SHRM 2024: What You Can Miss in Chicago

By Staff Report

May. 30, 2024

With the SHRM Annual Conference almost upon us, HR professionals everywhere are filling up their itineraries for their visit to the Windy City. But if you aren’t a local, how are you supposed to know what is worth your time and what is truly a waste?

Tourist traps are expected in every large city. As locals, we here at feel like it is our duty to ensure you DON’T spend your time and money at some of these admittedly alluring locations.

Check out this list of tourist traps to skip while in town:

1. The WNDR Museum

The WNDR Museum in Chicago is often considered a tourist trap, as it focuses more on providing Instagrammable moments than meaningful art experiences for middle and high schoolers. Given the limited depth and originality of the installations, the hefty admission fee is hard to justify, making it a disappointing visit for those expecting a genuine museum experience.

2. 360 Chicago Tilt

The 360 Tilt in Chicago is frequented by out-of-towners but offers a brief, overpriced experience with minimal payoff. Located at the top of the John Hancock Center, the attraction tilts visitors outward for a few seconds to provide a unique but fleeting view of the city. Many find the $20+ ticket price does not match the short duration and long lines, especially when compared to the free or more reasonably priced observation points in the city that offer equally stunning views without the gimmick. 

3. Museum of Ice Cream

Another Instagram trap with a ticket price of $50+ per person. The steep ticket prices gain visitors access to a series of brightly colored, themed rooms that are more about photo opportunities than immersive or informative experiences. The limited sampling of actual ice cream is underwhelming compared to the cost. Go to Jeni’s Ice Cream for ice cream that’s actually worthwhile.

4. Giordano’s Pizza

Giordano’s Pizza in Chicago is often seen as a tourist trap because it capitalizes on its reputation without delivering the authentic deep-dish experience that we locals prefer. While heavily marketed to those coming from out of town, its pizza tends to be overly doughy and lacking in a flavorful sauce and the ideal crust that defines authentic Chicago-style pizza. You can get Giordano’s in the frozen foods section of almost any grocery store in the nation. Instead, I would strongly recommend Pequod’s or Lou Malnatis.

4. The Starbucks Reserve on Michigan Ave

As they have a great espresso martini, the Starbucks Reserve’s crowds aren’t worth their prices. While the building is an elaborate, multi-story setup with unique menu items and brewing methods, the experience is usually accompanied by long lines and a busy atmosphere. Many find the prices hard to justify, especially when the quality of the coffee isn’t significantly better than what is available at standard Starbucks locations. I’d check out a local coffee roaster rather than your run-of-the-mill Venti coffee from Starbucks.

5. Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Navy Pier should be walked through for its historical significance to the city, but no need to partake in any of its tourist attractions, such as the Ferris Wheel. Despite its iconic status, the ride provides a short and relatively unremarkable view of the city, which many visitors find disappointing given the high ticket cost. The surrounding area is typically crowded and heavily commercialized, detracting from the overall enjoyment.

6. The Bean

I hate to break it to you, but our beloved bean is under construction until mid-August. Regardless, the site is typically swamped with tourists, making it difficult to appreciate or capture it without crowds fully. Compared to the many culturally and historically rich attractions in Chicago, the Bean tends to be a superficial stop that doesn’t offer much beyond a photo opportunity, making it feel a bit overrated. I still highly recommend strolling through Millenium Park but be warned that you might not get the view of the Bean that you’re hoping for.

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