I always encourage travelers to get off the tourist route and explore the location they’re in. There’s something about diving into an unfamiliar place that can make even the mundane details interesting. I do, however, caution tourists when looking for too authentic of an experience; especially when they get caught up with some locals. Here are my best tips on what tourists should avoid when traveling to Chicago, Illinois:
7 Things I Would Not Do in Chicago, Illinois
Don’t forget to check the forecast daily.
The weather in Chicago is unpredictable! If you aren’t frequently checking the forecast, you may be out of the loop on what’s going to happen that day weather-wise. Even as a local I find myself checking the forecast and confirming visually with anyone who walks in front of my apartment window, to make sure I’m properly dressed for the weather. I always recommend wearing layers because then you can have more control over what the temperature is without having to ruin an outfit.
I wouldn’t recommend being oblivious to your surroundings anywhere in the city of Chicago. Always keep your head on a swivel and make sure that no one isn’t paying more attention to you than they should be; this includes cafes, the bus, the train and transitional spaces. Ignoring your surroundings will allow you to have a good advantage observing your environment leaving if you need to.
If you aren’t from a place with alleys, you may be unfamiliar with the streets behind some of Chicago’s homes; Chicago’s alleys have garages, garbages, and access to light poles for the neighborhood – super exciting. Alleys are not a place for tourists to hang out; unless you’re from the area, it’s a bit suspicious for you to be behind a residential building without any reason to be. Keep in mind that areas with murals will understandably have full access, but if there isn’t a reason to be there, don’t be.
Not only would I recommend you avoid having visible items from the outside of your vehicle, I wouldn’t recommend leaving anything of value inside of your vehicle after you walk away. Chicago has ‘smash and grab’ crime; smash and grab crimes consist of breaking windows and quickly taking anything of value inside.
A popular scam in tourist locations (and Chicago is no different) is when someone gifts you an item you didn’t ask for, then demands that you pay for the item; their demands for your payment invite others to gather and this tactic is used to intimidate you into giving the scammer money. The item may be something small like a bracelet, charm or flowers. This forced transaction is not okay and I would avoid ‘gifts’ from anyone you don’t know to avoid this interaction.