Legacy Walk Is An Outdoor LGBTQ+ History Museum That's A Must-Visit On Your Next Trip To Chicago

Chicago, Illinois is one of America's great cities. Both locals and travelers can find exciting activities in this Midwestern metropolis. Among US vacation spots to add to your bucket list, the Windy City is a definitive must.

Between the iconic Bean sculpture, the bustling Navy Pier, the historic Wrigley Field, and the celebrated Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago is home to some of the most popular American tourist destinations. But the city has even more to offer, especially for those interested in LGBTQ+ history and civil rights.

Chicago has a long history of hosting LGBTQ+ activists and other prominent LGBTQ+ icons, reaching back to 1889 when social reform activist Jane Addams opened the Hull House, according to the Chicago Tribune. An inductee of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, the nineteenth-century figure reportedly had same-sex relationships.

Throughout the twentieth century, people in Chicago and the state of Illinois led some of the most prominent LGBTQ+ rights advances. That history of celebrating LGBTQ+ identities continues in the Windy City with this must-see outdoor museum.

Chicago's Legacy Walk celebrates LGBTQ+ culture and history

If you're heading to Chicago or live nearby, take a stroll through LGBTQ+ history at the Legacy Walk. Founded by the Legacy Project of Chicago, this outdoor museum consists of ten pairs of "Rainbow Pylons" lined up across North Halsted Street.

Along the Northalsted neighborhood (also known as Boystown), you will find 40 plaques that honor LGBTQ+ icons and recognize gay culture and history, according to ABC 7 Chicago. To celebrate "National Coming Out Day" — which occurs on October 11 of each year — the Legacy Project adds new memorials, switching out older plaques that will be housed in the organization's visitor center, according to its website.

The Legacy Walk has been officially recognized as a historic landmark since 2019 and has welcomed about 1.5 million visitors per year since opening in 2012, per its website. Guided tours of the Legacy Walk are available, with discounts offered to college students, seniors, and youth.

"Anyone who takes the Legacy Walk will have their breath taken away by the rich history of the LGBTQ community here in Chicago," Lori Lightfoot, Chicago's first openly gay mayor, said in 2021, per ABC 7 Chicago.

Other LGBTQ-centered activities in Chicago

Celebrated as one of the oldest hubs for LGBTQ+ communities and activism, Chicago is home to many exhibits, landmarks, and activities that celebrate gay culture. The neighborhood home to the Legacy Walk — Northalsted — is known as the oldest gay neighborhood in the country, according to Choose Chicago.

Known also as Boystown, Northalsted has a number of gay bars with long histories of serving as a place of respite and joy for LGBTQ+ people. According to Time Out, Northalsted's Sidetrack is the place to be. With six rooms and a rooftop, the bar is somehow still packed when the weekend arrives. It even reserves Mondays for musical theater aficionados.

If you're planning on a summer getaway to the city, Chicago's Pride Month celebrations in June are hard to beat. A huge parade kicks off the celebration. Many people also head to Grant Park for the inclusive, high-energy Pride In The Park festival, according to Chicago Pride.