A Cultural Goldmine (With a Side Order of a Few New Friends)

I'm noticing that every time I cross something off my free things to do in Chicago itinerary, another few items make their way on to the list. Quite an exciting "problem" to face, isn't it? Last week, I was happy to have company as I moved another dollarless activity to the "completed" column. In the process, we seem to have unearthed a goldmine otherwise known as the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.).

I met up with Charlotte (yes, THAT Charlotte*) and Jade last Wednesday afternoon to do a bit of exploring and take advantage of the free tour that the Cultural Center offers three times per week. (Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays @ 1:15)

Free Concert @ Chicago Cultural Center

We arrived a little bit early and were able to catch the end of the weekly free concert as well as a healthy helping of stink eye from one of the concert's "quiet patrol".

Grand Army of the Republic Dome @ Chicago Cultural Center\
Healy & Millet Dome

Once the performance ended, we made our way back downstairs to join the tour. It was an afternoon full of oohing and ahhing at the building and its history (and pretty consistent giggling at our unintentionally funny tour guide). Lest you get the wrong idea, she was definitely informative. But she also might have said things like, "I couldn't care less."

The Bridge to Nowhere - Chicago Cultural Center
The Bridge to Nowhere
She undoubtedly (and probably unwittingly) gave the tour a comic element that we all enjoyed.

Tiffany Dome @ Chicago Cultural Center
Louis Comfort Tiffany Dome

Nicknamed the People's Palace, in 1991 the old Chicago Public Library building and a Civil War Memorial were united to create the Cultural Center. Over the past 20 years it has played host to numerous free public events (art exhibits, concerts, film screenings) and is one of the most visited attractions in Chicago.

Mother-of-Pearl and Glass Detail work @ Chicago Cultural Center

The building's two stunning domes, intricate mosaics, and vast array of iron and marble work make it a feast for the eye and a photographer's dream.

Tiffany Dome @ Chicago Cultural Center

I would definitely recommend this free activity if you're in Chicago and interested in learning a little bit about this breathtaking structure. The hour long tour was a nice length and provided the perfect introduction to an attraction I most certainly plan to continue visiting. A never ending buffet of free cultural events? That sounds awfully fantastic to me! For more information on the building's history or a list of upcoming events visit the Chicago Cultural Center's website

Are you a fan of guided tours or would you prefer to explore on your own?

* I would like to state for the record that after several years of an "online" friendship with Charlotte, Wednesday's official meet up was just as delightful as I hoped it would be. Charlotte is as funny and smart and engaging and lovely as I imagined her to be. I'm looking forward to lots more visits now that we're practically neighbors! Plus, I got to meet another new friend, Jade, in the process. Raise your hand if you're feeling incredibly fortunate. (I have both hands raised right now.)