Chicago, the heart of Illinois, full of life, renowned architecture, world-class museums, endless parks, food from every part of the world, incredible doughnuts and of course the best hot dogs in town! A city that you NEED to visit.
For the first time visiting the United States and Chicago being my first city, I must say it’s certainly set the bar for when I visit more cities over the next few years. The moment you see the city’s skyline driving from the airport into the city is the moment you immediately think this is going to be an unforgettable experience, because I did!
Chicago is a mind-blowing city, full of everything you can think of, literally, so let me give you an insight…
There are a million places to visit and things to do in Chicago!
The city is always buzzing with energy so plan to soak it up, prepare to lose yourself in it but most importantly I’d highly recommend planning your trip before jetting off!
Chicago also boasts some of the best cuisine, attractions, craft breweries, and entertainment in the U.S., including several of the top 100 restaurants in the country, the tallest building in the US with also incredible people and this is why I fell in love with the place.
There are plenty of touristy attractions to do; you can explore the depths of the ocean at the Shedd Aquarium. Catch a fly ball at Wrigley Field. Take in a show at The Chicago Theatre. Ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Free-guided tours and I suggest all animal lovers need to head over to Lincoln Park Zoo, which is FREE entry and offers incredible skyline views within the park.
The main attraction of all touristy destinations is Millennium Park – be sure to snap a photo at this all round beauty piece of Art – it’s one of the city’s most eye-catching pieces of public art. Throughout summer this park has hundreds of FREE outdoor concerts, film screenings and workouts on the parks great lawn. Unfortunately due to the timing of year when I visited I departed when summer officially began, meaning I left on the day the festivals began, I was rather disappointed to say the least.
However, I didn’t miss out on the nightlife and all I suggest, is sleep when you get home. From dance clubs to blues lounges, comedy stages and to craft beers from all over the world, you’ll find it all. Chicago is quite the partying town. The town boasts numerous and endless amount of cocktail culture, as well craft brew scenes, which are also hard to beat. There are endless local, national and international beers, which make the menus at many bars, especially in the local neighbourhoods on the outskirts of town. But if you’re up for a laugh, head to the comedy club, at the second City, where I experienced my first ever comedy night from the traditional stand-up, supported by many acts, and that I can’t remember.
Chicago is also known for a treasure trove for arts and culture. In the heart of the loop, the landmark Chicago Cultural Center is the nation’s first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue – FREE art exhibits, music and dance performances. There are other incredible cultural offerings at Hyde Park Art Centre, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and many more.
But of course, we cannot forget about the FOOD, especially being in the states so I’d highly recommend to not being on a diet whilst you’re out there, I tried, but miserably failed. Be ready to indulge and indulge, prepare yourself to try every cuisine you can think of and be ready to treat your taste buds… the food will do the rest.
The variety of choice you have is ridiculous, from gourmet to street to Italian to Taiwanese! The fusion of food in Chicago is astounding and there are over 5,000 restaurants to dine from. If you’re a pizza lover, then you have to try Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, they’re located all over place and serve the best pizza in town… it’s un-be-lieve-able! When visiting Chicago, you have to eat the top 3 classic foods (so an American told me), one being the deep-dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s obviously), two is the classic hot dog and three, the Italian beef… all three are a must!
After you’ve indulged into the finest foods of Chicago, there’s always room for desert.
The city offers the famous Dunkin Doughnuts which is on every street corner, or if Dunkin Doughnuts fail to disappoint you have Stan’s Doughnuts. There’s also Sweet Mandy B’s who provide the best Chicago’s bakery, along with Chicago’s Waffles serving the most absolutely divine waffles you will ever taste.
Now, the key question after all this is where to stay? Throughout my two-week stay I stayed at the Westin River North Chicago – a 4* hotel, with an exceptional service, picturesque views and a location in the heart of the city, but as you can imagine, this wasn’t cheap. On the budget side I wouldn’t recommend it however, if you’re willing to spend that extra little bit more this is a fantastic hotel to stay in, you will not be disappointed. With the budget in mind, the neighbourhoods are fantastic to stay in too, here’s a list to name a few: Albany Park, Wicker Park (very hipster area), Lake View an area full of bars, artwork, entertainment Wrigleyville the hometown of Chicago Cubs. There’s plenty lavish places to accommodate yourself so best practice is to look out for deals to in the heart of the city.. Secure a place to stay. Book your flights and go and enjoy the city of Chicago