First time Chicago, a whole week to discover everything my little pocket travel guide could recommend and even more. Being one of the biggest cities in Northern America and famous for its architecture and massive amount of skyscrapers I had a lot to see and discover. Following my travel philosophy: stumble through the city without too much planning and dare to follow your heart even if you don’t know where you end up. In 1 week I used the public transport only twice other than the commute back and forth from the airport. I did a tremendous amount of walking and like in Japan I am really happy I did so.
As it took me so long the last time to write down all the individual discoveries and go through all my pictures I will do a reverse approach this time and start with a list of recommendations and tips with this post and then go through the individual days afterwards in separate posts.
First, try to get a flight over Greenland and hope for good weather like I did. It was breathtaking to see this untouched white landscape from above.
- The subway network has a quite good coverage and if you buy multiple tickets at once it is fairly cheap as well. However, make sure to check on which line your stop is as there are several stops with the same name on different lines (e.g. there is a Grand stop on both the red and the blue line and they are approx. 2 miles apart).
- I stayed in the River North district which is basically an area full of restaurants, bars and shopping possibilities and I think as most sights are around it a strategic position to get around the city with the least walking ways.
- Try a real american diner style breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s. The atmosphere alone is worth a visit but the pancakes are delicious, too.
- You want to enjoy a more classy breakfast in the sun? Take a walk to Lincoln Park and enjoy a homemade blueberry crisp with cinnamon ice cream at The Patio at Café Brauer.
- Donuts? Good donuts? Head to Firecakes and choose among their wide selection. They even had special Chicago Cubs styled ones.
- Of course a good Hot-Dog should be on the list as well. I have to admit I do not fancy the Chicago styled Vienna Hot-Dog. I loved the polish Hot-Dog at Jim’s Original though.
- Looking for good burgers? I recommend the Rocks sports bar in Lake View. The classic was my favourite (yeah I’ve been there more than once).
- Mexican sandwiches? I recommend Cemitas Puebla in the trendy meat market district.
- Another fantastic Mexican place, particularly for tacos and tortillas, is Big Star at Wicker Park.
- You want a relaxed, Mexican vibe coffee place? Head to La Catrina Cafe in Pilsen. They are so hip, they have no website.
- You are more into the European vibes of a French Café? Head to Maison Parisienne where even the barista will charm you with a thick French accent.
- If you like to sit in the sun with a glass of rosé and fresh oysters like I do, then you should also take a trip to Andersonville and visit Ombra.
- Probably the best restaurant I tried on my trip and really worth a visit, is the Peruvian restaurant Tanta. Their food is amazing! If you come for dinner or in a bigger group you should definitely book a table beforehand.
- Another really good restaurant (try the BBQ pulpo) is a “new Asian” restaurant called Sunda. Booking is a must if you don’t want to sit at the bar or wait ages.
- I was amazed by the great selection at Sunda and their love for special ingredients and flavours (e.g. have you ever tried Jalapeño induced gin?).
- It’s probably more the view than the drinks itself but definitely worth a visit. Signature Room is located at the 95th floor of the Hancock building and offers you the view you can see on this posts cover picture.
Music & Culture:
- Chicago is the blues and one of the best live blues clubs is Blue Chicago. Live bands play every evening and if you want a spot to sit you should arrive before the show starts, even on a weekday in October.
- There are a lot of good museums in Chicago but the ones I’ve been and can recommend are Art Institute Chicago, particularly the modern art collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Field Museum of natural history. The latter is surprisingly expensive though. For all three it is worth checking beforehand which exhibitions they have as you might encounter that large areas are inaccessible due to reconstruction of new exhibitions.
Areas to see:
- There are the obvious ones like River North and the Loop, but there are so many other cool areas to walk around.
- Goldcoast and Old town offer both nice beaches, charming restaurants and fancy houses to stare at.
- Lincoln Park with the zoo and parks is a really nice place for a stroll.
- Lake View, Boytown and Wrigleyville have a lot of restaurants, sports bars and small town charm to offer.
- Andersonville, the former Swedish settlement, is a bit further North but worth a trip as the small boutiques, restaurants and Cafés invite you to enjoy yourself.
- The hipper areas Near West Side, Pilsen, and Wicker Park offer trendy restaurants, hip second hand stores and lots of baristas.
I am sure I missed plenty of other stuff but I’ll add it once I had a time to go through all the pictures and days in more detail.