Chicago is one of the most magical cities in the U.S.! With impeccable placement right on Lake Michigan, residents and tourists alike can enjoy the city’s beaches and breathtaking views. It’s the best of both worlds with high rise buildings, a walkable city layout, grassy green parks, and of course—it’s also one of the best places to be a foodie in the country!
As you blow into the Windy City from South Florida, check into your gorgeous home-away-from-home at one of Chicago’s best hotels: Thompson Chicago. At this hip, stylish, and sleek hotel, you get views of the Gold Coast neighborhood and the Magnificent Mile—eight blocks of shopping, entertainment, and dining. Book the Thompson Suite, which comes with plenty of lavish amenities like terraces with a view, a deep soaking tub, Frette terrycloth robes, and a gourmet mini-bar. The hotel has a delightful Italian restaurant, Nico Osteria, and an opulent bar and lounge, Salone Nico.
For your first attraction, you’ll want to start with one of the most popular: The Bean, located in Millennium Park. Everyone has seen a picture of this unique bean-shaped sculpture at some point, although the real title of the piece is called “Cloud Gate.” Visitors come to this sculpture to take selfies in its reflective mirror-like stainless steel, or just to marvel at its beauty. Once you get that Instagram-ready shot, explore the rest of the park! Don’t miss the Crown Fountain, which consists of two interactive 50-foot tall LED screens displaying the faces of Chicago residents, separated by a reflecting pool. You can even jump in for a refreshing splash; it’s summertime, so don’t hold back! Other interesting features of the park include Jay Pritzker Pavilion, where you can catch a concert or show; Lurie Garden, where you can marvel at colorful plants and flowers; and Maggie Daley Park, where you can climb 40-foot tall rock climbing walls, and roller-skate down a lengthy skating ribbon.
Channel your inner Ferris Bueller by heading to the Art Institute of Chicago! One of the most famous scenes in the 80’s film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was filmed here, in front of the iconic painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Seurat. Other incredible artists featured here are Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Warhol, and Toulouse- Lautrec, among many others. This museum actually holds the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, France!
After you’ve dabbled in the arts, take another Ferris Bueller-style adventure at the Willis Tower. If you’re not afraid of heights, this is the adventure for you, as you will be able to see glorious sights of the city from 1,353 feet above! The Ledge attraction allows you to stand on a platform that juts out from the side of the building and is entirely made out of glass—allowing you to stare straight down at the streets below you. By the way, this attraction takes place on the 103rd floor of the building, so it’s not for the light hearted!
You’re probably desperate to catch your breath after experiencing such exhilarating sights! Luckily for you, the next activity up on the itinerary is a lot more relaxed. Visit one of the last remaining free zoos in the country: Lincoln Park Zoo. This 35-acre attraction has been around since 1868 and has tons of animals on display, from polar bears to giraffes and penguins! There’s even a new Regenstein Macaque Forest, where you can spot snow monkeys swinging from tree to tree!
For dinner, you’re in for a truly sensational experience at Alinea, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. Chef Grant Achatz’s three Michelin star restaurant boasts that it’s an experience, not just a restaurant. There’s different ways to experience Alinea. The most expensive, called “The Kitchen Table,” costs $390 to $395 per person and offers an immersive and intimate time in a private dining space. The least costly, “The Salon Menu” leads you through a 10-12 course tasting menu at $190 to $285 per person. Make sure to ask for the restaurant’s signature edible helium taffy balloons, which will have you giggling all night!
A lot of talent has come out of Chicago over the years. Big names like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Harrison Ford, and Bill Murray come to mind. However, the celebrities that are most notable that have risen out of Chi Town tend to be comedians! Yes, for some reason, Chicago really knows how to make people laugh. See for yourself by catching some late night entertainment at The Second City, a comedy club and improv company. This venue is responsible for some of Saturday Night Live’s biggest stars’ success. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, and countless others got their start on The Second City stage. Buy tickets to one of their stand-up or improv shows. Who knows? You might be watching the next biggest star!
To check out a bit of Chi’s party scene, head to Disco, a stunning club that’s complete with a multi-color lit-up dance floor, disco balls, and of course, tons of funk. You can even order a cocktail that comes in a mini disco ball shaped cup to really get in the spirit! Come here to break down those groovy dance moves—in addition to disco, soul and house music are played throughout the night! Once you’re done hitting the dance floor, retreat back to your gorgeous hotel for a good night’s rest!
Well, The Windy City has surely blown you away! With its vast and entertaining nightlife scene, amazing food, and countless things to do, you definitely haven’t seen all it has to offer, meaning that a second visit is inevitable! Chicago is a very special city that continues to expand and grow, getting better, brighter, and dreamier. It’s hard not to fall in love with the spectacular views, whether that be of Lake Michigan, the tall buildings, or the many wonderful parks. Plan your trip back to Chi Town soon, you’ve still got plenty to see and do!
By Aaliyah Pasols