Winter? Please. Right now, it seems a thousand years away. Hyde Park in summer is about as sweet as neighborhoods in Chicago get. During the day, there’s plenty to keep you busy, and at night either check out one of the few local restaurants and hangouts, or hop the Metra or #6 Bus up north (it will get a bit harder to justify escaping for the evening as work heats up and the temperatures plummet this fall).
Here are some basics to keep you busy in Hyde Park as you rest up before the year starts. And set a bookmark for Hyde Park Progress to get info on cool festivals and events in HP that you won’t have time to attend.
1) Promontory Point: The 57th Street Beach can get a little crowded, so head over to the north side of “The Point” to check out MAPH Beach–unofficial meeting place of the unofficial “MAPH Swimming, Diving, and Sunbathing Team” (Season: May-June, tryouts in December). New Yorkers, get ready for a shock: you can swim in the water in Chicago. The Lake will be at its warmest between mid-August and mid-September, so jump in before Core starts.
2) Cafe Valois: Chicago is a breakfast town, and Hyde Park has its very own breakfast gem in “Val-OYS” (Francophones beware, say Val-WAH and you’re likely to get some angry looks as you eat your delicious pancakes). Keep the line moving: Valois is an old-school cafeteria-style restaurant. A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with coffee will set you back no more than $4.00. Bypass surgery charge covered by your University of Chicago Student Health Plan.
3) The DuSable Museum of African American History and the Museum of Science and Industry: Very simply, the DuSable and MSI are two of Chicago’s best museums. The DuSable has an exhibit on the Black Panther Party running until August 6. The Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the Women’s Pavilion from the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, is a five-year old boy’s dream. Planes, trains, and automobiles are everywhere, as are artifacts from war, space exploration, and large explosions.
4) The Smart Museum and Oriental Institute, two of the best museums that the University of Chicago has to offer. The Smart features fantastic temporary exhibits to complement a permanent collection that spans 5000 years. The OI, founded almost 100 years ago, features Chicago’s collection of Near-Eastern art.
5) The Sem Co-Op: The greatest bookstore in the universe. Everything from Dr. Seuss to Hardt and Negri. So go ahead. Buy that Gary Shteyngart novel. Wrap it inside your worn copy of Discipline and Punish if you have to. But come on, let’s be serious. It’s still summer for another six seven weeks. Chill out.