I love visiting Chicago.
Living in the Midwest, there are several major U.S> cities that are close enough to me for weekend trips or mini getaways. My choice is almost always Chicago. While I am not a fan of any of their sports teams, I am a fan of the food, shopping and beautiful skyline. I am going to share with you my favorite hotels, restaurants and things to do to make any trip to Chicago a memorable one.
My favorite hotel to stay at downtown is the Radisson Blu Aqua. It is located on North Columbus Drive, which to me is the perfect location. With views of Millennium Park and the restaurant Filini located inside, I just adore this property.
The staff is so welcoming and friendly. I have stayed here five times so far and already have rooms booked to visit again this fall. The Blu Aqua is within a mile or so of many major attractions, including the Bean, Magnificent Mile and the John Hancock Center.
Where to start. I have been to many restaurants that are worth mentioning. I’ll try to gives short description of each so I can include more. :)1. Wildberry Pancakes and CafeOne of their locations is just a 5 minute walk from the Blu Aqua. They serve breakfast and lunch but it seems the breakfast is what they’re most known for. Wildberry has excellent pancakes with a wide variety of specialty flavors. I have also had a breakfast skillet and omelette and both were delicious. Wildberry also has some great coffee and espresso drinks. I definitely recommend trying it if you are looking for somewhere to eat breakfast!
2. Eataly Chicago
Eataly is an Italian market that carries everything from pasta to wine. It also has several restaurants inside of it as well as a coffee bar. La Piazza is located in the center of the second floor and has incredible pizza, wine and fresh mozzarella which is made daily.
Everything I have tried from Eataly has been fantastic. There is a cheese stand where you can buy the fresh mozzarella as well as many other cheeses. They carry an excellent smoked provolone as well.
Eataly is located on East Ohio Street and is about 2 blocks off Michigan Avenue. We usually go to Eatalyad eat and shop then head up to Michigan Avenue for more shopping! Everyone I have taken to Eataly since discovering it has fallen in love with it too.
3. Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
I recently visited Joe’s for the first time in December. It was honestly one of the top three meals I’ve ever had in my life! The first Joe’s opened in Miami Beach in 1913 and has become famous for it’s stone crab and key lime pie. I personally had the crab cakes which came with house made mustard sauce. It was PHENOMENAL. Our table also shared the mac and cheese which is amazing. The waiter also brought us a desert tray which did have the key lime pie. It is definitely worth getting. The staff was so wonderful to us, I would recommend Joe’s to anyone looking to have a fabulous meal in the city.
4. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
The argument of who has the best Chicago deep dish will probably continue forever. However I definitely recommend trying Lou’s. They have over 50 Chicagoland locations to date.
My biggest tip for eating here is make sure you allow yourself enough time. The deep dish pizzas take approximately 40 minutes to bake. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Things To Do
There are literally thousands of things to do in Chicago. So how do you choose how to spend your time? Personally I think it dependson the season. I’m going to share just a couple of my favorite things to do and hope it helps you narrow it down!
1. The Museum of Science and Industry
I have been to the museum twice now in the last year and both times have been memorable. They always have featured exhibits which rotate in and out as well as all the permanent ones. When I visited in December, the museum featured the Christmas Trees Around The World exhibit. It was magical! Each countries tree is decorated with ornaments either native to the country or made from items popular in that country. I absolutely loved the exhibit. There are so many hands on exhibits for children as well. The weather area is so much fun. I have learned a lot of things I never knew before thanks to my visits to the museum. It is easy to plan a day trip and the museums website is a great tool to help you pla your day.
2. Lincoln Park Zoo
I have also been to the zoo twice. Once in the spring and once last December. Both times were great! One wonderful feature of the zoo is that admission is free. Lincoln Park Zoo is also open 365 days a year! They do charge for parking, but if you travel big cities like me, you can easily take a cab to the zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo offers many events throughout the year, but the most popular may be Zoo Lights! I was actually in awe of how many lights there were when I visited the zoo in December. Not one branch was left unlit. It was magical.
3. The Bean
An iconic Chicago landmark. The 12 foot high Cloud Gate is located upon AT&T Plaza. It is an amazing sight to see and obviously a great photo op. 🙂 Cloud Gate Information
I hope my experiences and recommendations help you plan and enjoy your trip to Chicago!
*All photos in this post were taken by me.