Chicago is full of history - some of it good, some of it evil, and some of it just straight up uncanny. Over the years this city has been inhabited by some of America's most notorious humans including mobsters, serial killers, and movie stars, to name only a short few. Why am I telling you this? Well, because thanks to the exotic history, Chicago has become a hotspot for places that you would never believe exist. But don't just take my word for it, check out this unbelievable list below - then go actually check these places out.
Foster Ave Beach
Where: Foster Ave
Chicago may not be known as a beach town, but with the blue-green water, choppy waves, and miles of sand at Foster Ave. Beach, you'd never know you were enjoying the coastline of a fresh-watered Great Lake.
Where: 2021 N Burling St
If you click your heels twice it'll take you to Oz Park. Ok, maybe that only works if you have the magic slippers, but you can still certainly walk along the yellow brick road and find your childhood staring back at you. Oz Park features statues erected in memory of author L. Frank Baum, who used to live in the area in the 1890s, of the most beloved characters in the movie - Dorothy, complete with red slippers and her little dog too, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow.
Willis Tower Glass Platform
Where: 233 S. Wacker Dr.
You've seen it on Facebook - the Willis Tower Glass Platform is a terrifyingly thrilling way to view the world 1,353 ft below you. The Ledge, as it's appropriately named, is a glass balcony extending 4 ft outside (yes, outside) the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. I feel dizzy just thinking about it.
Where: 77 West Washington Street
Sat majestically atop a skyscraper, the Chicago Temple is officially the world's tallest church. It's not every day that you see a church ON a building, making this temple an absolute city gem.
Couch Place (The Alley of Death)
Where: 24 West Randolph St
While it may not look abnormal, Couch Place, also known as "The Alley of Death," got the nickname after the devastating Iroquois Theater fire in 1903. The theater, which was often touted for being fireproof, was mid-performance of a sold-out show when one of the backdrops caught fire. Because of the panic and poor exit door design, many of the attendees in the building perished because of the fire (estimated about 600). The bodies were piled into the alleyway before they were properly taken care of, hence the name. Does this remind you of any other "unsinkable" tragedy?
Where: 1723 N Halsted St
You've tried several exotic dishes over the course of your life, but you've never had a delicately served molecular gastronomy dish like those at Aliena Resturant. Molecular what? In simple terms, molecular gastronomy is the practice of deconstructing food we are accustomed to into constituent taste, texture, and shape, making the outcome an interestingly reworked cuisine. Edible balloon anyone?
Where: 2900 S Damen Ave
If you enjoy a bit of urban exploration, Damen Silos would be an impressive location to add to your list. Since the explosion in 1977 rendering the factory useless, it was left abandoned and unsealed - making it a hotspot for urban explorers and graffiti artists.
Shipwreck of the Silver Spray
Where: E 49th Street
The 1914 wreck of Silver Spray in Lake Michigan remains a slowly-rusting tourist attraction. A small portion of the wrecked steamboat still remains visible from the shore, but if you really want to get a good look at it then a scuba dive adventure is in order. Check out the original photo of the wreck below, and then ask yourself "how?"
Englewood Post Office
Where: 611 W 63rd St
Looks like a normal post office, right? Well, it is, kind of. It's not the post office that's exciting, it's the location. It sits on the very plot of land that "America's First Serial Killer," H. H. Holmes' (also thought to be a Jack the Ripper suspect, see American Ripper) Murder Castle once sat. And yes, it's reportedly haunted. Kind of a weird spot for a post office, don't you think?
Where: 1400 W 46th St
Formerly a meatpacking plant, the owners of Plant Chicago purchased the building and established a go-green organization in 2011. Since then, they have been working hard to transform the complex into a sustainable, organic and efficient food production plant. Tours and food are offered at the location, and it's definitely the type of place you can feel good about spending your money at.
Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.
Where: 1276 N Milwaukee Ave
Need to brush up on your spying skills? No worries, that's exactly what Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. is here for. From how-to books to secret disguises, this adorable little shop will surely track down a place in your heart.
Green Mill Jazz Club
Where: 4802 N. Broadway
The Green Mill Jazz Club has been jazzin' the ears of many throughout the years, including Al Capone and Charlie Chaplin. The club is still very much alive and enjoyed by those with a refined taste in music.
Leather Archives & Museum
Where: 6418 N Greenview Ave.
There are several strange museums in the city, but this one may just top the hypothetical cake. The Leather Archives & Museum is a spot dedicated to the compilation, preservation, and maintenance of leather, kink, and fetish lifestyles. Kinky.
Where: 1001 North Wolcott Avenue
We sh*t you not, this list would be absolutely incomplete without including the location of one of Chicago's weirdest sculptures, Shit Fountain. You're probably wondering why this profound fountain is in existence; it was erected by a Chicago artist as a permanent reminder for pet parents to pick up after their animals because clearly, it's unsightly. Needless to say, it's an artwork that gets loads of attention.
American Science and Surplus
Where: 5316 N Milwaukee Ave
All of your science-experiment dreams can come true at American Science and Surplus. Need a lab distillation kit? No problem. Bunsen burner? Got it. Plastic legs? Absolutely. Wait, what? Oh, that must be the surplus part.
Bohemian National Cemetery
Where: 5255 N. Pulaski Road
This cemetery has the perfect balance of elegance and eeriness. A beautiful castle-like structure marks the entrance, while on the inside you will find a plethora of interesting and mysterious decor.
Where: Two locations, N. Astor St and N. State St, E. Burton Pl and E. North Blvd
Not many wooden block streets remain in America, making these two alleyways a true must-see novelty. Check out the official signpost below for more information.
Busy Beaver Button Co.
Where: 3407 W Armitage Ave
The world's only known button museum is located right here in Chicago. As you can imagine, there are lots of rare, one-of-a-kind buttons here - some even for sale!
Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation Synagogue
Where: 5029 N. Kenmore Ave
Another great spot for abandoned-building explorers, Chicago's Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation synagogue offers an unusual adventure sure to send shivers down your spine. The good news is you don't have to trespass because tours are available. Hard to believe a building with such architecture from over a century ago was just left abandoned.
Thorne Miniature Rooms
Where: Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago
An exhibit in the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago is full of tiny rooms scaled to the painstaking measurements of 1 inch = 1 foot, and if you think that's impressive, the first one was put together in 1936! All rooms were the work of Narcissa Nidblack Thorne, a woman notorious for her love of dollhouses and miniatures.
Great Train Story Diorama
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Drive
While we are on the topic of miniatures, let's talk about the impressive $3.5 million dollars Great Train Story Diorama exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This diorama, appropriately named "The Great Train Story," is stretched between a 3,500 square foot table, taking visitors on a complete journey from Chicago to the Port of Seattle.
Where: South Michigan Ave
Have you ever wanted to be spat on by a fountain? Now you can. The creators of Crown Fountain have a wicked sense of humor, using photos of people with their lips pursed as the fountain spout. I feel kind of uncomfortable.
Chicago Freight Tunnels
Where: Kinzie Street and Canal Street
Many people don't know about the vast network of tunnels connecting to dozens of buildings directly under their feet. The tunnels were used between the years of 1904-1959 to transport ash and coal from one location to another.