As a young man in Calabria, Italy, Antonio Scalzo worked on Fiats and Alfa Romeos. After he moved to the U.S., he exercised his eye for detail and love of Italian autos as he and his family opened and operated a successful FIAT dealership in the Chicago suburbs. Following his success outside the city, he opened the brand-new FIAT of Chicago steps west of the Loop, taking pride in being the city's first FIAT dealership. There, Antonio and his staff welcome visitors into a showroom filled with shiny testaments to Italian craftsmanship. Cars such as the FIAT 500 series in both sport and lounge models, a playful vehicle that exudes an elegant, chic, European sensibility. Curious motorists get behind the wheel of their favorite speed machine during test drives and can take in their precious four-wheeled friends for regular maintenance, flashy upgrades, or booster shots at the service center.
Almost a century ago, it was 1914 and William J. Cassidy was gazing out from his livery stable to watch the newfangled automobiles rumble past on Roosevelt Road. He knew then that he’d been right to expand from shoeing horses to also servicing tires. Never having children, Will took his 16-year-old nephew, Hugh, under his wing in the venture. When Will retired, Hugh took over and kept the company afloat even during the bleakest days of the Depression and WWII. Hugh’s six sons all followed in the family footsteps, opening additional locations in the suburbs, and then their children opened even more.
Today, those descendants operate 15 Cassidy Tire & Service locations throughout the city and suburbs. The Cassidy experts keep vehicles running smoothly as they grow old by practicing a full range of other auto services, from rotating tires to changing oil and flushing transmissions.
Technicians at the 6,000-square-foot West Loop Auto Spa hand wash cars from bumper to bumper with professional-grade products. During full-service washes, the technicians go the extra mile to clean glass, vacuum interiors, and wipe down the dash and rims, while customers test-drive the shop's complimentary WiFi. With their detailing services, they shampoo all mats and carpets, clean leather, and finish crossword puzzles tucked under the seats. In addition to washing and detailing, they also offer dent-removal services and window tinting.
Chicago Elevated, run by effusive improv veteran Margaret Hicks, leads curious charges on eclectic group, private, and custom tours of the city. Jaunts lead natives and tourists alike through the city’s oft-overlooked nooks and crannies as Hicks’s jovial voice narrates every step, shedding light on secret areas and easily overlooked historic sites. Her pedway tour sojourns into Chicago’s tiled subterranean antecity, where retailers, restaurants, and mole people mingle. Tours explore sites of famous disasters, visit the ghostly red-light district that once stretched below what is now Printer’s Row, and gaze at downtown’s ornate architecture from the riverwalk.
Stationed in Wrigleyville after college, Hicks accrued the healthy sense of humor and comedic timing that pepper each tour at Second City, iO, and other theaters. Though she attempted a move to New York City, Hicks soon discovered she couldn’t stay away from Chicago’s majestic skyline or the skyscrapers’ subtly receding hairlines. A stint in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s docent program, as well as acting as a tour guide for six years, arm her with insider’s knowledge that soon transfers to listeners’ brains.
For more than three decades, Booth Bay Whale Watch has escorted spectators fascinated by the sea's magnificent giants on three- to four-hour treks 15 miles off the Gloucester coast. Passengers on the 115-foot professionally piloted Hurricane II can witness the natural grace of humpback whales, finback whales, dolphins, and pirates disguised as mermaids cavorting in the depths. In the course of the approximately 60-mile circuit, a member of Planet Whale narrates excursions, illumining the sight of each water dweller by discussing why whales breach, how to recognize individual humpbacks, and various feeding styles.
With lube and service centers spread across America, Valvoline Instant Oil Change ensures that roads from coast to coast teem with automotive vigor. Certified technicians perform a roster of services, including quick in-and-out oil changes that allow motorists to arrive without an appointment and remain in their car while Valvoline oils forge a truce between metal parts. Facilities also encourage odometers to reach up to 300,000 miles with an engine-guarantee program that helps motors live long enough to see tow trucks go extinct. Valvoline extends its care to cars of all makes and models as well as charitable organizations.