Chicago. Chi-Town. The Windy City. Second City. There are many ways you can refer to the third largest city in the United States. It’s a city full of history, culture, and friendly people from all over the world. You may know Chicago for it’s deep dish pizza, or perhaps for Second City, the improv theater that produced comedians like Steve Carell, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, and Tim Meadows. While those are two things that make Chicago great, there is much more to this city that make it an ideal vacation location, for even the pickiest of people.
1) Chicago has amazing food
I already mentioned deep dish pizza, something that Chicago is known for. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a right of passage when you come to Chicago. However, this city is much more than a pizza town! When you visit, you must try the Chicago-style hot dog from Portillo’s. What is a Chicago style hot dog? A hot dog on a poppy seed bun, with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, tomato wedges, pickled sport peppers, a dill pickle spear and a dash of celery salt. Also, definitely be sure to pick up some Garrett’s Popcorn!
There are more than these delicious cheap eats in the city, Chicago is also known to have some of the top restaurants in the country! Get a unique dining experience at Alinea, which features an always changing menu and presents food to you in an unusually creative way. Or, head to Au Cheval for one of the best burgers in the country. You might have a two hour wait, but you can pass the time by grabbing a beer at Haymarket Pub & Brewery across the street.
2) It’s easy to get to and easy to get around!
Chicago is served by two airports: O’Hare and Midway. For that reason, it’s not too difficult to find deals to fly in or out of the city. Once you’re in the city, it’s so easy to get around! The public transportation is excellent. The city’s “EL” train/subway is very easy to navigate with only 8 lines – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, and brown. Our bus system is also very reliable. Purchase a CTA Ventra Card with a multi-day pass that you can use for the buses and trains. It’ll take you anywhere you’d like to go.
3) Chicago has 77 different neighborhoods!
When you get your CTA Ventra Card, start exploring Chicago’s 77 unique neighborhoods. Go see the cubs at Wrigley field and go on a pub crawl in Wrigleyville. Pop over to the Near West Side to get your foodie on. Head over to Pilsen to enjoy some Mexican food and tons of public art. Whatever you’re looking for in Chicago, you’ll be able to find it in one of the city’s neighborhoods.
4) There are a ton of free things to do in Chicago
Chicago doesn’t have to be an expensive vacation! There are plenty of fun things you can do that are free or cost little. Explore the city and check out some of the public art, spend an afternoon checking out a neighborhood and perhaps run into a free festival! If it’s really nice out, head to the beach and stick your toes in Lake Michigan, or spend the afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you’re looking to do more guided tours, you can find some for free at the cultural center that will take you around Grant Park (Chicago’s Biggest Park). With some notice, you can even get a personalized tour based on your own interests!
5) Chicago’s skyline is like no other
If you’re looking for a gorgeous skyline, Chicago’s is hard to beat. When the city was completely devastated by the Great Chicago Fire back in 1871, only a handful of buildings survived. They had to completely rebuild the city, and this time, they made it even better (not out of wood).
It became known as the Second City, which is one of the reasons for the nickname. Get an amazing view of the skyline from outside of the Adler Planetarium, or learn about the buildings themselves with an architecture boat tour. You can sail through the city on the river and learn all about the Chicago’s history.
6) You can experience some of the best museums in the country
Chicago’s museums are top notch. The famous five include The Field Museum (History), The Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute, The Shedd Aquarium, and The Museum of Science and Industry. These are all excellent, but in addition to these famous museums, you can find some unique ones that might be more in line with your interests. Some of these may include, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The DuSable Museum of African American History, or The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Whatever your interest is, there is a museum for you.
7) Natural beauty is all around.
Chicago is a huge city, but don’t be deterred by that! Unlike New York, Chicago isn’t a concrete jungle. Chicago has so much natural beauty within its borders. The city lies right on Lake Michigan and has a river that runs throughout the city. In addition to that, there are over 570 individual parks that you can spend some time in. If you come in the summer, you can even enjoy a movie in the park instead of being cooped up inside.
8) Chicago nightlife is awesome.
Check out a trendy rooftop bar or head to a dive if that’s more your scene. Experience a pub crawl or head to one of Chicago’s many night clubs. Chicago is a city that likes to drink. No matter what scene you want to explore, you’ll be able to find a place (or several) that you’ll enjoy. If drinking isn’t really your thing, check out an open mic or go see a theater performance. You can experience it all in Chicago.
9) There are hundreds of interesting events.
It’s hard to be bored in Chicago. No matter what time of year you visit, there are tons of events that are going on that you can participate in. If you’re a runner, participate in a 5K or be more ambitious and participate in the Chicago Marathon. Are you here for the summer? Check out the Taste of Chicago and get to experience flavors from restaurants all over the city. Interested in Music? There are tons of music festivals here in addition to the famous “Lollapalooza.” There’s truly something for everyone.
10) There are so many sports teams to cheer for in Chicago.
If you’re a sports fan, you’ve come to the right city. We all know the Cubs finally won the World Series after 71 years; head over to Wrigleyville and watch them in action! If you’re more of a White Sox fan, check out a game of theirs over at The Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side. Not into baseball? You can always root for The Bears or The Bulls!
While Chicago sometimes gets a bad rap for their crime rate, don’t let that deter you from visiting. Yes, it is a problem in some areas; however, that is much like every major city in the world. Visit Chicago and you’ll fall in love with the city and all the wonderful things it has to offer you.
What do you look forward to experiencing on your upcoming visit to Chicago? If you’ve already traveled to Chicago, tell us what you enjoyed most by posting a comment below!