Chicago is rich in social opportunities, art, culture, music, food and just about anything else you could want. Your semester in the city is sure to be a semester that you will never forget! With so many opportunities, and things to do, however, you may wonder, Where do I start? How can I possibly fit everything in? How can I make sure that I don’t miss out on anything?

We are here to help! We have compiled a list of resources, apps, and ideas so you can start planning your semester, today.

Weekly Art Events

Being a part of Chicago Semester means that you will have a weekly opportunity to take part in an artistic offering in the city, completely free! Whether it’s taking in a ballet at the Joffrey, a magical music performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or a heart-racing dramatic performance at one of Chicago’s many storefront theatres, you will have opportunities to engage in the arts like you never have before.

Apps and websites

There are lots of resources to help you plan out the perfect day or weekend in Chicago. We have compiled a few to help get you started.


Choose Chicago: The great thing about this app is that it distinguishes by neighborhood. Find events happening in particular locations all around the city. From restaurants, theatres, museums and much more, you’ll be able to plan out the perfect neighborhood adventure.

My Chi Parks: Did you know there are roughly 580 different parks in the city? The best part is that there are events taking place at these parks all year! With that many parks, it can be hard to keep all the happenings straight. This app makes it easy by allowing you to search by date, park or the type of event you are looking for.

Art Institute of Chicago Tours: Chicago Semester is located just blocks away from the Art Institute of Chicago. Take the time to check out of the world’s greatest museums after class, or on a Saturday afternoon. This app provides 50 personalized tours to help you navigate this awesome Chicago favorite.

Chicago Festival Finder: Although this app is the most useful in the summer months, when festivals are constantly happening all around the city, there are plenty of festivals that take place in the summer and spring. This app will help you find the ones fit your interests!

Staff Picks

The Chicago Semester staff also have their own favorite spots in the city! Take a look at each staff member’s favorite places/things to do in Chicago to add to your own Chicago bucket list!

Skyler’s Pick: Coordinator of Recruitment, Marketing and College Relations, Skyler Adams is a lover of all things music and theatre. He recommends you take in an original production at The House Theatre in Wicker Park. His favorite music venue is the House of Blues in River North.

Mackenzi’s Pick: Executive Director, Mackenzi Huyser, loves the outdoors, so she has a few different activities that will get you out in the sunshine while you’re in the city. She recommends walking the lake front path and the 606 trail (located in the Logan Square neighborhood). She also enjoys spending an evening at one of Chicago’s great parks for movies or a concert, and going to Northerly Island for awesome views of the skyline and lake.

Lisa’s Pick: Student Teaching Program Director, Lisa Hensey, has a couple great spots to enjoy three of the best parts of Chicago: music, theatre and food! She recommends checking out Buddy Guy’s Legends, located in the loop. They have free acoustic dinner music every night, free lunch music on weekends, and the jazz patio is free from 5 – 8 pm on Sundays. She also loves catching an improve show at the iO Theatre in Lincoln park.

Erik’s Pick: Professor of the Arts & the City course, Erik Nussbum Suggests students attend church services from different traditions. Erik is a member, and is employed at Chicago Temple. He, like the entire staff, also has a favorite food spot: Exchequer, in the loop. Though it was named “Best Pizza in Town” by CBS Chicago, there is much debate about the best pizza in Chicago.

Kendra’s Pick: Associate Director of Internships, Kendra Wright, also loves to enjoy the many great free things to do outside in Chicago, like the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park series. She also loves to hunt for the best coffee and donuts in Chicago (she promises you can’t go wrong with the Dark Matter Coffee and Do-Rite Donuts at Star Lounge Café)!

Nancy’s Pick: Social Work Program Director, Nancy Fox, has made Chicago her home for many years, but still hasn’t been desensitized to the amazing architecture found in the city.  She is a big fan of the Chicago Architecture Foundation . In her words it has, “Fabulous walking and boat tours, Open House Chicago in the fall, and a terrific gift shop!”

Michelle’s Pick: Nursing Program Director, Michelle McClure enjoys summers in the city the most! She especially loves weekend neighborhood festivals that get her outdoors and into different neighborhoods in the city. She also loves to check out the different farmers markets around the city.

Silvia’s Pick: Operations Manager & Registrar, Silvia Navarro, never shies away from a little friendly competition, which is why you can often find her putting her skills to the test at WhirlyBall located in Bucktown. Don’t know what WhirlyBall is? Imgaine a combination of lacrosse, hockey and basketball with bumper cars. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a world class athlete like Silvia, to play, as their website says, “Agility. Speed. Strength. None of these qualities will be of any use in the highly-competitive world of WhirlyBall.”