The Second City, the Windy City, the City by the Lake, City of Big Shoulders; the list of nicknames goes on. Chicago is many things. On one hand it is a big, brawny city with World class architecture, food, and culture. Its spectacular skyline even more dramatic in contrast to the flatness of the surrounding farmland and lake. Its population is amazingly diverse, coming from all corners of the globe. But, at the same time Chicago is known as being the most “American” of big cities. Its’ people move quickly, but mostly manages to maintain a Midwestern friendliness. Whether for a quick weekend escape, or a longer stay, Chicago usually exceeds visitors’ expectations.
In 1840 Chicago only had about 4,500 inhabitants. By 1890 it had over 1,000,000. During this time the city suffered setbacks, such as the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, but it always bounced back bigger and better than before. This period of rapid growth and rebirth attracted some of the World’s most talented architects. The works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Mies Van Der Rohe are still well represented around town. To this day, Chicago remains an international center of architecture. If you visit before January 7, 2018 you will be able to experience the second annual Chicago Architecture Biennial. This celebration of design features exhibits, speakers and tours throughout the city.
Chicago contains some of the World’s best museums. The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum of Natural History, The Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium are rightfully renowned. But, there are several others that are worth a visit and/or cater to a specific audience. We like the Smart Museum of Art for its small size, but wide-ranging collection. We also like the Oriental Institute for its impressive collection of near Eastern artifacts and art. Both museums are on the University of Chicago Campus in Hyde Park, and are free. There is also the Leather Archives and Museum in Rogers Park which was created by the founder of the International Mister Leather competition. If you prefer to stay outdoors you can still see Chicago’s public art collection. The plazas of the Loop (downtown) are filled with works by Picasso, Calder, Chagall, Miro, Oldenburg, and others.
While the Loop and Magnificent Mile are always worth a visit, Chicago really comes alive in its neighborhoods. Boystown, in Lakeview, is still the epicenter of gay nightlife. It is also filled with shops and restaurants that you could spend a day exploring. Further north is Andersonville. Originally a Swedish, then lesbian, neighborhood; it is now known for being accepting of, and popular with, all people. It contains the second highest concentration of gay bars in town and an abundance of independently owned shops. There are simply too many neighborhoods to mention in any detail (Chicago has 77 distinct neighborhoods). But, whether your taste runs from artistic, bohemian, ultrachic, working class, or for any ethnic group; Chicago probably has a neighborhood that suits you.
Food is another reason to visit Chicago. With so many cultures and creativity in the city, all food types are represented. Enjoy an unforgettable, 3-star Michelin experience at Alinea or Grace. These are crazily expensive, but less than you would spend for 3-stars in many other cities. Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, and Italian Beef sandwiches. You don’t need a fat wallet for any of these, although you may end up heavy if you eat these every day. All these favorites help get Chicagoans through the brutal winters. Finally, be sure to experience the ethnic treats that are found in many neighborhoods. Polish, Indian, Mexican, Greek, Vietnamese, Serbian, and many other styles of cuisine are well represented.
If Chicago sounds like it may be your kind of town, give us a call at 619-324-1444 extension 3. We would love to tell you more and help you plan your trip to this, or any other, fabulous destination. Happy Thanksgiving from Purple Light Vacations!