Chicago: more than a musical, more than a band, more than just a city. There’s a vibe in the city that makes it great to live in and great to visit. Whether you’re looking to sample Chicago’s staple foods, listen to some great music, learn about history and architecture, or just chill out – do it Chicago-style.
• The Chicago River: iconic and totally photo-worthy. Well, be glad you’re seeing it in 2016 and not pre-1900. The river used to flow towards Lake Michigan, and carry sewage with it into the city’s main source of drinking water. Thankfully, engineers managed to reverse the water flow and fix the contamination issue.
• What do Calgary, Ottawa, and Chicago have in common? They’re all cities that (former) Heads of State claim as their hometowns. While Harper and Trudeau claim Calgary and Ottawa respectively, Barack and Michelle Obama hail from Chicago, and maintain a home in Hyde Park to this day.
• You’ve likely heard Chicago deemed the “Windy City”, but the name doesn’t come from its weather – in fact, Boston, Milwaukee, Dallas, and San Francisco all have higher average wind speeds. The name comes from the “hot air” released from politicians bragging about the city in the 19th century.
1) Watch the sun set/rise
Get your iconic Chicago skyline pic atop one of the peaks in the city: Willis (Sears) Tower Skydeck, John Hancock Center Observatory, the Historic Water Tower, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, or a seat in the nosebleeds at Wrigley Field. Accented with a beautiful sunset or sunrise, and you’ll have an insta-worthy shot.
2) Eat a memorable Chicago-style meal
A Chicago-style hot dog: mustard, pickles, relish, onion, hot peppers, tomato, celery salt, but NEVER ketchup. Get your fix at Superdawg Drive-In, Hot Doug’s, or Gold Coast Dogs. The beef sandwiches you’ve had at home can’t compare to the Italian beef you’ll get at Mr. Beef (get the beef au jus). And of course, for the cheesier cravings, you’ve gotta grab a slice of true Chicago-style deep-dish at Giordano’s, Edwardo’s Natural Pizza, Gino’s East, Pizzeria Uno, or Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.
Hard to pick just one thing Chicago is known for, but the nightlife in this city sizzles like no other. Legendary clubs like House of Blues or Second City are must-dos when visiting, but you can also check out the comedy-cult favorite iO Theater, indie fave Metro, or dance your heart out at Smart Bar. Bonus: your same-night used concert ticket from Metro waives your cover at Smart Bar.
You can’t forget about the joy of walking around a new city. Try out these routes to see some of the best to see in Chicago: a leisurely stroll along Michigan Avenue (the “Magnificent Mile”) from the river to the Drake Hotel; a walk through Grant Park to Buckingham Fountain; strolling through the spectacular grounds and across the Frank Gehry-designed bridge of Millennium Park; wandering among the exhibits at the free and charming Lincoln Park Zoo.
5) See the largest…
Chicago lays claim to several superlatives, including the world’s largest convention facility (McCormick Place), largest Tiffany dome (in the Chicago Cultural Center) and the largest public library (Harold Washington Library Center). Its 110-story Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is the second-tallest building in the U.S. and among the top five in the world.
Taste of Chicago
This food extravaganza is the largest free food-and-music festival in the U.S. More than 70 restaurants serve up a variety of dishes from Chicago-style pizzas to international fare. Live music and cooking demonstrations by the city’s top chefs.
More than 130 bands play on nine stages during this annual three-day festival.
Grant Park Music Festival
July & August
Free outdoor classical-music concerts take place throughout the summer at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Chicago Jazz Festival
Acclaimed international jazz musicians perform alongside local Chicago talent on three stages in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St. between Michigan and Columbus avenues.
World Music Festival
International and Chicago-based performers give free and ticketed concerts at this showcase of music from around the world. Also workshops and radio broadcasts.