Chicago is one of our favorite towns. It brings back childhood memories of driving in early winter snow to see the holiday windows at Marshall Fields. Or catching the Stones in concert at Soldier Field during college. The Windy City is fun and inviting, with lots to do.
Our typical annual weekend to visit is in October, so our comments will be fall-like.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Museum of Science & Industry – Still my favorite museum in the world with lots to do from watching chickens hatch, walking a 19th century Main Street or touring the U-505 submarine.
Magnificent Mile Shopping – Yes, this is Carole’s favorite. And mine too. It’s often called the Miracle Mile. And it even has its own Web site. But this stretch of Michigan Ave. north of the river is fabulous for shopping and dining.
H&M Department Store – Carole has always enjoyed this Swedish-based department store chain in Europe. Now the company has a presence in the U.S. with a great store at 840 N. Michigan.
Millenium Park – Well, they didn’t quite get the park finished by the Millenium, but it’s open now and it has become a focal point for downtown Chicago. Located at the north end of Grant Park (not far from Buckingham Fountain) it’s flagship attraction is Anish Kapoor’s popular Cloud Gate sculpture, plus the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The tourist thing to do is to take your picture in the reflective Cloud Gate, which doubles as a Geocache.
Bike Chicago – Once you’ve checked off the Cloud Gate, it’s time to rent a bike and cruise the fabulous bike trail along Lakeshore Drive. We recommend heading north to Navy Pier and circling back through Lincoln Park (Zoo) and the Rush Street area (riding not for faint of heart). Bike Chicago has a rental outlet in Millenium Park with easy access to the Lakeshore Trail a block away.
Navy Pier – Navy Pier is one of downtown Chicago’s biggest attractions, with restaurants, rides and other attractions. There’s always a lot going on. Lock your bike and take a ride on the ferris wheel. If you’re there in October, checkout Navy Fear.
Hi Guy – Seriously, as you head north on the Lakeshore Drive trail, watch for Hi Guy. You’ll know him if you see him. He’s a local icon, a serious runner who can often be seen riding his bike along the trail. He’s for real, checkout his Web site or his photos on Flickr.
Lincoln Park – If you’re riding the Lakeshore Drive trail, get off and head inland at Fullerton. Lincoln Park is just a few blocks away. It’s a great zoo. We happened to really love the Canadian geese walking through the park. Head south and be prepared to lock your bikes and walk around the zoo a bit.
Rush Street – This is where you need to be a bit brave on the bike. Or, you can head back over the trail. Personally, I love the challenge of city riding. The Rush Street area really comes alive at night, but in the daytime there’s lots of cool shopping.
Posh Chicago – Posh is a fabulous shop in the 600 block of North State that features an eclectic assortment of vintage goods from old warehouses, steamships, hotels and other sources including dishes, hardware, and more. It’s just a block north of the Weber Grill Restaurant.
Just a few recommendations, but they’re good ones!
Twin Anchors – This is our all time favorite neighborhood restaurant and bar. It’s a roadhouse in the middle of a neighborhood. And the ribs are to die for! OK, the place has been discovered. They even have a Web site. It’s in a neighborhood at 1643 N. Sedgewick, just a short distance north of the Rush Street scene. It’s a super quiet neighborhood. Plan to get there early and wait, downing a few Old Styles until dinner. And don’t even look at the menu, just get a rack of ribs and fries.
Weber Grill Restaurant – OK, so it’s a chain. It’s still really good. It’s in the Rush Street area at 539 N. State.
Corner Bakery – They’re everywhere, but that’s a good thing. Unless you want to do a power breakfast, this is the place for muffins, bagels, coffee and more. It’s an institution. And there’s almost as many as Starbucks.
Plymouth Restaurant – Our Chicago visit is usually to a U.S. Ski Team fundraiser where we stay at The Standard Club on Plymouth Court, near the Federal Building on the south side of the Loop. There had been a burned out old restaurant across the street for many years. In 2006, though, it was refurbished and is open as the Plymouth Restaurant. It’s a great spot for breakfast, lunch or late night dinner.
Billy Goat Tavern – This is it, the origin of the famous Saturday Night Live skit “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger.” And, yes, it still exists. But you have to find it. That part’s not easy. On the north side of the Chicago River, near the Wrigley Building, is an entire underground that is hidden from street level. Just cross the river and head downstairs. You’ll find it.