Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Honeymoon in my Hometown: Chicago

"It’s my kind of town, Chicago is…"

Chicago. I love this city. It makes for a great escape, whether for 3 days or a week. There are things to do and places to see for all types of interests: history, art, food, architecture, beaches and shopping. It is a large city, but has a very manageable feel. Plus, it’s in the Midwest. It’s easily accessible and the people are very friendly! :) Chicago is a city built by its neighborhoods & each has its own vibe and culture.

Where to stay

You can do Chicago pricey or surprisingly inexpensive. The glitz and energy downtown will cost you more, but if you look closely, there are many options that aren’t on Michigan Avenue, but offer a unique experience. When I travel, I like to stay where the “locals” live…to really get a feel for a certain neighborhood.

For an incredible luxury stay in the city, look no further than the Magnificent Mile. The Park Hyatt and the Peninsula Hotel aren’t cheap, but the 5 star service will leave you and your newly betrothed pampered. The rooms are gorgeous and the amenities are indulgent. Try NoMi for a great dinner & views. Also, the gym at the Peninsula boasts many a celebrity sighting.

B&B’s and boutique hotels are sprinkled across the city as well. Lakeview and Lincoln Park are such fun, upbeat neighborhoods & The Willows (off of Broadway) and the Windy City Urban Inn (off Clark St.) will give you a feel of what it’s like to live in Chicago. It also doesn’t hurt that there are a plethora of incredible restaurants and bars at your doorstep :)

Where to eat

Chicago is a foodie haven. First, I’m just going to list some of the best restaurants in the city. For serious gastronomique, go to Alinea, Moto &/or Charlie Trotter’s. Be prepared to pay upwards of $250 per person. But for foodies, it’s worth it. I mean, check out the 27 course menu at Alinea! My personal favorite is Green Zebra. It’s vegetarian friendly, but even serious carnivores rave about this place. The Quiches LOVE this place (& the bars around it for a casual nightcap).

The culinary ART at Alinea

You cannot visit Chicago without having Chicago deep dish pizza. There’s a long standing battle between Pizzeria Uno & Lou Malnati’s about who “invented” deep dish pizza, but who cares?! Both are mouth watering delicious. As are Giordano’s and the lesser known Pizano’s. YUM.

What to do

There are museums aplenty in Chicago. The most popular are the Field Museum, the Art Institute and the Museum of Science & Industry. I also love the Museum of Contemporary Art. On the first Friday of every month, they have…um…First Friday’s (natch) where the museum stays open late, is catered by Wolfgang Puck & you can sip cocktails in between viewing exhibits. All museums have “free” days during the week, which is great!

More free activities include the beaches along Lake Michigan, the numerous parks and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Most people don’t think of the beach when they think of Chicago, but our entire city is lined with them! North Avenue Beach is the most populated during the summer months (think Spring Break all summer long), but is a ton of fun. When you’re done sun bathing, head a few blocks west to the LP Zoo. Again, it’s free every day of the week! Millenium and Grant Parks downtown are also beautiful & have concerts and movies all summer long.

If you’re in to architecture and design, I highly recommend the Architecture boat tour. It winds through the Chicago River and Lake Michigan and offers a wonderful look at the skyline and the history of the city. About an hour west of the city is Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. A must see for design lovers (& I kind of want to live here, except for the fact that it’s in the burbs).

Where to shop

Everywhere! Michigan Avenue and State St. will have your typical shopping with luxury boutiques thrown in as well. Bucktown is the spot for boutique shopping – everything from SCOOP NYC to Marc Jacobs to little vintage shops and record stores. Halsted St. and Armitage Ave. in Lincoln Park also has boutiques (& Paper Source!) aplenty. You can also head south to Chinatown for dim sum and more shopping.

Again, the foundation of Chicago is the neighborhoods. Heading off of the typical tourist path will give you a great idea of what it’s like to live and breathe in this incredible city.

Photo Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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