Life: Visiting Chicago

I’m posting this out of frustration with the bland, dated advice in yesterday’s New York Times Travel section. A couple celebrating their 25th anniversary plans to spend a few days in Chicago in early December. What to do, where to go?

Agreed. It will be cold.

Let’s review the reasons to visit Chicago any time of year: food, art and architecture, shopping, theater and improv and blues, Lake Michigan and its beachfront paths, neighborhoods, sports. Chicago is a world-class city, a splendid place to spend a few days. Without kids, even better.

Stay at a hotel on or near Michigan Avenue. Don’t rent a car. You’ll be able to walk, cab, bus or take the “el” easily, day or night.

Arriving late? Many restaurants serve until 2 a.m. Cozy up at the The Purple Pig (500 N. Michigan Ave.) for small-plate Mediterranean fare. Slurp oysters at Shaw’s Crab House (21 E. Hubbard St.)

In the morning, stroll through Millennium Park (Randolph St. at Michigan Ave.) Its wonders are obvious. Walk its southern bridge to enter the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave.) Duck into the Cultural Center to marvel at the world’s largest Tiffany dome (78 E. Washington St.)

For lunch: Park Grill, Henri, and The Gage are excellent choices nearby. For quick and casual, natives flock to Potbelly Sandwich Shops. If you must sample deep-dish pizza, Uno’s is authentic, and always crowded (29 E. Ohio St.) Rosebud serves Italian food and my favorite hamburger.

The world comes to Michigan Avenue to shop and you should, too. From H&M to Perla, this street has the Champs Elysees’ energy, with better stores. Side streets offer boutique shopping.

Massage? Urban Oasis (12 W. Maple St.)

Dinner! Chicago is a mecca. Topolobampo, Blackbird, Mexique, Naha, MK, Keefer’s, Piccolo Sogno, Takashi, Spiaggia: all great choices for a special meal. Nightcap — for the stupendous view — at the Signature Lounge, 96th floor of the John Hancock Center.

Take breakfast or lunch in a Chicago neighborhood. In Lincoln Park, try Toast, Floriole, Perennial, Twisted Sister. In Wicker Park, head to Hot Chocolate or Big Star. Logan Square, savor Lula’s Cafe or Longman & Eagle. Foodies will head to Hot Doug’s for duck-fat fries and foie gras dogs.

Wander residential streets or ride the “el” — you don’t need a tour guide to experience Chicago’s glorious architecture. If the weather is agreeable, walk the lakefront path south towards Oak Street. Endless lake, the beach in winter, Chicago’s skyline. There’s nothing like it.

Readers: where would you send a couple visiting Chicago?

Also in the blog

I’m stealing this subject line from David Lebovitz, the funny, smart, worldly blogger who writes from Paris about life and food and cooking and things in France and other places. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/02/things-im-liking/ He’s liking small cassoulet bowls, a variety of oils, buckwheat cookies… Here in Chicago I’m liking the service — from booking the reservation to


Black lives matter. These are among my favorite reads — novels, plays, poetry, nonfiction — about Black lives in America and overseas. Each is illuminating, infuriating, heartbreaking.  Native Son, by Richard Wrignt (1940) Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1952) The Street, by Ann Petry (1946)   Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)  A Raisin


Looking for a place to eat? Look up. In Chicago, many of the city’s best restaurants are tucked inside skyscrapers or set in vertical shopping centers Latest entry? Fred’s (15 E. Oak St.), on the sixth floor of the new Barney’s New York. (What a makeover!) My friend Jennifer and I had lunch at Fred’s


One thought on "Life: Visiting Chicago"

  • Thanks, I was amazed by this blog post. I found this page using Yahoo search, and certainly liked taking time to read it, so I’ll probably drop through again within a few days and read up on what’s new 😀 Great Post!

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