Wondering what to do with end-of-summer visitors? Take them on a neighborhood tour with Chicago Greeter, where locals have volunteered to show tourists around for more than 20 years.
Sharyne Moy Tu has been giving tours in Chinatown and the Loop to visitors from across the U.S. and more than 30 countries for five years.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is a tour with you like?
About 95% of my guests want to experience a neighborhood outside of downtown and take the L. So I take them on the Red Line, and we tour Wentworth Avenue — the bakeries, the square, the library, and go for dim sum because most folks have not heard of or tried it.
I customize tours to the visitors’ interests and where they’ve been in the city. I go on other tours — Chicago Architecture Center, Tours With Mike, and crime tours — to learn more. And, I get a lot of exercise, too.
How have you changed visitors’ minds about Chicago?
Chicago is not on the top of the list for most international visitors — it’s usually New York City or San Francisco or LA. They don’t realize how great our city is. And so we show them around, and they’re amazed that Chicago is so clean, that the lake looks like an ocean, and we have great public transit.
What’s something surprising that has come out of the tours?
I have made many lasting friendships. Some I keep in touch with through Instagram. There was a family from Argentina who came last year and returned this year.
Sharyne Moy Tu, right, with visitors. (Courtesy of Sharyne Moy Tu)
The group is looking for more volunteers to give tours in Chatham, South Shore, West Ridge, Garfield Park, and Rogers Park. Bonus points if you speak another language.