This blog post was updated on April 30, 2020.
If someone were to base their entire knowledge of the world on movies…then they’d have some pretty odd views. But aside from mixed-up opinions on romance, violence, and comedy (and…life) – such a movie fanatic would also think that there were only two real cities in America worth visiting: New York and Los Angeles. Why? Because that’s where pretty much most films are set in the U.S.
Except for the films of 80s auteur John Hughes. Writer/producer/director, Hughes created comedies, usually about teenagers, that set the mood of the decade. Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, and more. And they were all, for the most part, set in Hughes’ home turf of the Chicago area.
And no one movie by John Hughes is a greater love letter to Chicago than 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Starring Matthew Broderick as the titular teen, the movie is about a popular teen from the suburbs who skips school with his best friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane to spend the day in the windy city.
Besides being a classic comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is also a fantastic resource for any trip to Chicago. Here are just some of things to do in Chi-Town gleaned from recently rewatching the movie.
Take Cruise Along Lake Shore Drive
There’s probably no better way to take in the famous Chicago skyline than a drive along the city’s famed expressway that runs along the Lake Michigan’s shore. Lake Shore Drive is scenic (and cinematic introduction to the city), which is probably why Hughes had the trio drive along the route as they began their day playing hooky.
Stand Atop The Sears Tower (Now Willis Tower)
For 25 years, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. Now it’s the twelfth tallest on the planet, as well as the second tallest in the US, AND has been renamed the Willis Tower. Still, its observation deck is the most popular tourist attraction in the city.
Watch the Trading At Chicago Board of Trade
The oldest operating exchange of commodities’ futures and options, a visit to the CBOT can be an informative trip…that get’s interesting when your tour takes you to the trading floor, where some old school open outcry trading is still done.
Catch a Game (and Maybe a Ball) at Wrigley Field
What trip to Chicago isn’t complete without visiting the city’s iconic baseball stadium? It’s over a hundred years old and probably the most famous stadium in America. If you want to catch a foul ball, like Ferris did in the movie, then you’re best bet is to set along the 3rd base in sections 104 – 111 OR along the 1st base line in sections 133-140.
Appreciate the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
Known for its collection of the impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit for any art fan traveling through the heartland, as well as any Hughes fanatic. But not matter your reason for visiting, it’s a fun experience.
Check out a Chicago Parade
In one of the film’s most famous scenes, Ferris crashes a parade in downtown Chicago and entertains the crowd with renditions of Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen” and the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.” Obviously, such a feat isn’t feasible, buuut if you were to try or at least watch from the crowd to see if anyone else does, there are over a dozen parades in Chicago every year (along with a lot of other festivals and public celebrations). The parade that Ferris crashes is for Von Steduben Day and part of the city’s annual German Day festival in September.