By Emily Boykin, Doctoral Candidate in Public Administration at Florida State University

If you’re like me, you’re currently sitting in the airport preparing for your flight to Chicago with a preliminary plan of touring the Windy City in between panels, poster sessions, luncheons, business meetings, and receptions. If you want a reprieve from the conference, or are looking to take networking beyond the Palmer House, here are a few (last minute) suggestions for your stay:

Walking Tour

The Palmer House is centrally located just inside the southeast corner of “the loop”, providing convenient access to many of Chicago’s most famous attractions. Just north of Palmer House, across from Michigan Avenue, is Millennium Park. Home of the sculpture most enthusiastically known as “the bean”, the park also has the Lurie Garden, the Crown Fountain, and other venues currently showcasing public art and architecture. A few steps further towards the lakefront will put you in Lake View park, which is sure to be pleasant outdoor experience thanks to this week’s forecast of warm days and sunny skies. To the north lies Navy Pier, a well-known tourist favorite home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and, of course, the Centennial Wheel. After seeing Chicago from 200 feet above the ground or via boat touring Lake Michigan for a quick break from walking, head back towards the skyline and Chicago’s Riverwalk to find the Magnificent Mile, a section of north Michigan Avenue known for upscale shops and hip restaurants. Make your way south down Michigan Avenue to end your day back at the Palmer House (approx. 4 – 5 miles roundtrip).

Arts & Culture

Make use of the city’s many arts, science, and family-oriented museums. This year, MPSA falls during Chicago’s annual EXPO ART WEEK which exhibits a broad overview of Chicago’s arts and cultures institutions. The Chicago Institute of Art is currently hosting an exciting Dalí exhibition outside of its comprehensive permanent gallery. If you decided on some version of a walking tour, the Chicago Children’s Museum is a nice stop along Navy Pier. The Adler Museum offers free museum nights every Wednesday evening, the Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry is free on April 18th if you’re extending your stay, and a suite of other museums also operate under free admission cycles. Consider purchasing the Chicago CityPASS if one or more of these meet your fancy. Unfortunately, the Joffrey Ballet does not align with our schedule, but consider other performing arts programs, including a production of Grease or performances by Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s finest.


Chicago is known for its sports teams, and this time of year you can catch a ton of exciting sports action. On Wednesday afternoon, early season baseball will be in swing when the Cubs go up against the Seattle Mariners at Wrigley Field. Later that night, the sports bars and pubs will be filled with Chicagoans tuning in to watch an away game as the Bulls battle the Toronto Raptors in a high stakes game with playoff implications. The Chicago Blackhawks will be winding down the hockey season Thursday night with a 7:30pm game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center. This weekend, the Chicago White Sox will be hosting a three game home series against the Baltimore Orioles. Truly no shortage of sports in the Windy City!

Food & Drink

Two words: deep dish. I’ll allow more seasoned experts to levy their opinion on the best pizzerias in town, and same with the best place to get a classic Chicago style hotdog. In the complete opposite bracket, you can experience a number of Michelin star restaurants. Maybe you’re looking for a slight palate cleanser that’s closer to the hotel? Try the Russian Tea Time Restaurant after visiting the Art Institute, the Miller’s Pub (of course) for ribs and draft beer, or Nando’s Peri-Peri or other fast-causal dinning littering the block. To top your sweet tooth, remember Chicago is also home to Garrett Popcorn and the Palmer House ice cream courtesy of the Original Rainbow Cone.


About the Author

Emily Boykin is a doctoral candidate in Public Administration at Florida State University. Her research interests are in public management and public budgeting and finance. Outside of writing, you can find her teaching Pilates and cuddling her dog, Dutch. Emily is on twitter at @EmilyBoykinPA.