Explore Chicago’s Buy Local Guide: Experiential Gifts

Hyde Park Art CenterStart checking off your holiday shopping list! Explore Chicago encourages you to support local businesses during this 2011 holiday season as part of a city-wide “Buy Local” campaign. From a hands-on cooking demo to a unique art class or healthy recreational activity, give the gift of a Chicago experience this year by considering some of these Chicago-centric gift ideas. 

A cooking class for the culinary aficionado: In addition to the experience of a hands-on cooking lesson, many of these independent businesses provide a collection of the finest culinary equipment, gadgets, and books to choose from for all of your cooking endeavors. Some of these locally owned culinary offerings such as The Wooden Spoon (5047 N. Clark St, Andersonville)The Chopping Block (4747 N. Lincoln Ave, Lincoln Square), The Kids’ Table (2337 W. North Ave, Wicker Park/West Town), or the Heat and Spice Cooking School (925 W. Cullom Ave, Uptown) provide a plethora of fantastic cooking classes and demos to help hone your skills in the kitchen. For the beer connoisseur in your life, Brew Camp (2039 W. Belle Plaine Ave, North Center) has classes including everything one needs to make his own beer.

Get creative juices flowing for the art enthusiast: Help your loved ones explore their creative sides through photography, jewelry, or art classes at the Lillstreet Art Center (4401 N. Ravenswood Ave, Ravenswood)Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S. Cornell Ave, Kenwood), or Little Black Pearl (1060 E. 47th St, Kenwood). The Chicago Park District also has a wide range of visual arts and creative writing classes to choose from. Check out hands-on art instruction with a BYOB component at Bottle & Bottega (2900 N. Lincoln Ave, Lakeview) or choose from a variety of workshops on traditional glassblowing techniques at Chicago Hot Glass (1250 N. Central Park Ave, Humboldt Park).

A recreational adventure for the active Chicagoan: Take Chicago Dance is a great resource for dance classes, workshops and educational opportunities around the city. Grab a gift certificate to the awesomely vintage bowling alley Fireside Bowl (2648 W. Fullerton Ave, Logan Square), which opened in the ’40s and has kept most of its period feel. Bobby’s Bike Hike (located in River North & Lincoln Park) sets the standard in bicycle touring by providing quality information, group interaction, and most of all, fun! Visit ExploreChicago.org for a more in-depth list of bike tour resources. The Chicago Park District is another fantastic resource for active winter programming.

A museum membership for the history buff: A membership at any one of Chicago’s world-class museums, such as the Chicago History Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Contemporary Art, or the Museum of Science and Industry (to name only a few!) is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Many of these memberships offer admission deals, special access, discounted parking, exclusive events and workshops, store discounts, and member previews. Check out even more Chicago museums on ExploreChicago.org.

For more information about Local First Chicago‘s UnWrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local 2011 campaign, visit www.unwrapchicago.org.

For more information on shopping and dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods, visit www.explorechicago.org/neighborhoods.