Sightseeing With Chicago Safaris
One of the best things about visiting Chicago is all of the choices! Theater, world-class dining, sports, shopping, music....I could go on and on. I've created so many amusing memories here. Hanging out in the city comes with its challenges though, most aren't particularly fond of the traffic, parking, and driving!
For those who want to experience Chicago without the unwanted extra stress, sightseeing tours are a hassle-free option. You only need to relax and take in the many sights.
Chicago Safaris is a new company offering luxury sightseeing tours of the Windy City. The owner, Seyi Arokoyo, came up with his business plan ten years ago while living in Chicago and working in an industry which allowed him to meet and host visitors in the city. Realizing that most barely scratched the surface when it came to all that the city had to offer, his goal was to expose others to the hidden gems, restaurants, and rich history that he cherished. I can appreciate his vision; there's so much to discover beyond the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier.
Based out of Northwest Indiana, Chicago Safaris affords individuals in the region the opportunity to visit one of the best cities in the world with ease and convenience. The company also offers wine tours to Michigan and transportation services to local events.
There are three levels of customizable packages; Silver, Gold, and Diamond. I was invited by Chicago Safaris to try out one of their tours along with my friends.
My crew and I decided on the Gold package. You select a sightseeing activity and a food tasting activity. We chose the movie scenes of Chicago for the sightseeing portion and a visit to Little Italy for out tasting tour! Everything from the booking to pick up was a breeze. Our group met at a central location, for our scheduled transportation.
First pre-trip drinks! Priorities!
Our guides for the day were the 2 Lisas. We liked them straight away. Two down to earth ladies ready to deal with a group of crazy adults. The bus was very comfortable with plenty of room.
The first leg of our tour focused on locations of movies filmed in Chicago. Each year the number of films produced in the city continues to increase; 2017 saw an all-time high with over 580 film and media projects.
During the drive, Lisa divided the van into rows by teams and quizzed us on our movie history knowledge. There's nothing like a van full of competitive adults, you would’ve thought we were playing for money!
Our first location drive-by was the 95th St. bridge on Chicago’s far southeast side. This drawbridge was famously jumped by Jake and Elwood in their Bluesmobile in Blues Brothers, a movie credited with putting the city of Chicago on the map as a venue for filmmaking. I can’t tell you how many times that movie played in my household growing up! It was one of my father’s favorites!
Continuing on, we got history and facts on a few additional locations before making our first stop at Skylark bar in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Skylark is a spacious dive bar with an impressive beer selection and cheap prices; it's also cash-only. This bar was the location of the Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn movie The Breakup. Its also been the filming site for several Chicago based television shows and is a local favorite.
While driving to the next spot we made a pit stop at Firehouse 51, the filming site of tv show Chicago Fire. The building is the location of real-life fire station Engine 18 on the Near West side of Chicago. As a fan of the show, it was cool to see.
Food was the focus of the second half of the tour and centered around Little Italy, home to some of the city's best Italian restaurants.
We stopped in for our first tasting at Al’s Italian Beef, a family business celebrating 80 years! The original recipe developed in Al’s home kitchen so many years ago is still in use at all Al’s Beef locations today. It was my first time trying Al’s; the beef was tender and well-seasoned…I’d return. The fries were the bomb!
Our next stop in Little Italy was at Pompei, one of Chicago’s oldest eateries, where we feasted on pizza and their famous strudel. I favored the strudel. It reminded me of a calzone but much lighter, and it was STUFFED with flavorful ingredients.
My crew and I enjoyed a full day of hilarious memories and learned a great deal! I especially liked how we combined some walking and exploring along with the driving. We'd surely roll with Chicago Safaris again. If you're searching for a sightseeing company with great customer service and attention to detail, give them a try.
*Although my sightseeing tour with Chicago Safaris was complimentary, the opinions and thoughts are my own. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a special experience in the city.