A Chicago Itinerary to DIY “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
With the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off upon us—and a three-day Ferris Fest on the city’s (unofficial) calendar to celebrate—fans of the film will be flocking to the Loop and other Northside locales to follow in Ferris’ footsteps.
Ferris drove a Ferrari, caught an elevator to the top of the Sears Tower, studied renowned masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago, and took in a game at Wrigley Field. But his adventure wasn't quite perfect. Without the help of cameras, extras, and fictional locations, not every activity in Ferris’s itinerary stands strong. We’ve taken the liberty of rerouting Ferris Bueller's Day Off to help you explore the city in even more style.
1. The Signature Lounge at the John Hancock Center
A View from Above
After dropping off your Ferrari with two trustworthy garage attendants, it's time to scope out the city. Ferris and company chose Chicago's tallest building, the Willis (then Sears) Tower, as their lookout point. But that isn't the only giant in town.
By shedding a hardly noticeable 300 feet in height, the John Hancock Center also reduces the crowd factor. At its Signature Lounge on the 96th floor, you’ll find a quiet table, a solid cocktail menu, and choice sweets—including a boozy Bailey’s cheesecake topped with sour cherry sauce. All of this comes with the same bird’s-eye view you’d find at the Willis Tower (which you can see, along with the rest of the Loop, from the women’s restroom).
A Bit of Culture
After his visit to the top of the world, Ferris headed to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he largely ignored the futures and options trading. Since time is limited and montages don’t exist in real life, skip the Exchange and head straight to the Art Institute.
Fans of the film can make a beeline for the second floor’s popular impressionist gallery, where Cameron famously surveyed Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Save some time for the sprawling halls of ancient Greco-Roman and southeast Asian sculptures, as these are no less compelling and typically much quieter.
A Weekday Lunch
Sadly, Chez Quis doesn't actually exist. But if you’re looking for an upscale lunch on Rush Street, you could hardly do better than the decidedly real Phil Stefani's. White tablecloths, an Italian-born chef, and a bar that looks like it was yanked out of the 1950s make for a dining experience that’s fit for the silver screen. The chef’s Italian heritage is on full display in the pollo al mattone, a whole organic chicken grilled under a brick. To stay rooted in American soil, slice into an 18-ounce prime kansas city strip.
A Weekend Lunch
Though it’s not quite as upscale as the great Chez Quis (or Phil Stefani’s, for that matter), Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. has history to back it up. The building narrowly escaped the spray of machine guns during the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, and it later suffered through a fire that gutted its insides.
Today, the restaurant focuses less on its violent history and more on its truly distinctive pizzas. The kitchen’s made-from-scratch creations are closer kin to pot pies than to the traditional Chicago deep dish. A protective dome of Sicilian-style bread encases a sauce of plum tomatoes and olive oil, a special blend of cheeses, sausages made from prime boston butts, and whole mushrooms.
Catch a Game
Ferris watched his team from the lower deck of Wrigley Field, but there’s an even better perch located just outside the stadium. The trio of baseball club lounges that make up Wrigleyville Rooftops combine unobstructed views of the game with worthy Cracker Jack substitutes such as peppercorn beef tenderloin. Rather than standing for the seventh-inning stretch, go ahead and play a game of pool.
6. Von Steuben Day Parade
Twist and Shout!
As fictional as it seems in the film, the parade—a celebration of German culture and, more specifically, Baron Friedrich von Steuben—is real. Still, your chances of hopping on a float to sing "Danke Schoen” are miniscule at best.
To catch the Von Steuben Day Parade this year, schedule your day on the town for Saturday, September 10, and head to Lincoln and Leland Avenues at about 2 p.m. (you’ll have to leave the Cubs game early to make it on time). As soon as the floats have parked, follow the aroma of veal bratwurst and pretzels down Lincoln to arrive at Glunz Bavarian Haus, where Hofbräu hefeweizen and Spaten Pils flow freely. Or park yourself just around the corner at Laschet’s Inn, home to a shoe closet’s worth of boot-shaped glasses.
Can’t Wait Until School’s In Session?
At Ferris Fest—a three-day celebration of the 30th anniversary of the film’s release—you’ll have the opportunity to recreate the iconic “Twist and Shout” segment from the film’s depiction of the parade. The festivities run from Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22, with the parade weaving through a yet-to-be-disclosed route downtown. We’re not saying there will be prizes for dressing the part, but you might want to bust your fringed white-leather jacket out of the closet: 80’s cosplay is heavily encouraged.
Patrick Wisniewski was born in Michigan, traveled to Baltimore and Belize, and now lives with his fiancée in Chicago. He once touched lava on an active volcano with a stick.