18 Things You Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners About Chicago

You live in Chicago. Eventually, someone is going to visit you. In fact, if they visit during the Winter, they might even visit you and then some while they try to get a flight home. Either way, you’re going to have to spend some time explaining the wonders of our fair city. Here’s a primer to some of the things you’ll inevitably have to address:

1. Navy Pier is not a must-see cultural destination

Chicagoans avoid setting foot there at all costs, unless maybe there’s something good playing at the IMAX. Actually, forget it. Not worth it.

2. Yes, we have beaches

Sure, they’re snow-covered a decent portion of the year, but there’s sand, and you can’t see the land on the other side. They’re beaches, dammit. Bonus: no saltwater in your eyes!

Flickr/Jeramey Jannene

3. No one really lives or parties in The Loop

Well, some people probably technically live there, but you wouldn’t know it after 7pm.

4. We don’t sound like "Bill Swerski’s Superfans"

Fine, some of us do. But you’re no George Wendt, so keep your circa-1992 “Da Bears” impression to yourself. Okay? Okay.

5. You won’t get curb-stomped for putting ketchup on your hot dog

You WILL get some pointed stares, though. Seriously, just TRY it without the ketchup. Even if you’re one of those weird, mustard-hating people.

6. No one calls it “Chi-Town” without irony

Except Kanye West. Do you really want to be like Kanye West?

7. All our pizza isn’t deep dish

If you’ve never had it, by all means indulge, as it’s a singularly delicious treat. But in the typical day-to-day, your average Chicagoan eats (gasp!) more thin crust.

Flickr/edward stojakovic

8. Yes, Winter really is that bad

And Winter runs from Halloween to... St. Patrick’s Day.

9. That guy who just walked into the bar with the cooler full of tamales is a hero

Disrespect him, and you forfeit your right to eat one of those delightful tamales that we definitely just purchased.

10. That really is how much the parking meters cost

You see, the city decided to lease its parking meter contracts to a private… you know what, don’t make us explain it, it just makes us angry.

11. Our highways have names, not numbers

Fine, technically they have numbers. But really, they’re Eisenhower, Stevenson, Dan Ryan… and no, they’re not your friends. Especially if you’re running late. Leave for the airport like seven hours early.

12. Speaking of which, your flight out of O’Hare won’t go smoothly

Actually, who are we kidding, you should know this already. Everyone in the country has been screwed by connecting flights through O’Hare at least twice. Even babies.

13. It’s not our fault we’re heavy

It’s pizzas and hot dogs and tamales' fault!

Flickr/Jeremy Keith

14. Why yes, you do smell delicious chocolate in the air

It’s magic! Or the Blommer Chocolate Factory. Still, you see why we’re heavy, right?

15. The bars close at 2am

Unless you’re at a 4am bar, in which case, they close at... 4am. And unless it’s Saturday, in which case, the 4am bars close at 5am. Bad decisions await you.

16. Not everyone you meet who says they’re “from Chicago” lives in the city

That girl you met at the 4am bar who wants you to cab it back to Schaumburg with her? Don’t do it. Unless she’s really hot.

17. Yes, New York and San Francisco friends, our rent IS that cheap

Indianapolis friends who brag about their comparatively inexpensive rent will be punished by… having to go back to Indianapolis.

18. Your Cubs jokes aren’t funny

Unless you tell them to Sox fans, in which case, they’re hilarious.

Sign up here for our daily Chicago email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Matt Lynch is a Senior Editor at Thrillist and will happily dispense his Chicago insights to friends, tourists, and random strangers on the street who didn't even ask him anything. Follow him @MLynchChi.