Sweet liberation. You can nearly taste it. Spring break is only a few weeks away and you can hardly contain your excitement for actual free time — something Northwestern students rarely come by during a busy quarter.
There’s only one problem: You’re staying in Evanston.
Your friends have all scrimped and saved for months. They’re heading off to tropical and interesting places or returning home for spring break, but you decided to save money and chill out around campus for the week off. You’re pretty jealous of your friends, but Evanston can be a fun place to spend free time, and you have Chicago right in your backyard! The city is full of so many amazing things to do, even on a college student’s budget. Stretch your spring break budget a little farther with these adventures that won’t break the bank.
Be Cultured, Even on a Budget
If you’re looking to spend a cheap day on the town, use your Wildcard to your advantage. You can get awesome discounts at everything from stores to museums. Notable places to check out include the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Art Institute of Chicago. Both will let you in for free. Bargain. Bonus: The intercampus shuttle will be running during spring break, so you can hitch a free ride to the Chicago Campus, which is right in the Loop!
Don’t Waste Time Lion Around- Go To the Zoo
Once you’ve soaked up all the culture at the MCA and Art Institute, head back up north a bit to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Over break, the weather will hopefully have begun to reach quasi-normal temperatures again and you won’t get hypothermia upon instant contact with the outdoor air. Take advantage of that and get outdoors! The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and in the heart of a neighborhood full of good restaurants and shops to explore once you’re done fawning over all of the cute animals.
Brave the Tourists
I know some people avoid it like the plague because tourists are annoying, but Navy Pier has some really cool events going on over the week of break. On Sundays, they have cultural festivals called Neighborhoods of the World. There you can enjoy music, dance, art, and, most importantly, food from the week’s featured country. During break, hit up the Lithuanian celebration March 12 and the Mexican celebration March 19 to get a taste of new cultures. Best part? It’s free.
Venture into the Unknown
Check out a Chicago neighborhood you haven’t explored yet. The CTA is totally figure-out-able and not too expensive. Take advantage of finally having free time and explore a part of the city that you wouldn’t have time to get to during the quarter. Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Pilsen are all super fun and a little far, so break is the perfect time to take the trek and expand your horizons. Just be sure to plan it out a bit beforehand and make sure to stay safe.
Believe it or not, there are fun things happening in Evanston too! Stock up on fresh veggies and meet some locals at the Evanston indoor farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. It’s a fun, therapeutic, and relaxing activity. Grab a few friends and do a DIY brunch afterward with all your produce purchases. Yummy and more cost effective than a restaurant. (And if you do brunch at home, you’re under no obligation to change out of your pjs!)
For the over 21 crowd, The Celtic Knot on Church Street has storytelling open mic nights every other Sunday evening, and on March 19 they’re hosting “Storytelling in the Snug with Joseph Sobol.” Their website describes it as “Into the Woods as a one-man show.” Bring a few friends, sip good drinks, and bask in the creative talent that surrounds you. And there’s no cover— sounds worth checking out to me!
Don’t sweat it if you’re stuck in the 60201 for break. Evanston is surprisingly fun when you’re not bogged down by millions of hours of work. And with all that extra time, you might finally be able to journey into the city for a day of exploration. Make the most of it, and you can still have a relaxing, enjoyable spring break!