Hyde Park walking tour with Vimbly and Joyce Walks Chicago

You all should know by now that I’m a fan of this thing I call “hometown travel“, aka being a tourist in your own city. It’s especially easy in a city like Chicago with all of our diverse neighborhoods, our world-class architecture, and our incredible arts scene. So when Vimbly approached me to ask if I’d like to participate in a complimentary event or activity in Chicago, of course I enthusiastically said yes.

Wait, what’s Vimbly? So, Vimbly is kind of the new kid on the block. I like to explain it as the one place you check for things to do in a city, for fun activities that you might find on Groupon or LivingSocial. The cool thing about Vimbly, though, is you can check to see what’s available and book something for that very same day (unlike many of the offers from those other sites that require advance purchase or reservations). According to Vimbly, it’s “the fastest way to book thousands of activities, classes & date ideas. These include dance, cooking, glassblowing, pizza making, wine tasting, learning to DJ, improvisation, scotch pairing, samurai sword fighting, persuasion class, and more.” Vimbly is currently live in eight U.S. cities: New York City; Chicago; Boston; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Seattle; Orlando; and Maui, with Washington, DC and Philadelphia launching soon.

Vimbly provided me a list of activities in Chicago from which to choose. Many looked interesting but one kind of jumped out at me: Historic Hyde Park walking tour. As I said about Little India, Hyde Park is one neighborhood in Chicago that I’m embarrassingly unfamiliar with. I mean, I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life and the only times I’d been to Hyde Park were to go to the Museum of Science and Industry. My decision was made and I went through the steps on the Vimbly website to book the Historic Hyde Park walking tour. It was simple to do and I received email confirmation almost immediately.

The tour itself is conducted by Joyce Walks Chicago.  I met our tour guide, Paula, and the other tour participants at the location indicated in the emails I’d received from Vimbly. The day of my scheduled tour was cold. Really cold. We expect low temperatures in Chicago in December but the cold on this day was almost unbearable. In fact, our tour started out with seven people; by the half-way point, we were down to three (I was one of them).

Much of the Hyde Park neighborhood consists of the University of Chicago campus and that’s where we started. I’ll share some of the highlights of the tour but I’m not going to tell you everything. I recommend you take the tour yourself. Paula is an excellent speaker, obviously passionate about what she does, and thoroughly knowledgeable. Aside from being half-frozen, I enjoyed every single minute of the tour.

The first stop was Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, “the ceremonial and spiritual center of the University of Chicago”. The non-denominational shrine is named for – you guessed it – its patron, John D. Rockefeller. We got to go inside and immediately I was in awe. The Gothic architecture is reminiscent of many of the cathedrals I’d visited in Italy, and the E.M. Skinner organ, Opus 634, is a sight to behold.

Rockefeller Chapel, outside and in

Rockefeller Chapel, outside and in

Another highlight, and an additional architectural gem, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House. We did not get to go inside (tours of the historic home are run separately and for an additional fee) but I was content admiring the Prairie-style architecture of this U.S. National Historic Landmark from outside.

Frederick C. Robie House

Frederick C. Robie House

No visit to a college campus is complete without a stroll across the quad…

The Quad

The Quad

…after which we switched gears and took in some of the more modern architecture.

There is so much more to the tour and Paula truly is a delight. Why else would I have stuck it out for almost three hours in that bitter cold? And if you find yourself in one of the eight (soon to be ten) Vimbly cities with some spare time, check out Vimbly’s offerings and try something fun.

Vimbly provided me a complimentary voucher for my choice of activity in Chicago. I chose the Hyde Park walking tour with Joyce Walks Chicago on my own. Paula and Joyce Walks Chicago did not have any knowledge of my being affiliated with Vimbly. All opinions, thoughts, and photos are my own.

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13 Responses to Hyde Park walking tour with Vimbly and Joyce Walks Chicago

  1. Amber DeGrace January 8, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    This sounds like so much fun! I love guided walking tours for the secret nuggets of information that I probably wouldn’t find on my own. Also, I MUST get to Chicago. The architecture is amazing!
    Amber DeGrace recently posted…Chocolate-Nut Spread (à la Nutella)My Profile

  2. Raul (@ilivetotravel) January 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Chicago never ceases to amaze me. I will never fully know it, it is so vast! But good to know of ways like this to maximize the exploring!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted…Photo of the Week – The Metropolitain in Paris (aka: the “metro”)My Profile

  3. Lance | Trips By Lance January 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    I think we would enjoy this tour. My wife loves architecture and houses. Maybe we’ll look into this when we visit Chicago this year.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…Getting Older: 37 Life Travel Moments (the conclusion)My Profile

  4. Traveling Ted January 11, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Awesome of you to stick out the whole three hour tour on a cold day. I just don’t understand how you could grin and bear a hardy Chicago winter yet fear cute little alligators.

    The tour looks great. I too am quite unfamiliar with Hyde Park. I had heard there was a Frank Lloyd Wright or two in Chicago, but did not even know what neighborhood it was in.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Canoeing the Hillsborough River – coming up short on Big MoeMy Profile

  5. Mary Anne January 12, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    WE are here in Chicago and don’t have the time, otherwise we’d totally do this!

  6. the lazy travelers January 12, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    still haven’t been to chicago, still kick ourselves every time you share something new about your hometown. SIGH.
    the lazy travelers recently posted…my hOtel: the @mrsoaroundworld abodeMy Profile

  7. D.J. - The World of Deej January 12, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Sounds like a great day. “Home town” travel is something I wish I could do more often, but alas there isn’t much in small town Florida. Probably why nearly all of our travels take us to big cities….
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted…New Year’s Eve at EpcotMy Profile

  8. Lola January 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    I’ve really gotten into walking tours lately. This looks great!
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  9. @mrsoaroundworld January 13, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    There is something about being a tourist in one’s town!! Brave girl for braving the cold!
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  10. Monique January 14, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    What a great tour! We will be sure to visit the area when we visit Chicago!
    Monique recently posted…How to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam CentraalMy Profile

  11. Liza January 15, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    This looks great!
    Liza recently posted…Students Prefer Us Because They Are Grateful for Our ResponsibilityMy Profile

  12. Paula January 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Glad you enjoyed your time with us! As you probably detected, I LOVE our city. Come and see us again, and thanks for the “thumbs up”!

  13. Erin at The World Wanderer January 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Vimbly?! I am so excited you introduced me to this – it sounds like an awesome idea! I will have to check it out for the NYC area, and maybe for Chicago when I come visit you. 😉

    This looks like it was a really great day. I love college campuses and Frank Lloyd Wright, so this is right up my alley.
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted…Wandering around Barcelona.My Profile

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