Chicago is a best kept secret. I’m fairly convinced that if it were summer year round in Chicago, everyone would live there. No one would ever leave. I have never so quickly and unexpectedly fallen in love with a city as I did Chicago last summer. I really didn’t see it coming.
Long ago, I had passed through Chicago. I had attended business meetings in the suburbs of Chicago. I had watched Oprah, recorded from her studio in Chicago, for years. I had wondered why she lived there when she could live anywhere she wanted.
My past image of Chicago was this: rough and tumble inner city, gangsters, corruption, some nice neighborhoods around it, wind and miserable weather. But the truth is downtown Chicago in the summertime is paradise.
Have you seen the color of Lake Michigan along the Monroe Harbor? Sublime. Grant Park and its regal Buckingham Fountain are found along the lake’s shore and are perfectly manicured, lush, and welcoming. It’s a place where you’ll see folks on their lunch breaks, walkers, joggers, moms with strollers, and tourists galore. It is alive with activity and blissfully peaceful all at the same time.
There must be a half dozen bonafide upscale shopping districts in downtown Chicago. Just when you think you’ve seen the best of Chicago, turn a corner and there’s more. Chicago Dogs are legit. And Chicago-Style Pizza is surprisingly different and amazingly fantastic. So. Much. Cheese.
When you plan your trip to Chicago, stay at the Congress Plaza Hotel and ask for a room above the third floor with a view of the fountain. From there you can walk almost anywhere you want to go, but Uber is also available and quick. We took the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour and ended up circling through twice we loved it so much. You can purchase tickets and catch the bus just a couple blocks from the hotel in front of the Hilton on Michigan Avenue.
We got off the bus at Shedd Aquarium (which was fantastic and the cafe offers stunning views of the city) and also at Portillo’s (which is not to be missed – try the Italian Beef Sandwich). From the bus you can plan many stops including the Navy Pier and the bean (Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park.
Chicago has a colorful and interesting history. You will see lovely and remarkable architecture in Chicago. The city is well planned and this is a story in and of itself. It’s an iconic city in our nation and well worth the visit. In fact, summer is coming! Excuse me while I plan my next trip.