10 must-do things to do in Chicago
With its 76 different neighborhoods (including the largest (delicious!) Mexican American neighborhood in the United States!), its 570 parks, its 245 miles of bike lanes, its countless architectural marvels, its vibrant food scene and its multitude of activities, Chicago is this great American city that charms at first sight. Between friends, love at first sight for the Windy City is as numerous as it is dazzling. Here are a few that are still fresh in our hearts as travelers.
The Architectural Cruise on the Chicago River
This is the must-do activity to truly capture the beauty of Chicago. We take place on the upper deck of the First Lady boat (a coffee or a cocktail in hand, why not?!) to take part in the CAFC River Cruise: a 90-minute commented cruise telling the story behind some fifty of the city’s most important skyscrapers. We stroll along the Riverwalk, under 18 of the 40 bridges over the river, then between the impressive buildings as between periods and architectural currents (commercial Chicago, historical inspirations, art deco, modern architecture of half of the 20e century, the post-modern, the contemporary period…) We also learn more about the great architects behind the Marina City, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and, between 1973 and 1998, recognized as the tallest skyscraper) , 150 North Riveside, 333 West Wacker, Harry Weese Cottages, NBC Tower, Aqua Tower (the tallest skyscraper created by a woman in the world) and other architectural masterpieces. The cruise goes as far as Navy Pier, the marina, and the Ferris wheel rising in front of Lake Michigan.
Visiting the exhibitions of the Chicago Architecture Center
Included in the price of the ticket for the architectural cruise, the discovery of the exhibitions of the new Chicago Architecture Center is well worth looking into. During a guided or self-guided tour, we dive into the great moments of Chicago history. The large 3D model where the different districts of the city are illuminated is particularly impressive (you have to see how the “Chicago Great Fire” of 1871 spread rapidly in the city then entirely composed of wood), as is the exhibition : “A day in my life in 2050” taking a disturbing look at what the world will be like in 2050 and a fascinating look at the most important skyscrapers and architectural projects around the world.
The walk in Millenium Park
Created in 2004, the Millenium Park quickly became a favorite spot for city residents and visitors alike with its fountains, sculptures, large concert stage and art installations. It is also here that the famous ” bean “, this work of art officially baptized The Cloud having strong resemblances with… a giant bean quickly became emblem of the city now nicknamed Beantown. You go for a walk there to have your picture taken in front of, below and behind the beautiful large shimmering work, to take off your shoes and cool off in the water of the fountains and quite simply enjoy the calm of this green place planted in the heart of the Loop.
Lunch – or happy hour – on the terrace of Cindy’s
It is on the terrace of Cindy’s that I was able to enjoy the most beautiful view of Millenium Park and The Cloud! Dressed at 13e floor of its superb building facing the park, the chic restaurant-bar offers cocktails and colorful dishes to enjoy under the sun, with your eyes fixed on the horizon. We arrive early for the 5 to 7, because the narrow terrace quickly finds itself crowded.
The Guided Bike Ride with Bike and Roll Chicago
Along with Jade, one of the Bike and Roll Chicago guides, the bike ride called “Lincoln Park Bicycle Adventure” allows you to take the pulse of another section of Chicago. That of the Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan, its beaches and its inviting Lincoln Park. From the Navy Pier, we ride with our hair in the wind on the bike path surrounded by squares of sand imported from the dunes of Wisconsin to the statue of Lincoln (with the lucky shoe that you have to rub!) and to the Chicago Zoo whose admission is free at all times. The company also offers bike rental without a guided ride.
Views of the city from the Skydeck Chicago and the 360 Chicago Observation Deck
Duo of experiences high in adrenaline rushes, the views of Chicago from the Skydeck Chicago and the 360 Chicago Observation Deck live up to their reputation. We go to the first when the sun shines, making the tiles of the skyscrapers shimmer that we can also see UNDER our feet while standing on one of the glass floors (!), and at the top of the second in the evening when darkness falls on the city which magically lights up for the night.
The Art Institute of Chicago
In this magnificent glass building, we have the pleasure of “seeing with our eyes” great works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Miró, Dali, Warhol, Seurat, Monet, Edward Hopper, Graant Wood (to whom we owe the famous painting “American Gothic” ), Magrite as well as superb stained glass windows by Chagall. You have to take the time to discover the 4 floors of exhibitions in this museum, which has won various honors, including the best museum in the world according to the TripAdvisor site in 2014. Inspiring.
Like any good self-respecting big city, Chicago is home to many small and larger independent cafes run by genuine coffee aficionado. Among these, we make it a point to stop for a latte at the Intelligentsia café, Limitless Coffee & Tea, Dark Matter, La Colombe or even on the pretty terrace of the Fairgrounds café next to Millenium Park.
Evenings at the Little Goat Diner and Girl and the Goat
The same chef for a duo of magnificent addresses: the restaurants Little Goat Diner And Girl and the Goat are both the fruit of the imagination and creativity of renowned chef Stephanie Izard (known, among other things, for being the first female chef to win the Top Chef television competition). Both located in the trendy West Loop district (the former slaughterhouse district reminiscent of the Soho or Meatpacking District of New York), the first seduces with its atmosphere of dinner American (counter and rotating seats, benches, long tables, breakfasts served all day, sandwiches, salads, burgers, cocktails and Sundays) while the second is festive, cozy, lively and just trendy enough with its unparalleled friendly service , its small dishes to share, its plates of goat cheese (it was to be expected), meats and seafood composed of fresh products following the “farm to table” philosophy.
The deep dish pizza at Gino’s East restaurant
We no longer really know to whom we owe the paternity of the famous deep dish pizza of Chicago, but one thing is certain, the popular restaurant Gino’s East is famous for his. It reveals itself very thick with its layers of cheese and tomato sauce filling the thick and crispy dough, cooked in a round mold from which it is served directly at the table. To taste, in Chicago, once in a lifetime.
-To make great savings, we get Chicago CityPASS ($108 US adults, $89 children 3 to 11 years old) which is valid for 9 consecutive days and can be purchased online or at participating partners. The pass offers a 50% discount on premium admission to these top 5 Chicago attractions: Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago or 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck.