Illinois has long been known as the "Land of Lincoln," but with the new president in town, making a journey to Chicago can take on new meaning. When Barack Obama was elected November 4, 2008, he was serving as the junior Senator from Illinois.
With the crush of new interest in all things Obama, getting a peak at his Hyde Park home in Chicago will be nearly impossible. Police have blocked the immediate area off, prohibiting tourists from getting close to his personal residence. However, there are lots of great things to see and do both in this University of Chicago neighborhood, as well as in other parts of the city.
Where does the Obama family like to hang out in Hyde Park? Medici Restaurant on 57th Street is one place, and for tourists who want to prove it, they can buy "Obama Eats Here" t-shirts for souvenirs. Another great stop in the neighborhood is 57th Street Books, a shop frequented by the Obama family. Clerks at the store can point to some of Obama’s favorite books. "The variety of titles, the programs for kids and the neighborhood feel make it a wonderful place to take a walk to and browse around," Michelle Obama noted in the Chicago Sun-Times. What’s the president-elect been reading lately? According to Obama at a recent press conference, the writings of President Abraham Lincoln.
The South Side that the Obamas call home is the location of a number of great attractions for tourists of all ages. There is the Museum Campus, which includes the Museum of Science & Industry, the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, and Shedd Aquarium. Located at the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught Constitutional Law, is the famed Oriental Museum, which has rare treasures from Egypt.
While Obama is known to play hoops at the outdoor courts on Hayes Drive and South Lake Shore Drive, the neighborhood is also famous for US Cellular Field, home to the Chicago White Sox, the favorite baseball team of Obama.
Other Chicago Hot Spots
With so many great restaurants in the city (some say rivaling New York for great choices), the Obamas have a couple of spots they like to frequent beyond their own neighborhood. These include RJ Grunts in Lincoln Park for more casual dining and Macarthur’s, a great soul food restaurant with a family feel. Michelle Obama likes the new American cuisine at Sepia, which is housed in a print shop dating from the 1800s, and for a romantic night out, the Obamas are said to favor Chef Rick Bayless’s restaurant, Topolobampo, which is world famous for its Mexican cuisine.
Downtown Chicago is the site of many great activities for tourists, whether it’s the Art Institute, the Magnificent Mile for shopping, or Sears Tower for a great overview of the city. While in the Loop, don’t miss Grant Park, the location made famous by Obama’s speech on election night. During the warmer months, Grant Park plays host to a number of outdoor activities, including Jazz Fest, Blues Fest, Taste of Chicago, and movies under the stars. With a new band shell designed by architect Frank Gehry, tourists can’t miss it.
Chicago has long been a great place to vacation. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the third largest city in the US still offers great dining, shopping, and world class museums, a lively music scene, and miles of parks and zoos. Whether or not tourists come to share in the places and events that make the city great for the First Family, they are certain to find plenty to enjoy in the "Land of Obama."