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The "Don't Call Us Tourists" Weekend Cultural Guide

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 21, 2005 4:17PM

tourist-shot.jpgWith the summer’s biggest music festival upon us, we can expect a huge influx of out-of-towners this weekend. As a public service to any visitors consulting this humble site, Chicagoist is happy to present a brief guide to exploring the city’s cultural attractions when you’re not gawking at rock stars in Grant Park. Since most of y’all will be staying downtown, we’ll keep you within a decent walk or cheap cab ride of the Loop.

Have Lolla ticket prices cleaned you out? Looking to entertain yourself on the cheap? No problem, free entertainment abounds. Faithful readers of this space already know you can download a free MP3 tour of Millennium Park and learn about the world-class artists who contribute to this beautiful public playground. Don’t expect any mention of how all this beauty was terribly delayed and over budget. You’ll have to hear that from the locals.

You’ve no doubt read about the Art Institute, and we’re excited about their exhibitions too, but you can enjoy free museums just down the road. At the Museum of Contemporary Photography, one of the more underrated area museums, you can explore the connections between photos and paintings. It’s open until 8 tonight and until 5 on Friday and Saturday. They’re part of Columbia College, a stimulating campus even during summer recess. If you’d prefer a history lesson and are itching to get your Chai on, walk next door to the Spertus Museum for exhibits about the brave children who survived the Holocaust and charming kids’ books. Something for everyone, indeed. It’s free on Friday, just remember it closes at 3pm for the Sabbath.

Can’t get enough live music? Head back to Millennium Park for the Grant Park Music Festival. It’s the only remaining free classical music fest in the country, so you can see what your town is missing. Don’t want to sit still? Head to Summerdance (actually in Grant Park) where you can shake it like an African (Thursday) or swing with the big band (Friday). For more of that world beat, head to the sumptuous Hothouse for a Peruvian legend (Thursday), Gypsy music (Friday) or Chicago Samba (late night Saturday).

So welcome to Chicago! If you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.

Note: We know you can’t sustain yourself on culture alone, so check out this dining guide.