What do you think of when you think of Chicago? The former Sears Tower? Michigan Ave? Dying the Chicago River Green for St Patrick’s Day? All these are lovely Chicago traits, but maybe you want to see more than just the clichéd sights.
Just north of downtown Chicago, my mom and I were shown a little piece of Oz. At the corners of Webster Ave and N Larrabee St, you can find a quaint children’s park that was built to help bring up the neighborhood. At Oz Park, you can see statues of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. A simple playground stands on the north side with trails that lead you to each statue. It’s not much, but it is enough to bring out the child in you.
Chicago’s French Market
If you are looking for a quiet place to have breakfast or lunch, look no further than the French Market. Complete with several pastry shops, cafes and bodegas, you can find crepes, sandwiches and snacks to fill you up. I had my fill of banana, peanut butter and Nutella crepe with English Breakfast tea while staring at freshly baked bread. You can find this little market hidden on the west side of the river in a train station.
Café Vienna is a pleasant little Austrian Café in the Lincoln Park suburb north of downtown. If you are looking for a local café for breakfast that is a train ride away from the city center, look no further. I enjoyed their pancakes, crunchy fried potatoes, bacon and eggs with an English Breakfast tea. To-go I ventured to try their homemade apple streusel, whole grain loaf, and spaetzle for later. Free Wi-Fi is not a bad bonus either.
Russian Tea Time
My mom and I have this particular thing about High Tea. It is a British tradition, and we are always looking for the best places to go for tea. Russian Tea Time is located downtown and is truly authentic. I think we were the only people in the restaurant whose first language was English. When you walk in, the atmosphere felt European to me. The chatter of languages you do not recognize, the smell of perogies, stroganoff and other meat-rich meals filled the air. We planned to sit in a little corner and have a pot of tea. I ordered their house tea, a blend of Lapsang Souchong and Indian and Chinese teas. It came in a glass that was set down in a beautiful, intricate piece of metal work. It looked like a piece from an ancient tea set. We waited a while after the tea arrived to get our scones. The waitress kept stopping by to let us know they had to bake them fresh because it was still early. The raisin scones were piping hot when she set them on the table with sides of house-made jam, lemon curd and butter. I am not a fan of raisins, but these scones were divine! Fluffy and a hint of sweetness, paired perfectly with the tea
Route 66 Sign
Outside of Russian Tea Time is the sign for the start of Route 66. This notable highway is one you think of winding through the desert. I personally had no idea that the old Route 66 starts in Chicago. It is a small sign, but it represents a significant piece of US history. Definitely worth stopping for a picture.
The Tiffany Dome
The Tiffany Dome is in the Chicago Cultural Center and is likely the largest in the world. The dome itself is 38 feet in diameter and features 1,134 square feet of stained-glass mosaics. It took 30,000 pieces of glass to create this masterpiece and was recently restored. It is a free attraction and will produce the most beautiful photos.
The Buckingham Fountain was made famous from the 80s TV show Married with Children. It was featured in the opening credits and is one of the largest fountains in the world. Located in Grant Park, it is just north of the Field Museum and south of the Art Institute. Take a walk in the park and see this enormous fountain’s beauty.