Top 10 Things To Do in Hyde Park

By Joelle R.

Most know Hyde Park as the home of  the renowned University of Chicago but there’s quite a bit more to do than study when you’re hanging out in this southside neighborhood. In honor of summer, and COVID restrictions lessening, here are my top 10 things to do if you happen to stop by my favorite Chicago neighborhood. 

1. Enjoy ice cream at the very same Baskin Robbins where Barack & Michelle Obama’s had their first date

The Obama’s spent much of their time in Chicago living in the Hyde Park / Kenwood area — in fact  There’s even a rock to commentate their first date and kiss with a sweet quote from president Obama. 

2.  Visit the Museum of Science & Industry

Probably the most well known Hyde Park attraction, this world class museum is still worth the visit. Currently they’ve got a cool Marvel exhibit open as well as the Black creativity Juried Art Exhibition alongside their usual wonders  (a submarine from world war 2, space artifacts, etc). For non members tickets are currently approximately $22. Since it’s a bit pricey, and there’s quite a few exhibits to explore, I’d recommend dedicating an entire afternoon just to checking out the place.

3. Explore the Japanese Garden on Wooded Island in Jackson park 

If you’re already at the Museum of Science and Industry then you might want to take a stroll behind the museum in Jackson Park and head to the Japanese Garden on Wooded Island, a tiny island in the middle of the park. The garden has  great views of the water, and is a popular place to take prom photos. I recommend going in the springtime to see the cherry blossom trees in bloom.

4. Get Jerk wings at Uncle Joe’s Jerk Chicken  

Everyone knows Chicago has world renowned cuisine, and Hyde Park is no exception. These caribbean style wings are to die for. 

5. Have a bonfire with friends at  Promontory Point

The park juts out into Lake Michigan and is surrounded by 270 degree views of the lake and awesome views of  the Chicago skyline. It’s one of the only places in the city with built in fire pits, making it an absolute must visit. It’s also a great place to people-watch and is rarely— if ever— as crowded as lakefront parks on the northside. 

6. Play Pac-Man at First Aid Comics  

There’s a lot of unique stores in Hyde Park  but First Aid Comics is my favorite.  It’s an old-school comic book store with a large collection of comics, games and candy.  They also have an OG Pac-Man arcade game that is very addicting. 

7.  Tour the Frederick C. Robie House designed by  Frank Lloyd Wright 

Wright was a famous Midwest architect and designer known for establishing the prairie style home. His designs can be seen across Chicago but the Robie house is considered one of the best examples of his work. The house is open to visitors on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There’s a variety of tours to choose from and it’s best to book ahead of time due to Covid restrictions. The standard tour costs $20 a person. There’s also a cool cafe, popular with university students, in the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, right next door.   

8. Check out the Oriental Institute  

This  university museum is free to visit (although you currently have to register in advance) and has an expansive collection of artifacts from the Middle East.

9. See “Nuclear Energy”

The world’s first man-made, nuclear chain reaction— one that would be the basis for future atom bombs— occurred on the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field in 1942. Although you can’t actually view a nuclear reaction, you can check out a sculpture created to commemorate the historic event.

10. Get coffee and a macaroon at Bonjour Bakery on 55th street.

 This bakery is located in a quaint mall on 53rd street and has delicious French style sandwiches, croissants, and pastries. Plus, their coffee is really strong.