultural Center for free.

Garfield Park

Garfield Park
Copyright: J. Brouwer

If you are a nature person, then Garfield Park is one of the amazing Chicago hidden gems that you must visit. This park is home to Garfield Fieldhouse which has an eye-catching ornate Spanish Baroque architecture style with a massive gold dome on top. Nearby the fieldhouse, there are lagoons, soccer fields, tennis courts, a playground, a flower garden, and a swimming pool which you can enjoy.

Besides the fieldhouse, you can also pay a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory. This conservation center has a marvelous 100 years old glass structure, yet it is still so strong until now. You can learn about different flowers, plants, and trees around the world conserved inside this conversation building. Around the Garfield Park Conservatory, you can find beautiful gardens and nice views of the conservatory.

Ticket fares: It is totally free to visit the conservatory, although donations are encouraged.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

lincoln park conservatory
Copyright: Kate Darmody

Looking for a short tropical summer escape in Chicago? Then, you need to go to Lincoln Park Conservatory located in the heart of Lincoln Park. This conservation center has tropical palms. Some typical vascular plants and other exotic plants which are commonly found in many tropical places are here. This is perfect if you love gardening because you can also learn about these types of plants here.

Lincoln Park Conservatory provides visitors with four different display houses such as Fern Room, Palm House, Show House, and Orchid House. No matter what season you are in, Lincoln Park Conservatory is always lush and green. That is why many consider it one of the best Chicago hidden gems.

Ticket fares: You do not need to pay to visit Lincoln Park Conservatory because that place is free of admission.

American Writers Museum

american writers museum chicago hidden gems
Copyright: American Writers Museum

If you a big fan of American literature, you probably love to dive deep into this museum. American Writers Museum is relatively diverse and unique. You can find some popular names of American greatest writers of all time across the nations from this fantastic museum. You can learn about American literature from the exhibitions here. Some exhibitions you can explore in this museum are drama, fiction, nonfiction, lyrics, poetry, speeches, journalism, and more

If you are fond of writing,  you can also have a fun writing workshop from American Writers Museum. This museum is open to students who want to improve their writing potential in a fun, educational, and interactive way. So, if you want to be the next American great writer, why do not you come up to American Writers Museum and get inspired?

Ticket fares: You can go to this unique museum only for USD 14 for Adults, USD 9 for Senior Citizens above 65 years, USD 9 for Students and Teachers, free admission for Children aged 12 years and younger, and USD 49 for Big Bus combo pass.

The Rookery Building

the rookery building chicago hidden gems
Copyright: raej84

Are you looking for an object for your photography in Chicago? If so, we suggest you visit The Rookery Building, a historical building in Chicago, which has a unique architectural design. This one of the hidden gems in Chicago has an impressive structure of the interior light court and iconic stairs, illuminating the buildings’ square interior plan beautifully.

As a matter of fact, The Rookery Building is considered one of the architectural masterpieces in Chicago, or even the whole US. Thanks to the 19th-century architects Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root, we can appreciate the true beauty of this building. No wonder that, many people have celebrated their wedding ceremony in this iconic building.  Besides, you can also take guided tours if you want to explore more about this incredible building in Chicago.

Ticket fares: The Rookery Building has two different types of tours, Standard Tour and Enhanced Tour.  If you choose the Standard Tour, you need to pay USD 12 as General people or USD 10 as Trust Members. For Enhanced Tour, you need to pay USD 17 as General people or USD 15 as Trust Members.

National Museum of Mexican Art

national museum of mexican art chicago hidden gems
Copyright: National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art is probably one of the best-hidden gems in Chicago you ever found. Why not? This museum has the largest collection of Mexican art in the whole country. You can immerse yourself in the myriad Mexican art collections such as the indigenous weaving and outfits, masks, ephemera reporting the Chicano Movement, and Dia de los Muertos artifacts in this museum.

Every year, the National Museum of Mexican Art has a Day of the Dead, or Dia de muertos, an exhibition where you can learn about the Mexican tradition. Usually, there are some art installations, paintings, altars, and many prints of traditional and innovative mediums to celebrate those who are no longer alive. It is a truly amazing experience you should join when visiting Chicago.

Ticket fares: The museum is free of admission, so you can experience the whole museum as much as you want to learn.

Oriental Institute Museum

oriental institute museum
Copyright: Oriental Institute Museum

Traveling and learning at the same time? Why not go to Oriental Institute Museum? Run by the University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Museum is one of the hidden gems you can visit to learn about archeological studies of the ancient Near East. The museum covers archeological artifacts from Mesopotamian, Persia, Egypt, Israel, Assyria, and Anatolia.

In this museum, some artifacts, as old as 6000 years ago, are displayed such as the world’s oldest rug, various ceramic items, and an ancient saddle. One of the interesting exhibitions in the Oriental Institute Museum is the Mesopotamian gallery which hosts a stunning 40-ton a sculpture of human-headed winged bull from Khorsabad. Are you interested in visiting this educational Chicago hidden gem?

Ticket fares: You only need to pay USD 10 for Adults and USD 5 only for children up to 12 years.

Jackson Park’s Japanese Garden

japanese garden in jackson park
Copyright: Walter Martin

One of the Chicago hidden gems that many people underestimate is the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park. This garden actually has different nicknames. Some call it the Garden of the Phoenix, while others name it the Osaka Garden. Does it have anything to do with Osaka in Japan? That is correct! Chicago has had a sister-city relationship with Osaka since 1973, and the garden is a symbol to celebrate this strong relationship.

As the name suggests, this garden has the features of typical Japanese gardens. You can enjoy the beauty of the garden when it comes to springtime when the cherry blossoms are blooming. You can also find Japanese maples in this garden, which makes it even more magical during the fall season. Besides, this garden is also homes to Yoko Ono Sculpture, representing the symbol of peace. This garden is perfect if you want to have a picnic with your friends or family.

Ticket fares: You do not need to pay the admission fee to enter this garden because it is completely free and open to everyone.

Northerly Island

northerly island chicago hidden gems
Copyright: Steffen West

Do you want to find natural hidden gems in Chicago? Then, you must visit Northerly Island, a 91-acre man-made cape along the lakefront of Chicago’s Lake Michigan. In this hidden place, you can find a 5-acre park lagoon, a concrete trail for bicycle riding and walking, casual play areas, wildlife habitats, and a scenic view of the Chicago skyline.

If you love bird-watching, you can explore this natural wildlife and see the migratory birds staying here for a while. Therefore, bringing dogs to this place is not allowed. Besides, this area is also home to many of Illinois’ natural animals such as Herons and Monarch butterflies. So, if you are a nature photographer, this place is the perfect arena for you to photo hunting natural wildlife. 

Ticket fares: There is no ticket sold for entering this park, so you do not need to spend money for visiting this place.

The Den Theatre

the den theatre
Copyright: The Den Theatre

The last amazing Chicago hidden gem in this list that you must visit is The Den Theatre. The Den is not just a theatre, there are cafes and studios where artists can converse, inspire, create, and relax. There is a comfortable 70-seat performance venue where you can enjoy many attractions such as film screenings, lectures, staged readings, and many more engaging activities.

Many people recommend visiting this hidden treasure in Chicago. The staff working in this place are super friendly and helpful. You will find yourself convenient with their treats. Besides, there are also some cheap snacks you can buy to accompany you in enjoying the performances on stage. They also have a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages in the cafe. 

Ticket fares: The ticket prices range differently depending on the performance of life. You can check them out by yourself from The Den Theatre’s official website for further information.

Are you still not sure of where to start when visiting Chicago? Worry not! JoinMyTrip got your back! We have a lot of trip packages for you to enjoy together with other like-minded fellow travelers under the guidance of our amazing TripLeaders. With them, we guarantee you will have the most memorable vacations of your life in Chicago and the whole United States of America.

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