CHICAGO hidden gems

Chicago West Loop

Chicago, the second city, the windy city, a giant melting pot of cultures and people. Our weather is all over the place, but it makes a city of hardy people who like to call dibs on parking spots we dug out of the snow. With New York you get honest assholes, with LA you have sunny people who want to see if your friend is a movie director, in Chicago we have our honest assholes but we have our Midwestern culture of a genuine 5 min conversation with a stranger. Chicago unlike other cities has the space to keep growing. Chicago has grown from its great fire, built stronger. The four six-pointed red stars the Chicago flag holds the cities major growth spurts’ Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 an century of Progress Exposition of 1933.  Chicago is such an amazing place that most of northern Illinois will say they are from there. So let’s talk about the hidden gems that even us native to Chicagoans sometimes miss.

West loop

West Loop – The food mecca of Chicago when the food is one of the main reasons for visiting. Used to be a meat packing industry when it was Chicago’s number 1 export in the US. Neighborhoods celebrate with French Market .

Mary Bartelme Park

This little fun park used to be an old infirmary; Mary Bartelme Park is a 2.71 acre park in the West Loop community that features elements combining a sense of history with modern, innovative design. These zones include a fountain plaza, a children’s play area, a sunken dog park, an open lawn area, a viewing hill and enclosed seating area. This is a really fun area to bring your dog or children especially in the summer time because of the amazing fountain sculpture piece in the center. t the fountain plaza. The fountain is 5 stainless steel gates, using about 3 gallons of water a minute to create a cool effect of mist. Great photo with the plus of cooling off on Hot Chicago days.

Pilsen Chicago

PilsEn is such a warm inviting, culturally fascinating hot bed of art,  murals, graffiti and such good food, they even have an amazing Mole fest very worth trying out spicy flavored chocolate sauce. 16th in PilsEn has so many wonderful murals, for anyone’s cool artsy Instagram page. They are also hidden throughout, but a tip is going searching on 18th street, especially where all the good food places are. 16th and Racine Chicago

Outside the Chinatown

Chicago is full of many industrial architecture, from our steel beamed bridges, to abandoned factories from the 50s. It has a very gothic brutal feel in some of our buildings, especially school buildings from the 40s. This steely beamed bridge is outside near Chinatown at the Ogilvie/Union IL Chinatown waterway. Even cooler is the abandoned factory with graphic on the top outside floor wondering how did anyone even managed to tag it as a 8 story building.

Chicago Chinatown

There’s a lot to be said about the small Chinatown in Chicago, but it still has many interesting hidden gems. About 5 blocks with both new and old influences. At the center square with two floors of open shops (best place in town to buy tea). This photo is the staircase in the center that brings you there. Great shops with food, souvenirs, things exclusively from China. Next to the staircase is a great photo spot to take picture of your Chinese zodiac. You may now understand Diva Empire Travel because I am an ox. Across from the square is another 2 blocks of Chinese Architecture. We recommend 3 hours if you liked to explore the whole area. Between Cermak and Wentworth Avenue.

Millennium park

Millennium Park, is the heart of Chicago when it comes nature and modern big city living.  319 Acres encompassing and including Crown fountain, Bean, Lurie Garden, Rock climb Maggie Daily Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and ice skate in the winter in the center, and all next to the Art Institute Chicago. The bridge in the photo connects all main parks together to avoid street crossing. It’s a shimmering reflective bridge made up of many panels. Great photos on sunny days with the Chicago skyline. 201 E Randolph st Chicago Il

State Street

Chicago my kind of town! We have many theaters and Broadway shows available all year round. One of the most photographed spots is on State Street on State Street. Constructed in 1921 one of the earliest grand theaters in Chicago, it hosts many variety of shows, from Comedy acts, musical shows, and big style Ted Talks. Diva Empire Travel recommends this photo from your visit to Chicago, with the Chicago sign. 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601.

Picasso Sculpture

Picasso statue is one of Chicago’s main iconic street arts. We have two major sculptures but the one in Daily Plaza is a super-sized sculpture that can’t be missed and very enigmatic like Picasso is. Dedicated on August 15 1967, it was all pushed by a poem by Picasso as he stated “You know I never accept commissions to do any sort of work, but in this case I am involved in projects for the two great gangster cities” Diva Empire Travel knows Chicago is gangster as it gets. The second sculpture to visit is  Alexander Calder the Red Flamingo. A 53 Foot tall statue at Federal Plaza.

Daley Plaza Picasso 50 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602. Calder’s Flamingo 219 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60604

Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach located on North Lake Shore Drive, right across from Gold Coast, the richest street in Chicago. Is a small beach with a great city skyline starting of the magnificent mile. We have these murals of these blue and pink angel wings, surrounding a mural of Martin Luther King. The clean beach and city scape, is a great photo destination, as you walk up and down the concrete strip past the sand, be on the lookout for competitive chess matches.

John Hancock building

A quick walk from Oak street beach, you come upon the Hancock building, Diva Empire Travel recommends getting a drink at the 95th floor signature room for the best Arial view of the city, along the lake and seeing the Sears Tower and rest of Chicago’s high-rises. You can pay for the Observation deck for $20, but then you don’t have a drink to enjoy the view.

Chicago Mural

Two very emotional murals to two see which are 5 mins apart are the Chicago sign at 2226 N Milwaukee Ave Chicago , 60647and Robin Williams genie mural at Concord Music Hall located 2047 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Lincoln Park Zoo a 35 acre zoo in Lincoln Park founded in 1868 is one of the few free admission zoos in the US.  In this small area we have three very worth seeing locations for great photos and relaxing strolls. The zoo with its many animals including, Lions, Polar Bears, Giraffes, Rhinos, Gorillas, every animal worth seeing. A little south of the zoo is Chicago Botanical Garden Lincoln Park conservancy, built in 1890 holds the palm house, Orchid house, Fern room and a show room that changes w the seasons. Traveling North is the Nature Boardwalk with a impressive archway ( many marriage photos taken here) designed by Bertrand Goldberg, with a great sun rise, this photo through the honey comb while be one of your most gorgeous photos from your stay in Chicago. 2121 N Stockton Dr Chicago Il 60614

Cherry Avenue Bridge North Avenue Railroad Bridge, built in 1902 is spanning the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River, railroad providing access to Goose Island. The bridge is pin connected and carries a single set of tracks. With this rare design, it is the most significant of Chicago’s vast collection of historic bridges.

Cherry Avenue Bridge North Avenue Railroad Bridge

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago, the largest Starbucks in the world, and believe me Chicago needs it, how much on the go it is. It is a five floor coffee theme park. Seasonal rooftop patio, liquid nitrogen gelato, 56 foot tall cask that distributes beans, the Midwest’s first curved escalator, and ability to roast 200,000 pounds of coffee annually. 646 N Michigan Avenue Open 7 am – 11pm on Monday through Thursday 7am-12am Friday 8am-12 Sunday 8-10.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago

Rookery Staircase one of the most historical significant buildings in Chicago. It has a unique style exterior load bearing walls and interior steel frame which led to new building techniques. Completed in 1888 it is considered a masterpiece of buildings with 12 stories tall. The lobby was remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright in1905. The building was designated a Chicago landmark in 1972. Fun Fact the reason it’s called the Rookery is because of the pigeon problem the building had. 209 South LaSalle street Chicago.

Rookery Staircase

McDonalds Global Menu Restaurant, McDonald’s global headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop continues to bring new customer favorites with a menu from around the world. With favorite items from Spain, Japan, and the United Kingdom. New items include Goat Cheese burger from Spain, Matcha green tea mcFlurry from Japan and Cheese Bites from the UK. 6,000 square feet with a very modern design. Located at 1035 W Randolph St 6am-10pm seven days a week.

McDonalds Global Menu Restaurant

You Are Beautiful Signs Chicago From bathroom stalls to locker rooms, street signs, lamp posts or left on a bus seat. It began with 100 stickers in 2002 Chicago and has evolved to block long murals. The message is clear “You Are Beautiful” no matter what. Unapologetically its saying its ok to be human. These stickers travel every continent including Antarctica. There are sooooo many signs hidden among Chicago that Diva Empire Travel suggests you go to the headquarters at 3368 N Elston Ave Chicago first and create a destination map from there, for some great photos to spread this message.

You are beautiful sign!

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Chicago Flamingo!


  1. Great post DET Chicago is a GREAT city with lots to see and do AAAAA++++++ as always !!!!!

  2. I love your intro, both funny and true! An informative article and beautiful photos, as always.

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