Things to do during a Pandemic in Chicago and Los Angeles

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Originally posted in our Collab Blog Post #Staycation: Responsible and Safe Travels during a Pandemic; this contribution from Cait Kontalis still is inspiring finding things to do during a Pandemic with safe travels and nearby destinations to visit.


Guest Blogger: Cait Kontalis, USA


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Sitting at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, one of the world busiest airports, just 40 minutes before boarding, and the rows of empty chairs are an unusual sight. They seem to serve as grave markers of souls once continent-hopping.


I love to sit in airports. Time standstills here. Everyone is a stranger, but today you share the same mission of air travel.'


The “benefits” of flying during COVID-19 is that hardly anyone is. Security takes minutes if not seconds. Lines for lunch couldn’t be shorter. The chance to have no one sitting next to you on the flight is high.


Yet something is missing. The excitement of our interconnected world has slowed. As restrictions have eased in Chicago, a fake sense of normalcy has popped up in our day-to-day lives. Patio seating, bars are open, people gathering at the park.


The airport doesn’t lie like that though. The adrenaline and nervous sweats of making your flight are but a memory, and fighting for a seat at your crowded gate is a thing of the past. Sitting at the airport now feels like sitting in a hospital. Beeps and buzzes you don’t recognize are no longer background noise but your source of entertainment. Conversations are muted, and everyone takes precautions to make sure six seats away is enough.


You can’t escape COVID-19 in an airport because our world is trapped in an airport.


Photo Credit: Nate Benz


5 Free Things to Do in Chicago


We can all search for “free things to do in Chicago” and get the Lincoln Park Zoo, Garfield Park Conservatory, etc. Here I highlight some smaller gems, beloved by locals on a typical day!


Chess Pavilion


The Chess Pavilion is a hidden gem in Old Town. Located near North Avenue beach, this concrete pavilion overlooks Lake Michigan and a jaw-dropping view of the skyline. Come bring a chessboard, and sit with a leg on each side of these great cement blocks, with a black and whiteboard in-between. You’ll likely encounter some chess pros who will invite themselves to the bleachers of your game.


Oz Park


Oz Park brings the magic of The Wizard of Oz to Chicago. Complete with a Yellowbrick road, statues of the characters, and an “Emerald Garden”, this delightful park is a great place to pack a lunch, enjoy a Chicago summer, and reminisce on some childhood memories.


Hollywood Beach


Located in Chicago’s Northside Edgewater neighborhood, this beach stands out for its cleanliness. Away from the tourists, you feel like you’ve left the city for a bit and you’re on the coast. Filled with