Chicago’s Guide to the Unusual

on Sep16

15 September 2017 | 8:25 pm

Chicago’s Guide to the Unusual

I know I must sound like a broken record, saying week after week how much I love Chicago and the million amenities that it has to offer, but that’s because it’s true. I recently read an article about a San Francisco man who lived in Chicago for the last 3 ½ years and had a miserable time living here, and I had a hard time really buying it. Chicago has always felt like a very inclusive city to me where people go above and beyond to try and connect with you so I’m sorry buddy if you had a tough time (everyone’s experiences are different), but I also have a hard time believing you’ll have a more friendly experience in New York. He and I moved to Chicago around the same time and have both lived in Buena Park and Logan Square, and if I had met him I would have genuinely tried to help him connect with other people in the city. However, this isn’t what this article is about at all. The point is to explore and recognize the things Chicago has to offer and be open enough to try them. So here are some of a few odd or unusual places to visit in Chicago.


Money Museum

Ever heard of Chicago’s Money Museum? Neither had I until very recently. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum (230 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604) features unique displays, education on money origins and money facts.   This museum is so close to a huge tourist spot (aka Sears Tower), so instead of taking your guests to the usual places, why not explore somewhere new and exciting with them! Admission is exactly $0 so no charge for admission and you get to leave with a bag of shredded money and take a photo with a suitcase full of a million dollars. Have fun and learn with the family about the true value of a dollar.

International Museum of Surgical Science

Another peculiar Chicago museum is the International Museum of Surgical Science (1524 N Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60610). Located right off of Lake Shore Drive you’ve probably passed it a million times before without a second look. The museum sits inconspicuously between homes and would otherwise just be thought of as another beautiful Lake Shore Drive home. Once you enter this beautiful building, however, you can see for yourself North America’s only dedicated museum to surgery. With over 10,000 square feet of educational medicine and surgical science material, the museum collects art along with artifacts. You can see pain and pain management exhibits, x-rays and medical imaging history as well as a contemporary art gallery display.


The Violet Hour

True fact, The Violet Hour was one of the first Chicago bars I’d ever visited. Staying at a nearby hostel in Wicker Park, I’d heard this was the place to check out. From the outside it doesn’t look like much (especially in the daytime) but when night comes around a line forms outside this (not so) secret door. The outdoor mural constantly changes and can be seen from across the way at Big Star’s patio, but once through the doors you will be transported to a classy and unique speakeasy. The Violet Hour opened 10 years ago and transformed the way we’ve seen bars and speakeasies around the city. To remain open for the past 10 years says a lot too, when we live in a time where bars and restaurants struggle to keep up with trends and ultimately fail. The Violet Hour is chic and with that small edge of a speakeasy gives it just enough momentum to keep going.

The Drifter

Another cool speakeasy spot The Drifter (676 N Orleans St. 60654) calls an actual former speakeasy its home. The Drifter is located under Green Door Tavern and you’ll have to find your way down in under to get in. Once you go downstairs, near the restrooms is a wooden door where you have to knock and a doorman will let you into this legit speakeasy. It’s a cozy space that feels like what it probably was like back in the actual speakeasy heydays. Serving up great cocktails and providing a lovely setting, this is a great little spot to take people who want to explore new places.

The Heavy Feather

Another cool bar inside of a bar, The Heavy Feather (2357 N Milwaukee Ave 60647) resides upstairs inside of Logan Square’s Slippery Slope. It’s not so much a secret speakeasy, but I’m surprised more people haven’t heard of the place. It’s a cool 1970s chic lounge that screams 70s and transports you to another time. A time where sipping fun cocktails and lounging with friends near bear rugs was cool. They also serve up fancy frozen alcoholic milkshakes that are quite tasty. After a nice dinner out you can make the stop here to get some boozy dessert. On top of the milkshakes they have great cocktails and a topnotch lounge. When you’re done with your drinks you can go downstairs and dance your heart out on the sweaty Slippery Slope dance floor.


Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

You WON’T find anything special at the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. (1276 N Milwaukee Ave. 60622) store, wink wink. Previously known as “The Boring Store!” and “Not a Secret Agent Supply Shop,” this silly store has all your prankster needs covered. They cover anything a spy could ever need, everything from secret disguises to voice modulators and other spy necessities. It’s almost guaranteed that if you’re looking for any silly prankster/spy gear here’s the best place to find it.

Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities

To close out the odd and peculiar guide, Wooly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities (1513 West Foster Avenue, 60640) has oddities right in the name. A shop where you can find some of the most peculiar things you’re looking for and probably more things you’re not even looking around for. The primary focus of the store is on taxidermy and things that lend more on the morbid side of things. Human teeth and old hearing aids, all of these things and more are readily available at Wooly’s. So make a visit and maybe walk out with a taxidermy alligator lamp, no one’s here to judge you.

With all of these cool, funky and bizarre places to visit, Chicago truly does have a little something for everyone. So be bold, be adventurous and get out there and see some of Chicago’s hidden and strange gems.

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