An Artist’s Travel Guide to Chicago

by Emily Iris Degn

Chicago is cultivating quite the name for itself. Sports, pizza, pop culture…this city seems to be full of entertainment. There is a scene that has not been fully reconciled in the eyes of the public yet- the art scene. Windy City is stuffed to the brim with elements of an artist’s paradise. From famous architects’ homes to award winning art museums, artists of all kinds can find a sort of sanctuary in this bustling metropolis. How do you find those places? We got you covered.

Oak Park

Oak Park rests on the banks and cliffs of Lake Michigan. It offers breathtaking morning views of the water, and showcases hearty maple trees lacing through the streets.

Not only are you getting to pay homage to the artistic genius of Frank Lloyd Wright, but you are also getting to enjoy the sights of his lovely residential area. Don’t forget to grab some coffee while you are in the area! We love L!ve Cafe and Creative Space for their artsy atmosphere, global goods program, and their vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes.

After you’re full on earthy espresso and sandwiches, start heading into the city. Traffic can get pretty bad, so we suggest bringing road snacks and good playlists to get excited for your arrival. Enjoy the insane panoramic views of the city, and allure of the old industrial districts that you pass on the way to downtown. Aim to park as close as possible to Millennium Park- there are plenty of parking garages within a six block radius.

The Bean

Of course, a trip to Chicago would not be quite right without a walk through the Bean. Make sure to have your cameras, sketchbooks, or watercolor sets ready, because this sculpture is quite the sight. The Bean has been represented many times in different movies and TV shows, such as Source Code. You’ve no doubt seen Instagram posts of its psychedelic effects on the eye. The metal sculpture forms swirls of surreal reflections of the people and structures around it, all housed in its bean-shaped structure. Feel free to run under it, and take some close up photos of your swirling reflection. It is an incredible piece of art, and you get to be a part of it!

The Art Institute Of Chicago

After you’re done marveling at the pooling reflections in the stainless steel Chicago Bean, stroll over to the Art Institute of Chicago. Take in the phenomenal pieces of art, from African masks to Bukhara jewelry. This place is a gem in terms of cultural value, and educational artwork. Rembrandt portraits, textiles from the Andes mountains, and Monet paintings all are housed under the museum’s roof. Artists and art appreciators from all over can come and enjoy them for hours and hours! If you’re a museum fanatic, swing on over to the Field Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art for even more educational pieces.

Once you’ve had your fill of famous art, take a walk through the city’s architectural and sculpted art pieces scattered throughout the metropolis.

The Chicago Cultural Centre

Check out the Tiffany Dome in the Chicago Cultural Centre for expansive stretches of blue stained glass and gilding work.

Walk through Oz Park and all of its Wizard of Oz themed sculptures, or work up the bravery to visit the Eternal Silence sculpture in Graceland Cemetery. Enjoy the Gothic architecture of the Chicago Temple, the world’s tallest church!

For That Classic Chicago Food Hit

As far as food goes, in Chicago, you can’t go wrong. For eclectic global dishes, all with river views, stop by The Dawson. For something upscale and artfully crafted, enjoy dinner at Boka. And for an award-winning, colorful eatery, munch on some South American and Caribbean inspired meals-many of which are vegan friendly! One of our favorites is Pizza Art Cafe. This famously creative stop used to be an art and espresso cafe. Now, they have upgraded with a brick oven, and fresh food options.

Chicago Harbor

Filled up on award winning Chicago eats? End the day on the harbor for an incredible glow show- the sunset! Lake Michigan offers some pretty magical views of the evening skies from the city. For those who are not afraid of heights, enjoy the Sky Deck for some larger-than-life views. For those who want something more leisurely and peaceful, stroll over to Navy Pier for a boat tour, or cocktails on the pier. No matter how you watch it, sunsets in Chicago offer colours that can make anyone swoon.

Chicago is a place of work and play. For those who enjoy discovering new shades of old colors, Chicago is one of the most artful places in the world. From the art museums to the sprawling options of rainbow colored food, the Windy City never disappoints.

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