What are your plans for Black Friday? Whether you’ve already finished your holiday shopping or perhaps would like to skip the rush on the Magnificent Mile and in shopping malls in Chicago, you might not have any plans the day after Thanksgiving. Luckily, the Chicago area abounds with alternatives to shopping on Black Friday. From helping others to heading out for a hike with family and friends, the following are sure to delight.
Help Those In Need
Greater Chicago Food Depository
4100 W. 42nd Place
Chicago, IL 60632
This Black Friday, consider giving to those in need by volunteering at a food pantry. According to a June 2013 press release from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, there is a great need for donated food, with more than 860,000 people in Cook County who were food insecure in 2011. What can you do to help? Consider checking out this list of food pantries in the Chicago area and spending Black Friday helping those in need through a number of ways, including delivering meals and tutoring. You can volunteer by yourself, or get your family and friends to help, too. To volunteer, please contact the food pantry listed on the site directly to see when you can help (head’s up: not every food pantry is open on Friday). You will also need to contact the food pantry in advance of Black Friday so you can register with that agency.
Learn About Chicago’s History
Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Take a step back in time by paying a visit to the Chicago History Museum. You can check out the “Ebony Fashion Fair” exhibit, and make sure to see the museum’s collection of historic artifacts. And let’s be honest, aren’t you a little curious to see what the El trains looked like back in the day? Don’t forget to check out the exhibit on the Chicago Fire, too. What’s great about the museum is that it can appeal to both long-time Windy City residents and out-of-town guests who are curious about the city’s history, so it’s certain to please just about anyone in your family.
Cheer On The Chicago Wolves
6920 N. Mannheim Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
Why not spend Black Friday cheering on the Chicago Wolves? On November 29, the team will play the Rockford IceHogs, and the game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena. Chicago Wolves games are a fun way to cap off a busy holiday weekend, and you and your family and friends can unwind while cheering on the team instead of battling the crowds for late-night deals at the shopping mall. It’s also easy to get to the game, no matter where you’re coming from, as Allstate Arena is right near I-90.
Related: Best Permanent Exhibits In Chicago
Explore A Museum
The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
1155 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
Tucked away on the University of Chicago’s campus, The Oriental Institute is loaded with priceless treasures. Spend Black Friday taking a look at artifacts in the museum’s numerous galleries, including Mesopotamia, Egypt and Nubia. You can explore at your leisure, and can also ask a museum docent for help. There are two more things you’ll love about The Oriental Institute: admission is free (although you are welcome to make a donation) and it’s within easy walking distance of a number of cafes and shops in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
Go For A Hike
Cook County Forest Preserve
536 N. Harlem Ave.
River Forest, IL 60305
After filling up on turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, you might be ready to burn a few calories on Black Friday. Why not grab your friends or relatives and get a workout by hiking on the trails in the Cook County Forest Preserve? The organization has more than 68,000 acres throughout Cook County, so you’re sure to find a trail nearby that will fit your group’s ability. Dress in layers, pack some snacks and bottled water and you’re sure to have a fun time exploring nature while also getting some exercise.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.