Faculty Stories

Beyond the Bean: faculty share favorite summer activities

Wrap up your summer in Chicago with theater, beaches, food and more

If you’re a UChicago student, there’s no better time than summer to explore everything America’s third-largest city has to offer. Campus is just a short bus, L or Metra ride away from a variety of activities in Chicago, from parks to street festivals and everything in between.

With more than a month and a half left before the academic year begins, there is still plenty of time to plan your next trip. Not sure where to start? We asked the UChicago Summer Session faculty and lecturers to share their personal recommendations for what to do in the Windy City. Here’s what they said:

Visit Chicago’s Museums

“Check out art galleries, theaters, museums, and movie theaters for human rights-related shows, plays, exhibits or films.” -- Susan Gzesh, executive director, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights

Some places to start:

“Visit ‘You! The Experience’ exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry, which covers the human body, mind & spirit --  from prenatal development to maintaining physical and mental health into old age.” -- Kate O’Doherty, lecturer in psychology

“See the U-505 Submarine exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.” -- Paul Poast, associate professor of political science

Sample Chicago’s Theater Scene

“For those new to Chicago theater this summer, I would most definitely recommend starting with theater companies that have combined building the audience as a community with a sense of staging in architecture. Steppenwolf Theater and Second City are classics in this regard and have recently expanded their buildings to encourage the audience to be there for more than the production. On the hipper side, The Den Theatre is home to many up-and-coming Chicago companies and is equally hospitable as a place to just hang out.” -- Heidi Coleman, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies, theater and performance studies

Learn More About Other Cultures

Katagiri suggests visiting the following places to learn more about Japanese culture: 

  • The Midwest Buddhist Temple, which puts together festivals and meditation classes throughout the year;
  • The Japanese Culture Center, which regularly holds classes and one-day workshops on all aspects of Japanese culture; 
  • Wrightwood 659, an art museum designed by an award-winning Japanese architect. 

Other language faculty recommend:

Things You Can Do For Free

“One of my favorite things to do in the summer is bike up the lakefront and watch the magnificent Chicago skyline emerge at dusk around 12th Street near Monroe Harbor. The architectural beauty of the central city as seen from the lake is absolutely stunning, and it never fails to astonish and impress me.”-- John W. Boyer, dean of the College

Bonus: “Bike up the lakefront bike path to watch fireworks from the embankment at the Planetarium.” -- Helma Dik, associate professor of classics, and the College

“Chicago is a city that is full of beautiful parks. One great activity is to visit them with a book, like [Gary] Becker's ‘The Economics of Life,’  and spend time sitting under a gorgeous tree and thinking about the important ideas that he discusses. Lincoln Park is an especially nice destination because it has a beautiful botanic garden and, of course, the zoo!” -- Victor Lima, senior lecturer in economics

“All the free outdoor music: the Grant Park Symphony, jazz at Millennium Park and many other downtown and neighborhood festivals.” -- Susan Gzesh, executive director, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights

“Sunday evenings at 5 p.m. with a picnic on the lawn listening to the carillon.” -- Leila Brammer, director, Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse

“If students want more opportunities to read and discuss philosophy with others, they can try the Chicago Philosophy Meetup.” -- Zack Loveless, lecturer in philosophy

Additional free recommendations include:

A Day in Hyde Park by Leila Brammer, director of the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse

  1. Start at the DuSable Museum: explore the history and the exhibits;
  2. Walk down the Midway: imagine the 1893 Exposition and take in what is left mostly in landscape and statues;
  3. Visit the Museum of Science & Industry;
  4. Head a bit west and south: visit the Garden of the Phoenix with its peacefulness and perspective;
  5. Promontory Point and 57th Street Beach: walk them both and cool off in the lake.