Chicago is a cultural paradise with tonnes of unusual entertainments off the beaten track, from whimsical fairy-tale realms to collectible-record stores. You can see one of the largest Tiffany domes in the entire world or visit a store where you can pick up amazing spy gadgets while helping kids get a literacy education. You can walk into a classic German apothecary dating to the early 20th century or a used book shop with collectible and hard-to-find works in every genre. You'll find hidden statues and tributes to time. Check out some of the adventures you can have with these 10 things to do off the beaten track in Chicago.


    Oz Park

    Take a walk through L. Frank Baum's magical fairy-tale world

    • Families
    • Budget

    Oz Park offers a wide range of attractions and play areas themed after L. Frank Baum's classic fairy-tale world, like the Emerald Gardens, Dorothy's Playlot, and Oz-themed statues. As you walk this Lincoln Park green space, you'll encounter the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and, of course, Toto, all built by a local artist. The park has helped to revitalise a area that was in dire need of it, and it now offers a safe and clean green area for residents and visitors alike. A visit here is like a visit to Oz itself, where the Wizard works magic every day.

    Location: 2021 N Burling St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 312-742-7898


    Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities

    Explore ephemera, oddities, and curiosities

    Wooly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities is a shop that offers strange and unusual esoterica and ephemera to help you find that unique, unusual, and perfect gift or souvenir. You can find things like weird taxidermy, antique hearing aids, lice powder, and a collection of curiosities that focus on death and dying. In this shop, you can find bones, urns, unusual medical equipment from a century ago, odd taxidermy like animals turned into lamps, handmade journals from Boy Scouts in the 1960s, and other unique treasures that are changing all the time. It's located city centre on West Foster Avenue.

    Location: 1513 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60640, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 773-989-3294


    Tiffany Dome

    View a historic stained glass wonder

    The Tiffany Dome in the Chicago Cultural Centre is one of the largest stained glass Tiffany domes in existence today and draws thousands to view and photograph the colourful masterpiece. The dome measures 38 feet across and offers 1,134 square feet of mosaics made up of 30,000 panes of glass. The dome was built in 1897 and was designed for the library, which was acquired by the Chicago Cultural Centre in 1986. It portrays the signs of the zodiac and is brilliantly lit with natural sunlight. It's just across the way from Millennium Park city centre and draws over 800,000 visitors a year.

    Location: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA


    Phone: +1 312-744-6630


    Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

    Get your spy cameras, gadgets, and gifts

    The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. is a woman-owned store that sells gadgets and gifts related to spycraft in history and fiction and benefits a nonprofit writing centre. It was formerly known as The Boring Store, but inside it's anything but boring. Here, you can find disguises, voice modulators, secret cameras, even carrier pigeons to complete your spy gadget armoury. All of the profits go to support 826Chicago, a children's writing workshop that helps to bring literacy and writing skills to kids and teens throughout the Chicagoland area. It's on N. Milwaukee Avenue in town and can be reached by the L or the 56 Milwaukee Bus.

    Location: 1276 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA


    Phone: +1 773-772-8108


    Merz Apothecary

    Discover homeopathic medicines and handmade soaps and lotions

    Merz Apothecary is a classic German apothecary located on the North Side of Chicago in a historic building that still operates much as it did almost 200 years ago. The pharmacy opened in 1875 and still houses the original glass bottles and atmosphere, although it now operates a few miles away from its original location. In addition to skin care and hygiene products, the apothecary focuses on a wide variety of homeopathic and alternative medicine offerings, vitamins, natural remedies, and herbs. You can also get handmade soaps and lotions from Europe and elsewhere. It's like walking through a doorway to the history of medicine.

    Location: 4716 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 773-989-0900


    photo by Túrelio (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Myopic Books

    Explore rows upon rows of used books in every genre

    Myopic Books may be a bibliophile's fantasy come true, featuring a massive selection of used and collectible books spanning just about every style and focus. Here, you can find fiction, history, conspiracy theory, politics, academics, true crime, and just about anything else you can imagine. The owner is distinctly old-school and academic; in fact, cell phone use is not permitted in the store at all. The store features events like poetry readings, experimental music performances, and other offerings by some of the most cutting-edge up-and-comers in the city. It's located in the Wicker Park area along N Milwaukee Avenue.

    Location: 1564 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 773-862-4882


    Eternal Silence

    Snap a photo of a mysterious statue ... if you can

    Eternal Silence is also colloquially known as The Statue of Death and is an internationally recognised statue that has stood in the Graceland Cemetery since 1909. This historic statue has become one of the most unforgettable monuments in the cemetery and is surrounded by a wide range of myths and legends. Amongst the most famous of the legends surrounding the statue is that looking into its eyes will show you the nature of your own death. In addition, visitors have claimed to see its arms move and have even claimed that the statue causes cameras to malfunction. It's just streets away from the city centre park on N Clark Street.

    Location: 4001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613, USA


    Phone: +1 773-525-1105


    photo by IvoShandor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Fountain of Time

    Check out a historic sculpture commemorating the ageing process

    The Fountain of Time is a historic sculpture that starkly portrays the passage of time on the human body from infant to child to adult to senior and into death. The sculpture was created using an arts grant the city received in 1905, but it took almost 2 decades to complete and was finally dedicated in 1922. The art installation sits in the heart of Washington Park and depicts 100 human figures from every stage of life, all looked over by the hooded-and-scythed figure of Father Time. Not only does it represent the inevitability of time, but also the first century of peace between the US and Great Britain after the War of 1812.

    Location: 6000 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 773-256-1248


    Dusty Groove

    Find that perfect collector's vinyl in an intensely curated collection

    Dusty Groove is a vinyl-lover's paradise, a record store that specialises in old LPs and 45s, known as "dusties," focused on the soul and blues heyday of Chicago. The store was the brainchild of a few University of Chicago radio station DJs in the early 1990s and became a staple of the East Village area bordering Noble Square. The store today is internationally renowned for its vast offerings of vintage and rare records. It's tucked into a large and airy space, and the curated collection is outstanding. Visitors be forewarned, though; this is a collector's trove with collector's prices to match.

    Location: 1120 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 773-342-5800


    photo by Dusty Groove (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Secret Mermaid

    Discover a stunning statue carved in secret

    • Photo
    • Unusual

    The Secret Mermaid is an unauthorised statue of a mermaid that has become a preserved local landmark of the Chicago waterfront. It was created in 1986 by 4 guerilla artists who spent 9 days and nights secretly carving the statue into a rocky outcropping along a hidden spot near the water. The statue spent several years as a local secret until the US Army Corps of Engineers rediscovered it in 2000, which led to a flurry of theories by the press as to its origin. By 2007, the statue was restored and later moved to Oakwood Beach, where it has sat since 2010 and is visited by thousands every year.





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