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'100 Things To Do In Chicago Before You Die' Guide Has Surprises For Locals

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 30, 2016 3:26PM

2016-06-28-100thingsbook-01.jpgphoto credit: Molly Page

Chicagoans know our city is a great place to be year-round, but how often do we venture from the comfort of our well-worn, favorite haunts? In her new guidebook, 100 Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die, local author Molly Page challenges readers to experience the many sides of Chicago.

A fun and informative resource for residents and tourist alike, 100 Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die endorses Chicago icons, like deep dish and Wrigley Field, along with lesser-known local favorites. The book covers an impressive breadth of neighborhoods, from Devon Avenue down to 95th Street. As Page says in the book, “These 100 things are a perfect way to begin to explore a never-full, always-evolving major metropolis."

2016-06-28-100thingsbook-02.jpgCredit: Molly Page

The tips are organized in five categories: Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Culture and History, Sports and Recreation, and Shopping and Fashion. Page also provides suggested itineraries like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth." To develop the list, Page consulted with travel professionals, concierges, the city’s tourism organization, and Chicagoans of all ages. She aimed for twenty items in each of the book’s five categories. Populating the list was easy, she said, but narrowing the list down to 100 items was not.

2016-06-28-100thingsbook-03.jpgCredit: Molly Page

When Page’s publisher suggested that Chicagoans should be considered as an audience for the book she was skeptical at first. But, “I made it a mission to find things that would surprise locals, and not make them roll their eyes,” she told Chicagoist.

This strategy of surprising locals meant getting them out of their own neighborhoods. Page viewed the list options geographically to intentionally highlight a range of areas. “Chicago is a city of neighborhoods,” she said. “There’s such a different feel in each neighborhood. It wouldn’t be an accurate picture of the city if I only included the downtown Loop. That’s not what the city is about.”

Locals who read the book can rev up their Chicago staycation lists with taco tasting at El Milagro Tortilleria, and taking an app-led tour of Grant Park's public art. One place on the list that initially surprised Page was the Magic Parlour, a show led by a third-generation magician in the historic Palmer House Hilton, of all places.

“I was most surprised that there are amazing things in this city that I never knew existed,” she told us.

2016-06-28-100thingsbook-04.jpgCredit: Ryan Bourque

A Chicago transplant of five years originally from St. Louis, Page credits her docent training at the Chicago Architecture Foundation for transforming her from a tourist to a student of the city. She channeled the fresh perspective of a transplant to appreciate and celebrate the city in her writing.

What’s Page’s top recommendation for Chicago visitors? Depending on the weather she’ll send them for drinks with a view at the Signature Room or Cindy’s. For photography, she heads to the pier at 31st Street Beach. While she gives tourists a pass to stick to downtown on their first Chicago visit, Page stresses that experiencing the city outside of what’s seen on postcards means getting out to the neighborhoods.

So before summer flies by, take the initiative to shake up your routine. Despite our best efforts, being a Chicagoan means our city bucket list is continually growing. As Page says: "I’m a Chicagoan by choice. I choose to stay because there's always something new to eat, experience, and do."

2016-06-28-100thingsbook-05.jpgCredit: Diana Nguyen