Chicago Introduces New Travel Apps to Experience City With Urban Excursions Website Games On Mobile Phone

11 free SCVNGR treks and Foursquare badges offer itineraries for exploring everything from movie locations to tacquerias

by Karen Rubin

This summer, it is easier than ever to discover Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and experience the city in a new way with Urban Excursions: Explore Chicago, the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture’s Summer initiative showcasing hundreds of treks, tours and other urban adventures downtown and throughout the neighborhoods. The Urban Excursions: Explore Chicago website,, offers numerous ways to plan the perfect roadmap for exploring the city including daily blog postings about recommended treks and a variety of free events throughout the city.

Eleven free SCVNGR treks and Foursquare badges offer a variety of suggested itineraries for exploring everything from Chicago movie locations and blues clubs to authentic tacquerias and ice cream shops where you check-in and complete interactive challenges on your mobile phone.

There’s a new interactive way to experience Chicago with Urban Excursions website and games on your mobile phone © 2011 Eric Leiberman/

In June alone, over one million people have in search of popular and must-see attractions, new destinations, and hidden neighborhood gems.


This summer, the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture has launched four new SCVNGR treks in Wicker Park, Chinatown, and Lincoln Square and a Brain Freeze trek developed in partnership with Time Out Chicago Kids that goes to Margie’s Candies and other delicious locations all over the city to sample ice cream, gelato and Italian ices. Treks include:

Chicago Music Trek– Reshoot the cover of WILCO’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; learn why Kanye West named his first album The College Drop Out; and check in at local clubs like The Metro and The Empty Bottle.

Chicago Taco Trek– Discover authentic tacquerias in Pilsen and devour freshly-made tortillas in Little Village. Visit the affordable outposts of Chicago’s top chefs and restaurateurs or satisfy a late-night craving at a 24-hour taco restaurant in Bucktown.

Bike the Boulevards Trek– Bike historic boulevards while learning about Chicago’s history and public sculpture on this trek developed in partnership with WTTW, Chicago’s Public Television Station. Ride along broad, tree-shaded streets that form a 28-mile long circle around the city.

MillenniumPark Trek – Take photographs of iconic sculptures and uncover behind-the-scenes facts about this award-winning center for art, music, architecture, and landscape design that hosts over 100 free concerts and events each year.

WickerPark Trek – Check out chic boutiques and the alternative, artistic style of this popular neighborhood.

Chinatown Trek– Experience a whole different world without ever leaving Chicago with visits to a rich tapestry of restaurants, businesses and shops.

Lincoln Square Trek– Discover this neighborhood’s Old World Charm and its hip urban boutiques and retailers.


New this summer is a Transformers 3 On Location Foursquare badge experience which takes you to locations where epic battle scenes from Transformers: Dark of the Moon were shot including Hotel 71, the Tribune Tower, the Old Chicago Post Office, and Trump International Hotel and Tower.

On Location Badge – In addition to the Transformers 3 badge, choose from five other movie experiences: The Blues Brothers, The Dark Knight, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, High Fidelityand Chick Flicks in Chicago (including classics like The Lake House, While You Were Sleeping, When Harry Met Sally and The Break-Up).

Celery Salt Badge – Search for the perfect Chicago-style hot dog all over town, from Weiner Circle, Superdawg and Hot Dougs’ to U.S. Cellular Field, Wrigley Field, and the United Center.

Chicago Blues Badge – Discover the Chicago Blues by checking in at historic sites and clubs. Download the free Chicago Blues MP3 Audio Tour narrated by Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy and visit Maxwell Street, Record Row and the former home of Muddy Waters to find out why Chicago is considered the blues capital of the world.


Treks and tours throughout the city are posted every weekday on the Urban Excursions blog, including neighborhood treks, thematic treks, treks within museums, shopping treks, festival previews, and free events.

In addition to SCVNGR and Foursquare experiences, choose from a diverse menu of urban adventures including ethnic and LGBT Chicago, and treks for foodies, families, history buffs, photographers, sports fans, literature lovers, and much more.


The City’s Official Tourism website,, provides links to interactive Google maps; comprehensive event listings; engaging essays about Chicago’s 77 distinct neighborhoods; multi-media content, including audio tours, videos and podcasts; a virtual visitor center with downloadable brochures, maps and resources for international travelers; and stunning photographs showcasing the city’s best assets. It also features Insider Profiles of Chicagoans who share their favorite things to see and do in the city.

Twitter concierges are available seven days a week at to answer questions, make restaurant recommendations, and help visitors develop customized itineraries.

For daily alerts about fun and free things to do in Chicago, follow Explore Chicago on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook at, where you can also weigh in on your Chicago favorites.


The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture offers an array of free and affordable treks, events and programs. For dates, times and more information, visit

InstaGreeter Neighborhood Outposts – free walking visits of the Hyde Park, Pilsen, and Old Town neighborhoods with a friendly, knowledgeable Chicago Greeter.

Get Up and Go! – free weekly lunchtime discussions with neighborhood experts followed by a walking tour of the community.

Guided Photo Walks – free guided walks led by Chicago Greeters to photograph neighborhoods followed by photography workshops at the Lincoln Park Apple Store.

Family Adventures – low-cost fully-guided adventures created just for families that visit Chicago parks and neighborhoods and feature hands-on activities.

Chicago Neighborhood Tours – affordable half-day bus tours guided by neighborhood experts that explore the history, traditions, and people of Chicago.


Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive trip-planning assistance and information by visiting Brochures and information on Chicago’s exciting events and activities and multi-lingual maps are available at Visitor Information Centers where friendly Visitor Representatives can answer questions and assist in planning an unforgettable itinerary. The Visitor Centers are located in two of the city’s most popular areas: across from Millennium Park in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street; and at the historic Water Works pumping station, 163 E. Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue.

The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture is dedicated to promoting Chicago as a premier cultural destination to domestic and international leisure travelers, providing innovative visitor programs and services, and presenting free world-class public programs. For more information please visit

Friday, 5 August 2011

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About Travel Features Syndicate

Karen Rubin is an eclectic travel writer who has been spanning the globe for more than 30 years reporting on interesting, intriguing people and places to explore for magazines, newspapers and online. She publishes Travel Features Syndicate in newspapers and online including, Huffington Post and and blogs at "Travel is a life-changing and an interactive experience that mutually benefits travelers and community." Contact Karen at 'Like' us at

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