How to Have a Great Time in Chicago

time in Chicago
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How to Have a Great Time in Chicago

Remove the Stigma and Take a Full 360-View of Chicago!

Movies, TV series, books, and other sources of commonplace rhetoric have probably left you with the impression that Chicago is the roughest and toughest city in the world, that puts the naive in danger and flushes your safety down the drain. Mainstream media may have even played a role in convincing you to completely remove Chicago from your bucket list. Please do not turn a blind eye to this misunderstood and very beautiful city! In fact, “Chicago ranks among the country’s top tourist destinations” (Britannica, 2019). So, here’s an article that’ll put Chicago right back onto your list because I feel that all you need is to know when and where to go to have a great time in Chicago! There are plenty of great things to do in Chicago. Come. Let’s take a look!

The city of Chicago is packed with beautiful landscapes, breathtaking sights, safe havens for creatures of the land and sea, and flavorful American food. Now, before I present to you the full view of Chicago, let us see the city at a bird’s eye view before we swoop down and explore what the city should be known for. It is high time that Chicago is seen less as ‘that dangerous city’ and more as ‘the best of what America has to offer’.

I. All About Chicago (Physically)

If you are so worried about visiting Chicago, then did you know that President Barack Obama still owns at least one house he used to live in, in Chicago, from prior to living in Washington D.C.? That’s not all, though! It is also said that his fire for justice for his race and to become a lawyer ignited in Chicago (Nelson, M., 2019). If all that could happen, wouldn’t you want to see what he saw yourself? If you’re not much of an activist but more or an ‘enjoy life’ kind of guy, fear not as the 2,694,240 residents of Chicago (World Population Review, 2020) enjoy the very American cuisine and bask in the glory of their city’s skyline, famous landscapes, bustling Loop city, cultural, timely and modern museums, high-end to homey to cultural restaurants and food stores, natural reserves for land and sea creatures and plants, and all-day-round travel options.

II. Parts of the City of Chicago

The city of Chicago is divided up into four different areas namely the north, the south, the west, and the loop. And remember, just because it is the city does not mean it is the only tourist-spot of the city (if that makes sense)! More on this, later…

The North Side of Chicago – Blessed with Nature and Attractions (and Tourists!)

Near North Side of Chicago
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When you hear people say that Chicago is their hometown, they usually refer to this area – the North, because it holds more than half of the city’s population. Even the city’s most populated town is Lakeview at the North with 97,804 residents. Not only is it thriving with residents, it’s stacking up 20 million tourists per year! And it’s not because of the fact that it’s the most populated area in the city.

The North has a variety of attractions and towns that tourists just want to explore. These are the The Magnificent Mile, Streeterville, River North, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Uptown, Andersonville, Edgewater, and Rogers Park. Of course, not all the attractions of Chicago are here at the North, but there is no denying that for a suburban area, it’s not too shabby.

The Downtown West Loop – The Food Destination

Downtown West Loop Chicago
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Now, if you are the kind of traveler that is in search of a place packed with diversity, culture, food and art, the West Chicago is the place to be. It has diverse communities of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Polish, Italians, Czechs and Greeks. It has museums of American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Ukrainian and Polish history and culture. There are a wide variety of parks from greenhouses to teenage hangouts to the usual park with grass and trees.

For those who would pick theatre over the movies any day would squeal in glee when they find out that the West Loop has theater for different tastes (i.e. hip and modern, classical, elegant, etc.). And what better way is there to know a culture but through its church? There are plenty of churches that are spacious, majestic, and infested with ribbed vaults.

According to TripAdvisor, the top three churches in the West are Old St. Patrick’s Church, St. John Cantius Church, and Holy Family Catholic Church. If you plan to stay in the Downtown West Loop for a while, most of the best hotels are in the West Loop such as the Hyatt House Chicago and the Hampton by Hilton Chicago Downtown West Loop. As for their food and restaurants, we might have to reserve a whole paragraph for it.

When I said Chicago is a food destination, I was referring to the Restaurant Row- a mile-long stretch on Randolph Street with rows of restaurants and diners, pizza and chicken joints, sandwich shops, lounges, and everything in between. Its food and dining experiences are so diverse, high-quality and famous that it is deemed as one of the best dining experiences in Chicago (Tamarkin, D., 2013). I will save the rest of the details in ‘The Taste of Chicago’ section. For now, let us move on to the next area of the city.

The South Side of Chicago – The Place with a Little Bit of Everything

South Side of Chicago Hyde Park
Image Source: wsdevelopment.com

The South Side of Chicago is very rich with history. The South Side, as the subheading indicates, has one of Chicago’s best architecture, parks, beaches, restaurants, and cultural institutions that will make sure to fit anyone’s travelling wants. This area has multiple races like African Americans, Mexicans, Polish and Latinos. If you want a department store, all your buying needs is along Commercial Street (the name is very fitting don’t you think?).

Note that both the West Side and South Side of Chicago are both known to have some dangerous neighborhoods and areas, so remember to be cautious when travelling around these parts (and really anywhere else in the world).

The Loop – The Hustle and Bustle of the City

The Loop in Chicago
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You have every right to ask why a place in Chicago is called the ‘Loop’. Well, if you are thinking metaphorically of luxurious city that keeps you in the ‘loop’ of city folks, or if you are thinking physically of a literal loop around a place of high-rise buildings, you guessed correctly as both of them are true! The Loop is covered by a loop of elevated train tracks which seem to officially act as a sort of boundary from this condensed urban city to the rest of the suburban and rural areas of Chicago.

This place regularly serves tourists that come for business so if you are looking for a place to eat cheap, you might want to steer clear from this place. However, if money is no object to you or if you just enjoy the finer things in life, then you will not be let down as they are plenty of restaurants with Michelin stars, luxurious hotels and plenty of stores and shops to spend, spend, spend! As of 2020, the Loop has 25 Michelin star restaurants. Some of the restaurants are Alinea with three Michelin stars, Smyth with two stars, and Oriole also with two stars (Selvam et al).

Just by the look of their top-notch dishes that look like a piece of art work themselves, your taste buds will be tickled and your eyes will have to sense a range of colors on a plate, and your mind will feel deceived asking if you just entered a restaurant or an art museum. While the top three hotels in the Loop based on reviews are the Virgin Hotels Chicago, the Palmer House a Hilton Hotel and the Chicago Athletic Association [See Figures 1.1 and 1.2 in the Appendix to see ranking of hotels in the Loop, Chicago]. So, get ready to be pampered, to unwind and to empty your wallet.

However, if you still insist on staying at the Loop under a budget, you can still have a great time in Chicago! The northern part of the Loop and its nightlife might be best for you. In this part of town, there are plenty of bars that sell at a lower cost because there are would likely be fewer people at this place and time. But like anywhere else, please be cautious and aware of your surroundings when you do go at night. 

III. Getting Around Chicago Through the “L”

Getting Around Chicago Through the "L"
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No, I did not forget to spell out the rest of the word! ‘L’, or officially known as the Chicago Elevated, is one great way to travel the city at a measly cost of $2.50 for adults, and $1.25 for children and senior citizens! What a steal! But hold your horses! You can actually save even more money by purchasing the ‘Unlimited-Ride Passes’ for both train and bus fares which ranges from $10 to $105 for the whole day, for three days, for a week, or even for a whole month (30 days)! If you think that’s great news, wait until I tell you their timings. They are open 24 hours a day for 7 days a week! Yes, they have a ‘Night Owl Service’ that allows the train to run overnight!

If you are still worried about your safety even inside this elevated train system, the Chicago Train Authority has done everything in their power to ensure you a safe travel and commute. If you still feel any unusual and dangerous activity when in the L, you can use the rail car intercoms, station platform call buttons or speak directly to bus operators to inform CTA personnel.

If you want the full information on the L and its fare costs, train tickets, safety guidelines, service overview, and night owl service, click to download the L’s brochure below:

https://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/6/ctamap_OwlService.pdf

The L’s rail train system is not your regular train tracks that are straight or go in a full loop. In fact, the rail routes are all, with the exception of three routes, connected by at the Loop and then spread outward in different directions reaching different places and areas of Chicago. If you look at it through a different perspective, it looks like a bunch of colorful veins and arteries that are spread out in the human body but are all connected to the heart (i.e. the Loop).

If you want to check out the train rail system map, you can download it by clicking the link below:

https://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/6/ctamap_Lsystem.pdf

IV. The Beauty of Chicago

The Beauty of Chicago
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Chicago may be an urban and suburban city, but that did not stop them from having 600 parks, 500 playgrounds, 70 nature and bird sanctuaries, 307 fields for soccer, football, lacrosse and more, 250 field houses, 534 tennis courts and 6 indoor courts, 80 swimming pools, 29 beaches, and 26 miles of open lakefront. I think it is safe to say that Chicago knows how to balance out the metropolitan area by creating places with natural reserves, and places of productivity, leisure and entertainment.

Chicago
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Now, I know you don’t have the time to read about every single one of these places that make up the beauty of Chicago, but you will be able to grasp the idea of Chicago through some of their famous bodies of water, stadiums, and parks which is just the tip of the ice berg.

Soldier Field – In Honor of Our Fallen Soldiers in WWI

Soldier Field
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Located at 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, this gigantic stadium was built in 1924 which makes it one of the oldest arenas of the NFL. It was previously called the Grant Park Municipal Stadium. It underwent a major renovation starting 2001. Almost everything was updated and replaced except for the neoclassical shelf which is serves as a remnant of the history of Soldier Field.

By the end of construction in 2003, the bill soared up to $690 million. Although the local and state authorities had good intentions in renovating the stadium, the locals and visitors did not take it well as the new seats did not match the stadium exterior, and the seating capacity was not met because it lacked 8,500 seats from the promised 70,000. The worse news of all was that the stadium lost its title of National Historic Landmark in 2006 because of that very renovation.

Now, let us stop dwindling in the past and see which events will take place in the stadium. As of August 2020, there will be (1) performances of Led Zeppelin 2 and Ekali among many others, (2) drive-in movies like Avengers: Infinity War, Madagascar, and Ghostbusters, and (3) sports competitions like the soccer event of the Chicago Fire FC against the FC Cincinnati and the football event of the Chicago Bears versus the New York Giants. But that’s not all the Soldier Field has to offer.

It can let you host events by renting out the first or third floors of the United Club, the Skyline Suites, the Colonnades, The Midway, the South Parking Lot Festival Area, the Parkland Area, and the Stadium Field itself! You can also negotiate the catering and menus, your preferred vendors on their list (which can be seen in their website at https://soldierfield.net/preferred_vendor_list), and talk to the sales and marketing staff.

For those who just want to visit Soldier Field without really wanting to wait for or host an event, you still can take the exclusive VIP Tour of Soldier Field, a 15 minute on-field experience, and a behind-the-scenes view of the video control room, which has the following stops:

  • Visitor’s Locker Room
  • Visitor’s Interview Room
  • The Skyline Suite is the executive suite that overlooks the field, Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
  • The Colonnades which are the original columns from 1924. The only difference is it is now lit up with multi-colored LED lights.
  • The Doughboy Statue that represents a World War I infantryman who was holding a rifle with his left hand and a grenade raised to the sky with the other whilst being covered with stumps and barbed wire, his rifle in one hand and a grenade held high in the other. What’s the whole story? That is for me to know and you to find out.
  • The South Courtyard where fans gather before and after an event. It has a garden terrace setting and benches lined up against the South Concourse wall with relief images of leaves that represent the fallen soldiers. The stadium was renamed to Solider Field in 1925 to honor the U.S. soldiers who had died in World War I.
  • And of course, the 100 yards of Real Kentucky Blue Grass – the Field.

Now that you have just read all that there is to know about the place, the first thing you think about when driving up to Soldier Field is, “Where do I park?” and then eventually, “Is there even enough parking space to house all the vehicles of all the people occupying the seats of the stadium?” Fortunately, I’m here to reassure you that they have the North Garage, South Parking Lot, Waldron Parking Deck, East Museum Lot, Alder Planetarium Lot, and Burnham Harbor Lot that are accessible from the stadium.

If you are still a bit unsure of attending the events, hosting events or taking the stadium tour in Solider Field, you can check out their mobile application available for iOS (which can be downloaded by clicking on this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soldier-field/id1005103757?mt=8) and Android (which can be downloaded by clicking on this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soldier-field/id1005103757?mt=8). If you prefer sending an email, leave them an inquiry to their email address: TOURS@SOLDIERFIELD.NET. If you are not that much of a technology-fan and prefer inquiring and taking the traditional approach, you can call them by dialing (312) 235-7000.

Wrigley Field – Watching Baseball Games in Style

Wrigley Field
Image Source: midwestliving.com

Unlike the multi-purpose Solider Field, this is a park only caters to baseball games and tournaments. But similar to Solider Field, Wrigley Field holds a title as one of the oldest Major League Baseball parks in the U.S. Although it does not have a wide range of events, it is proudly the home of the Chicago Cubs. Located at 1060 W. Addison St., this baseball park was built in 1914 within the span of only 2 months at the cost of a quarter million dollars. Wrigley Field was first named as Weeghman Park after the owner Charles Weeghman. It was then named the Cubs Park in 1920 by the new owner- William Wrigley, Jr. But he then changed his mind in 1926 and decided to call it the Wrigley Field.

Since it is their offseason until further notice due to the pandemic, the individual tours only provides a one-hour tour of the Visitors’ clubhouse, Cubs’ dugout, Field, American Airlines 1914 Club, Maker’s Mark Barrel Room, and The W Club. While the VIP Tour for large groups is a trip through the Friendly Confines with a personal tour guide and a visit from a former Cub who will share stories about his time at the place. But when the games, tournaments and season does continue, you might want to read the next paragraph.

If you are tired of the same old bleachers in stadium to stadium, you can choose the Single Game Suites, Legends Suite, American Airlines 1914 Club, Maker’s Mark Barrel Room, The W Club, Catalina Club, CREE Lighting Club, Fannie May Bleacher Sweet, Budweiser Patio, LG Porch, or Hornitos Hacienda to get a view of the field and game within the confines of a luxurious suite, a premier room, or an open-air and exclusive, uncrimped seating which is up close to the field.

Before you turn away and say you are not into sports, you might be interested in watching your favorite artists and bands perform at Wrigley Field! Yes, world famous celebrities like Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Guns and Roses, and others are taking centerstage at Wrigley Field. Find your favorite artists and buy a ticket at https://www.mlb.com/cubs/tickets/concerts/ to catch their performance.

And here we now are at the end of the description of Wrigley Field. That means it is prime time to talk about your parking-needs. Here is a list of parking places:

  • Free Remote Parking for all night and weekend games which is located at 3900 N. Rockwell St.
  • Toyota Camry Lot, formerly known as the Green Lot is for Season Parking Holders at Game Day Cash Lot which is located at 1126 W. Grace St.
  • Toyota RAV4 Lot, formerly known as the Brown Lot is for Season Parking Holders which is located at 1140 W. Eddy St.
  • Irving Park Lot for Season Parking Holders, Combo at Game Day which is located at 1052 Irving Park Rd.

If you get lost or if you need to find a vacant parking spot, you can ask the Cubs’ personnel in and around the area, you can download and check out their map by clicking on this link: http://content.mlb.com/documents/2/0/8/305508208/CUBS_2019_ParkingMap.pdf, or you can call (773)-388-8270 and ask for more information on “ADA Parking.”

Lake Michigan – 2nd Largest Out of the 5 Great Lakes of North America

It may be the 2nd largest based on volume at 4,920 cubic kilometers, it is the 3rd largest by surface area at 57,800 square kilometers, and the only one that is completely within the U.S. You may be wondering what a lake called Lake Michigan is doing at Chicago. Well, if you must know, this large volume and lengthy lake is surrounded by Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Chicago has the southern end of the lake. The name is actually named from the Algonquian Indian term michigami, or misschiganin, which means “big lake” — shocker!

Now, that the facts are set laid out, what fun activities can you do at Lake Michigan? Lucky for you I have the answer on this this list right here:

  • Watch the fireworks every Wednesday at 9:30pm and every Saturday night at 10:15pm at the Navy Pier or the Fullerton beach for free. But for a better view of the fireworks, you must be at Navy Pier.
  • Go on a lunch or dinner cruise along the Chicago shoreline. Lunch on the cruise would be cheaper than dinner time. But of course, dinner on a cruise would be the ultimate romantic date.
  • Drink at Castaways on North Avenue Beach. It is a bar designed to look like a boat but is firmly rooted on dry, solid land. But from the distance, it looks like a fun ship that’s ready to go to cruise.
  • Rent a boat and stay at the play pen – an entire portion of the lake dedicated for boats to anchor and party.
  • Rent a jet ski and, well, go jet-skiing.
  • Shoreline sightseeing at E Grand Avenue 600 E Grand Avenue.
  • Ride the Seadog Cruise at Navy Pier 600 E. Grand Avenue. You can choose the calm 75-minute river and lake architectural tour, the 30-minute speedboat lake tour, or the Seadog Extreme that not only goes 30% faster that the regular speedboat but also does 180 to 360 degree turns. 
  • I am pretty sure that there are not of lakes that can fit all these activities on and around it.

Brookfield Zoo – There’s No Limit When It Comes to the Exhibits. …Hey, that rhymes!

Opened in 1934, it now has more than 2000 animals and educated and inspired many more visitors than that. It even has an accredited arboretum, which basically is a living museum of showcasing trees and woody plants. This zoo promotes events and caters your special events like birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, and even weddings! So, what’s so great about this place?

Let’s just say that Brookfield Zoo’s event exists to both conserve and impress. I’m talking about the latest “Dinos Everywhere” exhibit and the upcoming Zoo Run virtual marathon to support the Chicago Zoological Society Animal Care and Conservation Fund. Since this 216-acre zoo is one the property of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, most of the zoo and its exhibits are open-air, making the place more spacious that it seems. The exhibits of Brookfield Zoo are the following:

  • Australia House exhibits the native animals of Australia.
  • Hamill Family’s Wild Encounters is an exhibit that allows visitors of all ages to pet and feed the animals. This exhibit exchanged the old Children’s Zoo exhibit.
  • Feather and Scales exhibits the lush rain forest habitat of tropical birds.
  • Reptiles and Birds exhibit the reptiles and birds of Asia and South America. This exhibit replaced the old Perching Bird House exhibit.
  • Fragile Desert exhibits the animals of North Africa.
  • Fragile Hunters exhibits small predator animals of the rainforest and desert. This exhibit replaced the historic Lion House exhibit.
  • Great Bear Wilderness exhibits the famous North American animals like the polar bear, grizzly bear, and bald eagle.
  • Habitat Africa! The Savannah exhibits the animals of the African Savannah.
  • Hoofed Animals exhibits animals like the Addax, Bactrian Camel, Grevy’s Zebra, and Przewalski’s Horse.
  • The Living Coast exhibits tanks full of corals and sea creatures.
  • Pachyderm House exhibits pygmy hippos, tapirs and rhinos.
  • Regenstein Wolf Woods exhibits Mexican Grey Wolves and their habitats.
  • Salt Creek Wilderness exhibits the Indian Lake, the Ellen Thorne Smith nature trail, and a demonstration wetland called Dragonfly Marsh.
  • Seven Seas exhibits the amazing dolphins and what they can do.
  • The Swamp exhibit depicts a southern cypress swamp and an Illinois river scene with animals of the Wetlands.
  • Tropic World exhibits monkeys, primates and other animals from South America, Asia, and Africa.

To go to these exhibits and raise your own awareness about the need for making a difference for species across the globe, you can either go to the North Gate Main Entrance at 8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street) or the South Gate Main Entrance at 3300 Golf Rd. But hold your horses, you first need to pay for a ticket and reservation, and even a parking fee if you plan on driving to the zoo, in advance. This can be done by paying online at their website, https://www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Tickets/Online-Ticketing/Online-Ticketing-Not-Member. But, if you are already a Brookfield Zoo Member, pay for your ticket at https://www.czs.org/OnlineTicketingMembers. Although they are open every day, still check their website at https://www.czs.org/Info or call (708) 688-8000 because their opening and closing hours always vary after a month.

Lincoln Park Zoo – One of the Oldest Zoos in the U.S.

Lincoln Park Zoo is a part of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. It has under 200 animal species from around the world safely showcased in exhibits and has more than 1,200 plant species situated in their 49-acre landscape. As their website states, “nature isn’t just an escape, but the priority,” which everyone should know. Their aim is to care and conserve the animals and plant species while creating a community and connecting the community together through the first two aims (2020). While not the largest zoo in the world, it IS quite impressive!

All you cheapskates get dressed to make your way to this zoo as the help of the zoo members, donors and visitors made Lincoln Park Zoo free and open to the public for 150 years and counting. However, with the impacts of the pandemic, everyone is now required to make online reservations online at http://www.lpzoo.org/visit/book-your-visit to have a free admission to the zoo.

The Lincoln Park Zoo has many age-appropriate educational programs, and it is known for its variety of daily activities and occasional events. You can choose to take part in the daily activities, events, or even your own planned private event!

The zoo’s daily activities start at 10:15am with the Seal Training. At 11:15am, there is the Polar Bear Training and Enrichment. By 11:30am, you can learn about Monkey Cognition and Care through touchscreen computers. After a long lunch break, the Ape Cognition and Care activity starts at 1:30pm. An hour later, the Free-flight Feeding activity starts at the Free-flight exhibit. As you can see, daily activities aim to get visitors to interact with and be a part of nature and animals.

As for events, these aim to educate the community and bring them together. The current and upcoming events of Lincoln Park Zoo have taken a digital approach as most of them are done virtually. As of August 2020, the available events include:

To pay for the admission of and take a closer look at their events, visit their website calendar at https://www.lpzoo.org/calendar-events/. I advise that you constantly check this website because they keep it up to date. Hence, any changes, refunds and new events will turn up at their events calendar.

If you plan on visiting the zoo multiple times, you might want to purchase and become a Member of Lincoln Park Zoo to get great discounts on rides, visiting attractions, and events. If you want to visit the park right away, go to 2001 N Clark St, Chicago. But remember to get a ticket online in advance, do not bring any alcohol, tobacco and cannabis to the zoo, and do not bring your pets with the exception of service animals. If you have any further questions, I’ll leave this phone number (312)-742-2000 and leave the rest to the officials of the zoo!

Grant Park – Parks, Aquariums and Attractions Within a Two-Century Old Park

What better way to represent the beauty of Chicago but with the centerpiece attraction of Chicago? This park was created in 1835 in fear of the ever-growing commercial buildings in the area. The park was supposed to claim a piece of late free from the black smoke of industrialization and the reeking stench of capitalism. Today, it is a multi-million-dollar funded park.

This 312.98-acre public park at the Loop is known as “Chicago’s Front Yard” mainly because this is no ordinary park with trees, pathways, and streetlamps. It is even compared to New York’s Central Park. It has plenty of areas for productivity like baseball diamonds and tennis courts, for admiring art works and structures sprawled all over the park, and for fun and occasional activities and events like the Taste of Chicago food and music festival, the Lollapalooza outdoor music festival, and the Chicago marathon. Grant Park consists of:

  • Maggie Daley Park,
  • Buckingham Fountain,
  • Congress Plaza,
  • Petrillo Music Shell,
  • Museum Campus,
  • Art Institute of Chicago,
  • Hutchinson Field,
  • Chicago Lakefront Trail,
  • Marinas and Harbors, and
  • The Skate Park in Grant Park.
visit The Bean on your next Chicago vacation
Image Source: chicago.curbed.com

The northwestern portion of Grant Park was renovated between 1998 and 2004 from old train tracks to what is now called as the Millennium Park. I would like to call this section of the Grant park as the artistic wonderland by architects and artists. Millennium Park has popular attractions which are the premier outdoor Amphitheatres- Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the architecturally designed Cloud Gate, the shallow Crown Fountain with two 50-foot towers projecting video images of Chicago citizens’ faces, and the Lurie Garden which is an urban oasis.

One of the notable parts in this sub-park is the Cloud Gate, or ‘The Bean’ (because of its bean-like shape). It is like giant droplet of metallic liquid, liquid mercury to be exact. Its polished stainless-steel exterior mirrors the buildings and visitors of surrounding it. Hence, making it the most photographed attractions in Chicago. But with all this fuss and commotion, the Cloud Gate has a cleaning crew that comes twice a day to give it a thorough polish and buff, and a maintenance crew that wipes off smudges and fingerprints. As for the interior, it does not look as advanced and futuristic as it does on the outside.

Inside, it is full of wooden frames and beams that was first put in place to build the exterior. So, for a “ohh” and “ahh” experience, go to the exterior of the Cloud Gate. But enter inside if you want to see and feel the power and lengths of man and the human mind. Did you know that the creators of this marvel stated that it will remain standing until 3006. That is another “Millennium” of being cleaned, taken pictures of, and basking in its glory inside the Millennium Park.

The Shedd Aquarium
Image Source: troopcontracting.com

Now this aquarium is no regular tourist attraction that takes your money for a quick buck. The Shedd Aquarium aims to educate the public to get them to either take an action or influence them to change their attention towards the safety of the aquatic animals. And to make the public care for these cute, fragile and extraordinary creatures, they utilize exhibits, experiences and interactive programs and events that allow the visitors to learn about, talk to, and experience these water-based creatures. I think I’m going to need to write up an entirely separate article on The Shedd Aquarium. Look for that to come, later.

When in the Shedd Aquarium, you can have an interactive experience with the animals – and yes, that means touching them, feeding them and more – , watch and enjoy the live performances these talented, water-breathing sea creatures, and even have a conversation with them! So, remember to brush up on your English proficiency and social skills before you plan your visit at Shedd Aquarium.

The animals that we are taking about can be seen and found all over the world, from the deep and cold grips of the Pacific to the small creatures found in your backyard pond. You can either see these aquatic animals from behind a glass partition, from barred barriers, from the bleachers, from a kayak, and even inside their habitats alongside them like what you can do in the Polar Play Zone and the Stingray Touch. But it does not end there. You can be a trainer for a day, propose to your significant other in some of the exhibits, and join the 4D experience of nature.

Of course, this aquarium with a good purpose treats their visitors with accompanying casual dining experiences and souvenir shops that will allow you and/or your kids to take a small (or even big) reminder of the animals and experiences of the aquarium home with you. By casual dining, I meant cafés, restaurants with grilled and local food, family food court with Chicago-styled food such as the Italian beef sandwich and all-beef hot dogs, the Marine Munchroom with rows of vending machines, hand-food and snack vendors inside exhibits.

However, if you prefer to bring your own food, that would be no problem as they provide the Marine Munchroom for visitors to dine with outside food. Just make sure not to litter or drop any food inside exhibits or worse, the habitats of and areas with the aquatic animals.

If you want to experience the aquarium at home first, you can join their programs and events that promote their “Stay At Home with Shedd” advocacy and promote educating the world and the students about earth’s aquatic animals, their habitats, their needs, and the help they need from us.  This way, you the Shedd Aquarium can achieve their aim even outside the physical venue. But of course, touring around and through their physical venue will give you whole other experience than that brought to your digital screens.

Their programs and events are categorized based on the age group to catch, latch and maintain any and all visitors’ attention all through their visit. So, do not think that this place is only for kids and children on their fieldtrip as the Shedd Aquarium has it all figured out. They have specific activities for the youth, teenagers, adults and families, aside from the ‘At Home’ programs and events.

Now, do not think that these programs are just mere walking and touring trips because what you will be in for is visiting the fishes with a life vest and snorkel, rowing on a kayak, digging your hands into the soil for a paid internship, help cleaning the environment of the aquatic life, in-service teaching, practicing yoga within the lush and calming habitats of the animals, and the list goes on!

Simply put, The Shedd Aquarium has something for everyone.

Unfortunately, you cannot just barge into this aquarium for a visit. You need to either order the tickets online at https://www.sheddaquarium.org/purchase_mode_sessions/new or plan a visit online at https://www.sheddaquarium.org/plan-a-visit. Once you have successfully secured a spot on the visitor’s list, you can then make your way to 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

To visit this lengthy list of artistic and awing attractions, parks and museums of Grant Park, go to Columbus Drive, Chicago. And don’t worry about scheduling your outing that much because it is open every day from 6am early in the morning until 11pm late at night. But make sure to have a map of Grant Park, physical or digital, to maximize your visiting hours and experience it all!

V. The Wonders of Chicago

the wonders of Chicago
Image Source: blogger.com

A building here, a tower there, and lots of skyscrapers everywhere! If you are a traveler that wants to cruse pass buildings that require you to tilt and bend your neck backwards, Chicago has plenty for you to be left with sore and stiff neck by the end of the day. But this city is not all steel structures and concrete. It has cultural and art museums, leisure spaces, relaxing venues, natural parks and landscapes, and a wide variety of cuisines to enjoy.

Chicago Skyline – Chicago: “We Invented Them”

Chicago skyline
Image Source: rajbose.net

Chicago’s towering buildings of different shapes, super structures, famous architects, and pristine designs. In fact, Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper! In the past, Chicago had the ingredients to developing the urban scene rapidly as the economic and city maintenance was just thriving. This led to more residents, businesses, and economical and developmental growth. However, in 1871, the city burned to ashes because of a rapid fire which left many homeless, dead, and the city in an economic downfall.

Fortunately, the Chicagoans did not lose hope. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, tall and fire-proof buildings started shooting from the ground up and stairs were a thing of the pass. And it all started with the first skyscraper in the world- The Home Insurance Building on the corner of Adams and LaSalle Streets in 1885 (History.com, 2010).

Before we go on to the specific buildings that I boasted, let me ask you: do you know what the future looks like? Vista Tower, One Chicago, 1000M, Bank of America Tower, Saleforce Tower, BMO Tower – all are upcoming skyscrapers in addition to the already rugged yet towering skyline of Chicago.

The Magnificent Mile – A Mile Stretch of Bursting Productivity and Entertainment

The Magnificent Mile
Image Source: loewshotels.com

Also known as the Mag mile, this Magnificent mile-long stretch of famous and quality department stores and retailers, fancy hotels, and entertainment all around occupies North Michigan Avenue. Based on U.S. News and TripAdvisor 2020, it is considered as the top 4 best places to go to have a fun time. The Mag Mile encompasses the Ohio Street Beach, where the locals crowd to in the summer. Resting on this already bustling mile with happy smiles and hearts is the Navy Pier. Instead of me on what this family-friendly place contains, I’ll let the Magnificent Mile Association tell it:

“While you are here, we encourage you to consider the many dynamic and eclectic experiences we have to offer, such as our new lineup of authentic Chicago dining options, unparalleled views of the city and lake from our spacious South Dock, smooth and enjoyable rides aboard the grand Centennial Wheel, our beautiful Fountain and Plaza in Polk Bros Park, serene boat rides on the lake and river, free year-round arts and cultural programming, among other exciting pier-wide offerings” (2020).

While adult travelers can relish the diverse cuisines that the many restaurants have to offer, and they can enjoy the art establishments such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

This mile-long stretch of pure happiness and excitement can also be exhausting and tiring to cruise and explore. Maybe that is why they opened up a four-story, architectural masterpiece that just makes you want to stay there all day long, reading a book, enjoying the view, typing up the rest of that novel you were writing, and just enjoying that freshly roasted and brewed coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery. That’s right! An entire glass building for your coffee and unwinding needs! If you want to check out what I am making a fuss about, check out their website at https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/locations/chicago or better yet, go to the place itself in 646 N Michigan Avenue Chicago 60611.

This magnificent strip of Chicago is not only known for its establishments, beaches and carnivals, you know? It has an outdoor art series where everyone, no matter the gender, will feel appreciated, acknowledge and, more importantly, respected at Queertopia.

Now this is a place where your piggy bank will be fully spent because this bustling street caters to tourists and business travelers. But before you go on a spending spree or just relax, I have a little tip for all you Instagram and Facebook-updated folks. When you are walking, touring, driving or even merely standing inside The Magnificent Mile, do not forget to tweet, post and selfie with the “#OnTheMile” hashtag to show just how magnificent the mile-long piece of Chicago is.

Chicago House of Blues – Featuring Concerts, Music Events, and a Hella-Fun Time in the Nightlife

Chicago House of Blues
Image Source: Flickr.com

You might want to leave your kids home if you want to experience the Chicago House of Blues in 329 N Dearborn St on The Magnificent Mile. It has a state-of-the-art Music Hall, Restaurant & Bar serving Southern cuisine with performing local Blues musicians, Foundation Room VIP Club, and Gospel Brunch. Despite the name and aura of the business, they actually claim that their food and drinks are what brings in the people. Let us find out why.

Their bar serves a wide range of beer, wine, and hand-crafted specialty cocktails. Their restaurant serves Southern cuisine that they claim is “guaranteed to satisfy the body and soul.” If you are looking for the timings of their happy hour, well, do not worry as it is always happy hour at the Chicago House of Blues! But if this is not enough to wow you, you might want to get an upgrade and visit the Foundation Room VIP Club. After paying for it, that is.

To enjoy the finer things in life, the VIP Club that requires VIP membership gives access to priority access, VIP tables, personal service, a premium menu for the finest food, craft cocktails, in-house DJs, concert afterparties and more. When you are in the VIP Club, you even get to meet and greet artists and access pre-concert events. However, if you wanted to have a spiritual but also a fun time, Gospel Brunch is right up your alley.

I know I said not to bring your kids, but that is mainly because of the regular events at the Chicago House of Blue are all out crazy fun at the Restaurant & Bar and the Foundation Room. But at Gospel Brunch, it is spiritually fun, without the crazy. This breakfast-lunch event serves soulful but still Southern cuisine, all-you-can-eat buffet, and provides a live performance of gospel music. Also, part of your entrance fee goes to Music Forward Foundation charity.

Before you go speed your way over to this fine entertainment establishment, you must know that their mission is:

            “…to create… A profitable, principled global entertainment company. To celebrate the diversity and brotherhood of world culture. To promote racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence” (House of Blues).

So, keep in mind that the House of Blues may be a place to have a good time, but their end-goal is to ensure and promote a better you. So, don’t do anything I wouldn’t!

Lake Shore Drive – Seeing the Best of Urban Chicago Through Your Car Window

Lake Shore Drive
Image Source: chicago.curbed.com

This more than 15-mile famous expressway is surrounded by green space, beaches, parkland, skyscrapers, and luxury apartments. Most Chicagoans bring their friends and family from out-of-town through Lake Shore Drive from south or north for the purpose of boasting and taunting them of the beauty and wonders of Chicago.

The Willis Tower – The Thrill Enthusiasts’ Headquarters

The Willis Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the world and the second tallest building in Chicago at 1,353 feet divided into 110 floors. But it is not just some ordinary building that aims to literally stand out of the Chicago skyline. It has features that cater to you. Yes, you, the potential tourist. It features a 360-degree view of a 50-mile radius, and glass balconies extending 4.3 Feet outside the building called The Ledge. The activity where you wager your life with standing on a balcony fully made of glass is called “Dare to Stand Out”.

Museum of Science and Industry – A Peak into the Past, Present and Future of Technology

This museum on 5700 S Lake Shore Dr is a huge and wide establishment with 4 levels (3 levels above ground and 1 basement). It has a total of 23 exhibits with accompanying restaurants, shops and amenities inside. Sort of like a mall. Well, what can you expect from the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere! This museum aims to showcase inventions and discoveries of mankind from past, present and the foreseeable future.

To give back to the community, the United States military active-duty personnel and veterans, Illinois POWs, Chicago firefighters, Chicago police officers and Illinois primary and secondary teachers can enter the museum for free! Now, if you are any of the mentioned, just provide an ID that proves you can acquire this privilege.

To purchase tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry, you can buy them on their website at https://www.msichicago.org/, by phone at (773) 684-1414, or at the Museum’s ticket counters onsite. Purchasing in advance ensures that you can avoid long queues.

United Center – Or Should I Say, ‘Sports Fans Untied’?

The United Center, home to the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls, is the largest arena in the United States. The United Center hosts over 200 events a year, from musical performances to sports tournaments and competitions to the 1996 Democratic National Convention. It is recorded that the United Center has hosted over forty million guests since its opening in 1994. I guess a lot of people was there for that Democratic National Convention, huh? Or maybe because of the many nail-biting basketball tournaments that the Chicago Bulls have held there year after year?

Either way, you should check out their calendar of events on their website at https://www.unitedcenter.com/ or inquire by dialing (312) 455-4500 to see when you can join the various events and add one to that forty million guests total.

Harold Washington Library Center – In Honor of Chicago’s First African American Mayor

Raise your hand if you’re a bookworm! Good. Now make your way to 400 S. State Street in the Loop, Chicago to prove how much, “books is life”! This library holds central library that holds the Chicago Public Library System. The library itself is a whopping 972,000 square feet with a beautiful rooftop garden penthouse and free Wi-Fi Internet service. Now a little about Harold Lee Washington himself.

Harold Washington was the first African American mayor of Chicago from 1983 until only 1887 not because he stepped down but because he died in office. He was unpopular with the citizens at the time because of his overdue promises and unattractive implementations. The library was then named in his honor by the succeeding mayor.

Boeing Company – “Is that a bird? No, its a plane! Wait, it’s…made by Boeing!”

This 36-story building is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems, and service provider of aftermarket support. Boeing supports airlines and allied government customers in more than 150 countries. So, every manmade machine you see that involves flying and lifting off the ground, it most probably came from the best aerospace company which so happens to reside here in Chicago.

Gold Coast – The Home of the Original Playboy Mansion

Chicago Gold Coast
Image Source: goldcoastrealty-chicago.com

I caught your attention with this subtitle, didn’t I? This area has some of Chicago’s most desirable real estate because of its historic mansions, high-end shops, and great hotels. And if the place is loaded with property and expensive establishments on top of it, it must and does have a crazy nightlife to as a payoff. The North Rush Street is the place to go to play hard after working hard, or after making dough by owning property at the Gold Coast.

VII. The Taste of Chicago – Figuratively and Literally

The Taste of Chicago
Image Source: chicago.suntimes.com

Did you know that Chicago is deemed the third best foodie city in the country (U.S. News, 2020)? What is a foodie, you say? It is all you food lovers and critics! That’s right. Chicago is known for its diverse range of food, cuisines, food stores and restaurants. If you search “Chicago’s best” in Google or even in YouTube, you will be greeted with mouth-watering images and list upon lists of food. But wait, I bet you did not know that “the Taste of Chicago” is actually a festival rather than a catchy heading, did you?

‘The Taste of Chicago’ is actually a food and music festival held around the Independence Day holiday. During this time is the perfect time to try their Chicago-style pizza, Italian beef sandwich, and hot dogs. Now, what on earth is Italian beef doing on the list of Chicago’s best?

Now you might be wondering why I mentioned Italian beef when we are trying to see what Chicago is known for. Well, what I meant was Italian beef sandwich — what for it — Chicago style! This locally popular sandwich is available is many takeout joints in Chicago, preferably in Portillo’s or Vienna Beef. You might even think that the recipe may have come from the Italians, but it originated from Chicago in the 1930s.

Although it takes almost an hour to make, the end result will leave your taste buds and tummy satisfied as the roast beef needs to be seasoned with a wide array of spices, placed inside a sliced Italian roll of bread, and then topped with some pickled and/or sweet peppers.

Their pizza is made in the order of preparing the crust, then putting on cheese, then the toppings, and finally the tomato sauce. If the crust is thin, the pizza is advised to not hold too many toppings. But the opposite can be said for the deep-dish Chicago-style pizza which tends to have a more dense and compact crust.

As for the Chicago-style hot dog, it has more ingredients than the previous two combined. It is a Chicago red hot dog (or all-beef frankfurter) on a poppy seed bun topped with yellow mustard, white onions, sweet neon green pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear, and celery salt. If you’re not a fan of sour and strong flavors, the Chicago-style hot dog should not be on your “to eat” bucket list.

Garrett Popcorn is the Chicago-styled – you guessed it – popcorn. This Chicago-style popcorn is popcorn covered with baking soda that is stirred into microwaved brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. This addictive, salty-sweet treat is worth popping into your mouth because Garret Popcorn is on Oprah’s ultimate Favorite Things in 2010. To seal the deal, she even stated that Garret Popcorn is, “…the best popcorn on the planet” (Oprah.com, 2010).

Now that we have gone through what the Taste of Chicago festival has to offer, let us visit some of the best restaurant and food stores that are open and can be visited on every other normal day:

GrubHub, Inc. – Online Food Delivery During the Pandemic

GrubHub
Image Source: foxbusiness.com

Founded in Chicago (and popularly used now in so many other places), GrubHub is a reliable online food ordering and delivery platform. So, for of you who are stuck under community quarantine, or even those you are just simply to comfy at home to buy food, the GrubHub application is for you. So, when in Chicago, all the above-mentioned dinners, restaurants and other food stores in the city may be available to order from and delivered to your hotel doorstep with just a few clicks on your phone.

So here is how it works: you type in your address, then it will locate all the nearby restaurants that are available to deliver. When you find the restaurant that you want to order from, choose the food you want delivered and wait for the said amount of time it will take to be bought and then brought to you. However, the most complained issue of the GrubHub service is the inaccurate indicated time that the food would take to arrive. Other than that, the food of Chicago can come to you with the use of GrubHub.  

Restaurant Row – One Mile of Foodie Heaven

Restaurant Row in Chicago
Image Source: chicago.eater.com

The West’s Randolph Street is nicknamed ‘Restaurant Row’ because of covers one mile of restaurants and food stores. To show what you’re in for when you drive on down to this street, here are the top three best food destinations in Restaurant Row [See Figures 2.1 and 2.2 in the Appendix to see food destinations in Restaurant Row, Chicago]:

3. Little Goat Diner

This diner is owned by the same owner of the Girl & The Goat. This is Stephanie Izard’s a 2.0 version of the number one food store on this list. It is located on 820W. of Randolph St., and just like a regular diner, it serves the usual diner-food such as eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns salads, burgers, fries, soups and sandwiches. But it is known for its simplicity with a twist!

So, if you are looking for an all-out American diner that you see in movies, unfortunately, this is not for you. However, unlike the regular diner with red and teal theme, this diner takes on a more modern, bright and clear style. Little Goat Diner? It should be called the Modern Diner with a Twist!

If you are still hesitant about the diner, do not take my word for it! Here are some reviews, out of the 4557 overall reviews, on ‘Yelp!’:

“A fun place to dine, with wacky names like Little Piggy Went To China, and a casual comfortable venue.” by Simon (2020)

“…service is great! I forgot our waiter’s name but he was attentive and super friendly.” by Jeremy (2020)

“The little goat diner is definitely a nice spot for Sunday brunch, great for family and friends gathering! Food is delicious and coffee is great” by Leila (2020)

If you have any more questions, call (312) 888-3455. If you are looking for a bakery and coffee shop along your way, you should try out the Little Goat Bread store right beside the diner. They serve cakes, cupcakes, bagels, schmears, pastries and, of course, loaves of bread. Just a little tip: a bunch of reviews claimed that they have the best coffee in the town!

2. Au Cheval

Imagine a room of a dark and mysterious yet classy and elegant person. Now take that theme and slap it into a narrow diner. Do you have a mental picture? Well, that is the Au Cheval is just for you! Owned by Brendan Sodikoff, this diner has vintage, jet black booths, black walls, gray tiles, and dim, yellow lighting. The only things not in the hue of black are the tables. Talk about black on black, right? Not only is their place elegantly dark, their food is, too!

They serve simple food with bold tastes like the fried chicken with chili and cilantro, beef cheek marmalade with toast, and strong drinks and shots. They even serve burgers with a knife pierced through the center of it. Dark elegance on both food and presentation? Check and check! Speaking of burgers, let’s just say that I’d rather let Kammy, a reviewer on ‘Yelp!’, describe them:

“Best hamburger I’ve ever tried. Their Home made French fries were also superb. Attentive staffs. Must come again!” by Kammy (2020)

And is there anything else I can explain after that review? I thought not too. So, to call for more information, dial 312-929-4580. If you do not have any more questions and you cannot wait to feel empowered in a dimly lit dark themed diner to eat empoweringly strong and bold flavors, head on down to 800 W. Randolph St. And remember, it is empowering! (Just in case I did not emphasize it enough).

1. Girl & The Goat

If you read about the third one on this list- Little Goat Diner- then you already have an idea about the food their serving. Just like the Little Goat Diner menu, the Girl & The Goat has dishes with witty and quirky names. And that’s not all. This reputable restaurant is so fancy that an article said that its reservation is “as elusive as a warm January afternoon in the Windy City [Chicago]” (Yeates, R. C., 2017).

You should believe the saying where the older a store is, the better. Well, the Girl & The Goat had first opened in 2010 making it one of the first restaurants on Randolph Street before it became the Restaurant Row. So, if it stayed open for all this time even if more and more competitive restaurants and stores rose, that speaks for the restaurant’s quality. Well, aside from it being nominated for the best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. On that note, I think I don’t need to show the reviews anymore.

So, make your way to this Stephanie Izard’s second restaurant located at 809 W Randolph Street. They are open every day from 10:30am to 1pm, then opens again at 4:30pm until 9:30pm.

Before we end this section, I want to give you all a little dessert; an honorable mention, if you will. The ‘Food Insider’ is famous for its trusted reviews on specific food to restaurants in general. One recent video they published on YouTube was about a cake that already won the heart and stomach of its consumers that was turned into a milkshake!

And no, it was not just the frosting that was put into a shake, but literally the entire serving, chocolate cake, complete with frosting, was put into a shake-cup with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate syrup was all churned, mixed and turned into a shake.

This chunky, chocolatey and delicious chocolate cake shake is served at the restaurant, Portillo’s, which is available in two branches in Chicago and dozen other branches around Illinois, and a few in Arizona, California and Florida. So, for those who want to get a taste what had started at simple 6’ by 12’ trailer in Chicago (Portillo’s, 2020), head on down to Portillo’s and enjoy their chocolate ‘cake’ shake today! If you do not want to see it to believe it, here is the YouTube video I was talking about earlier: (Happy viewing!)

VIII. The Full Truth

Yes, Chicago has a bad record of crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide. It is a fact that Chicago is thought to be one of the most violent cities in America. However, The Trace, a nonprofit news outlet, released a report of homicide rates in America. The report shows that Chicago is “nowhere near the top of the list” (McCarthy, N., 2017). Chicago may have a high crime rate, but it officially is not one of the top most dangerous cities of the U.S.

IX. Main Takeaways (Summary)

Phew! That was a very long list of places, activities and advocacies that places Chicago in a whole new light that is completely the opposite of being the most dangerous cities of the continent. Instead of giving you yet another long list of what you just read, here is an infographic instead:

X. One Last Sway (plus Safety Tips)

Every town, city and country on the face of the Earth is dangerous at some degree as long as humans are in it. No place is truly safe if you think about it. Chicago just happens to be painted with crimes that humans make, not something Chicago enforces or allows. Chicago, as a city, is a place that makes America proud. From its structures, the food, to it very soil, it holds the American spirit within it. Do not let the inhumane drive you away from such a magnificent piece of land.

Speaking of inhumane, here are some tips you might want to run through to get the best out of your experience at Chicago while being aware and cautious of some noted and reviewed dangers in some parts of this city:

  • Always keep your belongings and valuable on and with you, whenever and wherever.
  • Avoid travelling in the city at night. If unavoidable, be aware of your surroundings and never walk alone.
  • If you do not have your own vehicle, take the L as much as possible.
  • Even if in the Elevated Train or any other public transportation, be aware of any dangers, rip-offs and those going the wrong way. To exercise precaution, you might want to consider grabbing an Uber or Lyft.
  • Be on the lookout for scammers and beggars especially in tourist destinations and hotspots in order to avoid and ignore them. If anyone suspiciously approaches up to you acting or stating to be an official, ask for their license or ID.
  • If you want to travel in the city at night, avoid the West Side and some of the South Side (West Side and West Loop are different). These two sides (especially the former) are most prone to crime and violence.
  • When you are in the South and West Side of Chicago, know that they are rough neighborhoods. The West Side is a poor community that has high crime rates mostly involving gangs and drugs. When going to these parts, make sure to either bring your own vehicle or ride the L train if you are only commuting.  

After reading this article, I hope you can give Chicago a chance to prove to you that they are more than the common rumored stigma that it is usually associated with. I’m not saying that Chicago is not dangerous, I’m just wanted you to know that Chicago is not all that bad once you get to know the place (while exercising precaution, of course). Here’s the crazy part – this isn’t even everything that the great city of Chicago has to offer. You may want to go see it for yourself.

References

Duis, P. R. from Britannica (2019). Chicago. Retrieved From https://www.britannica.com/place/Chicago.

History.com (2010). Home Insurance Building. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/home-insurance-building#:~:text=The%20Home%20Insurance%20Building%2C%20built,the%20world’s%20first%20modern%20skyscraper.

House of Blues (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.houseofblues.com/about.

McCarthy, N. (2017). Is Chicago Really America’s Most Dangerous City? [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/06/21/is-chicago-really-americas-most-dangerous-city-infographic/#75282de950da.

Nelson, M. (2019). Barack Obama: Life Before the Presidency. Retrieved from https://millercenter.org/president/obama/life-before-the-presidency.

Oprah.com (2010). Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things 2010. Retrieved from https://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/oprahs-ultimate-favorite-things-2010/11#:~:text=Garrett%2C%20a%20favorite%20things%20all,shipped%20right%20to%20your%20door.

Portillo’s (2020). Our Story. Retrieved from https://www.portillos.com/our-story/#:~:text=Dog%20House,a%20bathroom%20or%20running%20water.

Tamarkin, D. (2013). Randolph Street: Where to Eat Now on Chicago’s Restaurant Row. Retrieved from https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2013-05-01/photos-randolph-street-chicago-restaurants?verso=true.

The Magnificent Mile Association (2020). Navy Pier. Retrieved from https://www.themagnificentmile.com/explore/listing/navy-pier.

U.S. News (2020). Chicago Travel Guide. Retrieved from https://travel.usnews.com/Chicago_IL/Area_Map/#:~:text=Chicago’s%20eastern%20boundary%20is%20formed,compact%20downtown%20area%20%E2%80%93%20the%20Loop.

World Population Review (2020). Chicago, Illinois Population 2020. Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/chicago-il-population.

Selvam, A., Gerzina, D. & Waxman, N. (2019). Chicago’s 2020 Michelin Stars, Mapped. Retrieved from https://chicago.eater.com/maps/chicago-michelin-star-restaurants-map.

Yeates, R. C. (2017). Where to Go on Chicago’s Restaurant Row. Retrieved from https://www.travelpulse.com/opinions/blog/where-to-go-on-chicago-s-restaurant-row.html.

Appendix

Figure 1.1  |  The top 5 best hotels in the Loop, Chicago

RankCulture Trip (best hotels)TimeOut (best hotels)TripAdviser (best hotels by value)
1Palmer House a Hilton HotelChicago Athletic AssociationLondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton
2Virgin Hotels ChicagoPalmer House a Hilton HotelStaypineapple
3Cambria Hotel Chicago LoopVirgin Hotels ChicagoRadisson Blu Aqua Hotel
4Chicago Athletic AssociationThe Black StoneVirgin Hotels Chicago
5Kimpton Gray HotelStaypineappleHotel Julian
WebsiteRetrieved on August from https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/illinois/articles/the-best-hotels-in-the-loop-chicago/Retrieved on August from  https://www.timeout.com/chicago/hotels/the-best-downtown-chicago-hotels-in-the-loopRetrieved on August from  https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Hotels-g35805-zfn7778523-Chicago_Illinois-Hotels.html

Figure 1.2  |  Ranking of the best hotels in the Loop, Chicago

RankCityAveraging of rank
1Virgin Hotels ChicagoTop 2 + Top 3 + Top 4 = 9 / 3 = 3
2Palmer House a Hilton HotelTop 1 + Top 2 = 3 / 2 = 1.5
3Chicago Athletic AssociationTop 4 + Top 1 = 5 / 2 = 2.5

Figure 2.1  |  The top 5 food destinations in Restaurant Row, Chicago

RankCN Traveler (where to eat now in Restaurant Row)Travel Pulse (Where to Go on Chicago’s Restaurant Row )TripAdviser (highest rated)TripAdviser (most reviewed)
1Little Goat DinerBar SienaOrioleGirl & The Goat
2Au ChevalRM ChampagneSabroso! Mexican GrillAu Cheval
3BellyQGirl & The GoatGirl & The GoatLittle Goat
4GraceRoneroKomorebi SushiThe Publican
5Avec Au ChevalAvec
WebsiteRetrieved on August from https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2013-05-01/photos-randolph-street-chicago-restaurants?verso=trueRetrieved on August from  https://www.travelpulse.com/opinions/blog/where-to-go-on-chicago-s-restaurant-row.htmlRetrieved on August from  https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=restaurant+row&find_loc=West+Loop%2C+Chicago%2C+ILRetrieved on August from https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=restaurant%20row&find_loc=randolph%20street&sortby=review_count

Figure 2.2  |  Ranking of the best food destinations in Restaurant Row, Chicago

RankCityAveraging of rank
1Girl & The GoatTop 3 + Top 3 + Top 1 = 7 / 3 = 2.33
2Au ChevalTop 2 + Top 5 + Top 2 = 9 / 3 = 3
3Little GoatTop 1 + Top 3 = 4 / 2 = 2
time in Chicago
Image Source: hotelemc2.com

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