CLEANER, smaller and (in my opinion) slicker than New York – Chicago, in the words of ol’ blue eyes Frank Sinatra, “it’s my kind of town”.
A haven for foodies and an architect’s dream, the Windy City (a nickname not for its wind but for its politicians who were apparently full of “hot air”) has something for everyone.
A visit during the fall and stay at the Hotel Chicago proved the ideal time and place to see downtown Chicago.
Sitting between Marina City (known as the “corn cobs”) and the Chicago River, while being conveniently located minutes from shopping meccas The Magnificent Mile and State Street, it is perfectly placed.
While in Chi-Town, my concierge Russell advised an architectural tour on the river was the best way to see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. He was not wrong.
Informative, entertaining and historical this 90-minute guided tour cruises by more than 50 skyscrapers, moveable bridges and historic sites including the Willis Tower (formerly Sears), Trump Tower, Chinatown, Boeing, the Civic Opera Building and the Chicago Tribune.
Want to learn about the city’s seedy past and underbelly? A Chicago Crime Tour is a must.
Visit Harry Caray’s Restaurant to see gangster Frank Nitti’s apartment and vault and hear stories about Al Capone and John Dillinger.
You will also visit the site of Chicago’s most notorious murder, the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.
For something a little lighter, a visit to the United Centre to watch the Chicago Bulls and see Michael Jordan’s statue is one to pop on the list.
The home of the Chicago Bulls is something to behold and watching the “red army” in action needs to be seen.
Fans are whipped into a frenzy as the Bulls take to the court, saving the biggest cheer for their champion Derrick Rose.
Even if you are not a basketball fan, you’d be hard pressed not to get carried away.
A day spent at beautiful Millennium Park shows how architecture, playgrounds and amphitheatres work so well.
Sitting in the heart of Chicago’s famous “Loop” the park is filled with art, music, architecture and gardens and is home to sculptures including the interactive Crown Fountain and the Bean.
The Park also holds free jazz and music festivals and concerts throughout the year.
When it comes to cuisine, Chicago has it covered, with whatever you are craving at your fingertips.
Personal favourites included RPM Steak and Italian – delicious, simple food served by the best in the business.
The Purple Pig – you’ll have to wait in line for this one but it is worth it.
The Publican – famous for their spicy pork rind and at $6 it’s hard to stop at one serve.
However, it’s the famous Chicago deep-dish pizza – you can’t go without and at Giordano’s one small serve is more than enough.
Other places to grab a bite include Hub 51 for brunch, Magnolia’s Bakery for cupcakes, Eataly (The Re-store on steroids); while the best coffee in town can be found at Bow Truss.
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Chicago – Downtown
WHAT TO DO:
– Millennium Park – Spend the day here checking out the architecture and take a selfie with the “Bean”
– Chicago Theatre – Spend an evening at the theatre or enjoy a comedy show or ballet performance
– Magnificent Mile – Bring your credit card and enjoy this shopaholic’s dream
– Navy Pier – Originally built as a cargo facility for lake freighters in 1916, it is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city with a beautiful view of the city’s skyline alongside Lake Michigan.
Originally published on communitynews.com.au