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Another fun idea to seeing Chicago : Foursquare treasure hunting in the Windy City

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of the Windy City … I mean how could anyone not love the city with some of the following:

  • Deep Dish Pizza
  • Chicago Style Dogs – don’t you dare eat one with Ketchup
  • Great Blues music
  • Great Bars
  • Tons of sports to watch … Bulls, Bears, and some form of Sox
  • Heaps of movies being filmed or were filmed in Chi-Town

That being said … one can face certain paralysis, when figuring out what to do in Chicago. One approach would be to print out a bunch of lists from the Internet that aren’t interactive or you use the  app on your iPhone and use one of the interactive lists to make your own treasure hunt, get a badge for your efforts and have tons of “Geolocation” fun.

Fourquare Tip

There are three city badges: the hot dog-centric “Celery Salt,” ; the musical “Chicago Blues”; the cinematic “On Location.” In all, you can aim to get 6 or 7 badges in Chicago rather easily… in the end, I only ended up missing the “Triple Play” badge because for some reason,  will not recognize that I’ve checked into 4 MLB stadiums.

1. First on the docket, was unlocking the Chicago Blues badge. This is pretty easy as many of the places on the list are within 10 streets of each other.Chicago Blues Badge

We ended up checking into 6 places on the list before I got my badge.

  1. B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted St.
  2. Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted St.
  3. Blues Brothers Mural, NE Corner of 47th St.& Prairie Ave.
  4. Chicago Blues District, 708 E. 47th St.
  5. Rosa’s Lounge 3420 W Armitage Ave
  6. Chess Records (Historic Site) 49th St and Cottage Grove

I will give one word of warning – while it is great for a badge … the Historic Blues district in Chicago isn’t the safest place around. I’m not a detective or anything like that, but when you’re driving around and see you crack deals on the street, tons of homeless people, abandoned buildings and you feel like you’re in  Buffalo, Detroit, Baltimore or East side St. Louis – then I wouldn’t hang around the area for long. Get your badge touring all the blues bars around.

2.  After listening to the music, it was time to find some Chicago Style Hot Dogs. I’ve tried over the years to avoid hot dogs for all the crap they put into them – however for Chicago – I’ll make an exception. Unlocking this badge takes some work, since the hot dog places on the list are all over the city.Celery Salt Badge

We ended up checking into another 6 places on the list before I got my badge.

    1. Gold Coast Dogs (Multiple Locations)
    2. Jim’s Original (Maxwell Street Polish), 1250 S. Union Ave.
    3. The Weiner’s Circle, 2622 N. Clark St.
    4. United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.
    5. Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St.
    6. US Cellular Field, 333 W. 35th St.

It is cool that the City of Chicago’s Office of Tourism thought about this partnership – since it does push people to wander around the city and creates a sense of competition. Additionally, you get to see people complete cover your dogs in Celery salt, peppers and tomatoes.

The best Hot Dog place we went to, had to be “The Wiener’s Circle”. What an awesome name!! This is a small hole in the wall place — but they definitely serve a good dog.

3 . The third and final Explore Chicago badge for the weekend was the “On Location” badge. If you ever seen a movie that was filmed in Chicago … this is an attempt to publicize those venues. The badge can be earned by checking into any 5 locations through the 7 different lists.

On Location badge

Just based on two movies which I really like : Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (CLASSIC!!!) and The Dark Knight, we checked into 13 places … I had more fun finding these places than just checking in.

My Ferris Bueller list was complete …

  1. The Skydeck at Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr.
  2. The Art Institute of Chicago – 111 S. Michigan Ave.
  3. Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St.
  4. Chicago Board of Trade, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.
  5. Calder’s Flamingo sculpture – 50 W. Adams St. at S. Dearborn St.

My Dark Knight list wasn’t complete – but it was good enough

  1. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.
  2. Lower Wacker Dr. at Lower Michigan Ave.
  3. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.
  4. The Skydeck at Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr.
  5. Trump International Hotel and Tower, 401 N. Wabash Ave.
  6. 330 N. Wabash (formerly the IBM Building), 330 N. Wabash Ave.

During the other time in Chicago – I also ended up with 5 other badges … now these are not specific to Chicago, but are a compendium of checking into a number of other places in the US.

all my badges

Truly Exploring Chicago

I typically have many trips to Chicago for fun or for training, since many consulting clients have offices there. On typical trips, the routine is the same

  • Fly in
  • Work all day till 9pm
  • Grab dinner at a restaurant near the hotel
  • Retire to our rooms to work some more

The badges will give any tech savvy consultant an incentive to explore the city. In getting Blues badge – we visited parts of town that I would never have visited for any other reason. We spent money in more restaurants and bars than we normally would while we were out exploring.

Personally, I think all large North American cities would benefit from this type of list and integration with  – It’s was a win for the city of Chicago and their tourism arm, Explore Chicago, since we got out the hotel room and spent money all over town. And it was a win for us, since we unlocked 11 pieces of digital candy and had a lot of fun in the process.

It turns out that the Explore Chicago badges were fairly easy to unlock. Their printable location lists were easy to follow, so we picked some spots near our hotel and were able to unlock them without trouble. The Time Out badge, however, was impossible to unlock, despite visiting at least five locations they’d recommended.  So I have a challenge for the next time I’m in Chicago … I have a hit list of three other badges.

  • Windy City Badge
  • Eater 38 Badge
  • Time Out Chicago – BarHunter badge

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at [email protected]

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