Locals’ Picks in Chicago
July 22, 2011 | Permalink
Chicago is up at the top of travel destinations for business and for families, and for many obvious reasons: the Field Museum, baseball (White Sox and Cubs!), Millennium Park and much more. You certainly don’t want to miss those highlights, but there’s more to what makes Chicago a great place to visit than what is obvious and in the guidebooks. Whether you’re there for only a day or for longer, here are some off-the-beaten-path suggestions from those who know and live in the Windy City.
Get a Little Playtime
Did we mention Da Bears? Baseball? Of course, the Cubs’ Wrigley Field—whether you’re a baseball fan or not—is such an American classic that you don’t want to miss visiting it. But Chicago is also a great city for those who just like to be active themselves, and when locals aren’t vigorously cheering on (or bewailing) one of their teams, one of the great activities is bike rides. Even though you might not think of Chicago as a cyclists’ town, it’s become a popular pastime, both for weekend afternoon jaunts and for serious cyclists. The Chainlink is a locally run resource for biking enthusiasts, and it provides information and links for routes, themed rides and other resources. The site offers an iPhone interface, too.
Get a Little Nature
You’ll naturally want to visit both Lincoln and Millennium Parks, as well as the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium, but for a more community-centered focus on nature, take a stroll through some of the community gardens, like those in the Prairie District, on Ravenswood near Foster and off Sacramento and Logan Blvd. In summer and early fall, these hidden gems are filled with vegetables and flowers, and they often have benches where you can just relax and watch the lazy butterflies and bumblebees.
And if conservation and sustainability is part of your nature appreciation, take a stroll by the Helenowski Residence on Chicago’s northwest side (corner of Ravenswood and Ainsle). The owner-remodeled home was awarded the most LEED points ever given (119.5 out of 136).
For beautiful sunsets and evening views, the city of Chicago has many harbors along Lake Michigan, especially Montrose Harbor. Regardless of where you choose to view them, Chicago’s sunsets will take your breath away as you capture images in your mind when both the city and the sky collide.
Get a Bite to Eat
Of course, the culinary part of any visit to Chicago has to include a big slice of deep-dish pizza and an Italian beef sandwich. For brunches, two local recommendations are Broadway Grill and M Henry (Argyle Street). Like most major cities, Chicago also has little gems of international cuisine, like Pho Viet and Tank in Little Vietnam (in Uptown). Lulu’s (actually just a few miles north, in Evanston, near Northwestern University) has a fantastic dim sum brunch. For your sweet tooth, try out the Guatemalan pastries at Markello’s Bakery in Albany Park. A small neighborhood shop that is open 24 hours, they make it easy to just give in to temptation. Just grab one of the metal baskets, and fill ‘er up with authentic, fresh churros, empanadas and sweet Guatemalan bread. But be warned: the challenge will be making it back to your hotel with any leftover for breakfast the next morning.
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