Feature photo by yodudedan

Summer is upon us, and if you are a Chicagoan who has the privilege of working, visiting, or shopping downtown, then you are painfully aware of the hordes of tourists clogging our world-renown thoroughfares. Yes, they are merely appreciating the splendor of our great city, but goddamnit, get out of the way while the rest of us are trying to go on with our lives! I have often fantasized about just pushing my way though the crowds and asserting my home-field advantage, but for the sake of prudence, I exercise my Midwestern values. Unlike most Chicagoans, I have a years of experience dealing with the gaggles of lolly-gagging tourists on a daily basis, from going to high school across the street from the Water Tower and going to college on State Street and working in the Loop. I am aware that not everyone is as patient as me, so the following is a list of tips that will get you though your next visit to El Centro.

If you are planning to meet friend for lunch avoid the main strips (e.g. Michigan Avenue and State Street) and try to find a small local place instead of the regular chains that one would frequent otherwise. Try Rush Street or Ontario if you absolutely need to be downtown.

Instead of shopping on the main drags, open your horizons and check out the boutiques of Milwaukee Avenue, Armitage Avenue, or 26th Street if you are feeling particularly adventurous.

Patience is key. Although tourists are obnoxious, they are merely admiring your glorious city leave them be. Count to ten and gaze up at that beautiful skyline, it’s only a couple of months and you will have your city back in due time.

If you are going to the beach avoid North Avenue, Oak Street, or other popular beaches. Try mini-roadtripping south to the South Shore Country Club, Calumet, or Rainbow beaches.

Practice good karma and offer your expert assistance if you see a lost tourist. You may even make a friend, don’t be such a xenophobe. If you are feeling particularly cheeky, send them the wrong way score one for the bad guys!

Take advantage of the tourist influx! Do you have a knack for a musical instrument? Have you cleared a dance floor more than once with your awesome worm? Hell, paint yourself silver, stand still, and pose for some pictures. You may even make a buck.

Finally, if all else fails, speak loudly and vulgarly you will see the crowd of street-clogging tourists part like the Red Sea.

If you follow these helpful tips, you’ll get through your summer relatively unscathed and homicide free.


Avoid the red! This is a map of the tourist hot zones in Chicago. Blue pictures are by locals. Red pictures are by tourists. Yellow pictures might be by either. Base map © OpenStreetMap, CC-BY-SA

Share this! (You know you want to.)

Got something to say? Say it loud!