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Downtown Chicago is a beautiful thing, but the city beyond offers more than picturesque skylines. With 200 neighborhoods to explore, the possibilities are endless. Here are five ways to escape the hustle and bustle without ever leaving the city!

by Kara Norvet, Marketing Intern

1. Hit the Road

Take a break from the Loop and explore five of Chicago’s historic neighborhoods aboard an open-top bus. Kick back, relax and get an intriguing look at the art, architecture and history of Greektown, Little Italy, Pilsen, Chinatown and Bronzeville. You don’t want to miss out on this chance to discover Chicago’s mosaic of fascinating neighborhoods.

2. Let Your Hair Down at a Festival

Chicago has more than 400 neighborhood festivals each year. You can rock out to oldies (but goodies) at the new Gladstone Park Throwback Music Fest, keep it local at the City Made Fest in Andersonville or eat until your heart’s content at Lakeview’s wildly popular Taco Fest. For more daring folks, Polar Palooza in Rogers Park celebrates the holidays in freezing temperatures with live music, food and entertainment.

3. Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane

Lace up your sneakers and explore Chicago’s 200 neighborhoods through CAC’s vast selection of walking tours. Discover outstanding Victorian mansions in Wicker Park, preserved sections of Chicago’s Boulevard system in Logan Square and the grounds of the 1893 World’s Fair in Hyde Park.

4. Thrill Your Taste Buds

Chicago may be famous for deep-dish pizza, but there’s no shortage of other incredible foods to try in the neighborhoods. Get in touch with your Swedish roots in Andersonville, find delicious tacos in Little Village and savor both cheap eats and Michelin-starred cuisine in Lincoln Park. Whether you’re craving pasta, sushi or a good old-fashioned American cheeseburger, Chicago’s neighborhood restaurants will not disappoint.

5. Explore Neighborhood Parks

In addition to Millennium Park and Grant Park, Chicago’s many neighborhoods offer lush green spaces, charming trails and scenic waterfront access. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along The 606, an abandoned railway track that was transformed into a pleasant, 2.7-mile path. Or enjoy gorgeous vantage points of the city skyline from Arrigo Park in University Village. Feeling a little more adventurous? Kayak the Chicago River at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. For leisure or for adventure, the neighborhood parks are a perfect escape from the concrete jungle of downtown Chicago.