Chicago is a city where its passions run deep — for baseball, the blues, architecture and comfort food like deep dish pizza.
Summer is an ideal time to visit the Windy City, whose nickname came from its politicians rather than its climate — although on a hot day a breeze coming off Lake Michigan will be appreciated.
While some of the city’s biggest sights are clustered around The Loop area, be sure to get out and explore some of Chicago’s other neighborhoods. Each one has a distinct feel and are home to some of the city’s best ethnic eats, whether you’re looking to sample Chinese, Greek or Korean food.
Where to go
Have your Ferris Bueller moment (the movie marks its 30th anniversary this year) at the Art Institute of Chicago (admission $25, $19 for seniors, students and teens 14-17, FREE under age 14; 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312-443-3600, artic.edu), which is famous for its collection of Impressionist and modern art. Then stroll through adjacent Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St., 312-742-1168, millenniumpark.org) to take in the views of Lake Michigan, find free events at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion and let kids loose at the new Maggie Daley Park, home to a climbing wall.
Hop on board Chicago’s First Lady to enjoy the 90-minute Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise (tickets $44-$46, $25 children 3 and under, advance ticket purchase recommended; 112 E. Wacker Drive, 847-358-1330, cruisechicago.com) and take in the city’s iconic skyscrapers.
Head to Hyde Park to spend hours at the Museum of Science and Industry (admission $18, $11 ages 3-11; 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, 773-684-1414, msichicago.org), home to a “working” coal mine and U-505 submarine.
Explore one of Chicago’s trendy neighborhoods, such as West Loop or Wicker Park/Bucktown, where you can fuel up at cafes and browse independent boutiques such as the T-Shirt Deli (1739 N. Damen Ave., 773-276-6266, tshirtdeli.com).
At night, catch some live music at Chicago Blues Bar (cover varies; 2519 N. Halsted St., 773-528-1012, chicagobluesbar.com) or a comedy show at the famed Second City (tickets vary; 1616 N. Wells St., 312-337-3992, secondcity.com).
Where to eat
Chicago is famous for its deep dish pizza, steak and Chicago style hot dog, which is topped with celery salt. Do not ask for ketchup, which will mark you as a New Yorker.
Satisfy a steak craving at the old school, wood-paneled Gene and Georgetti (500 N. Franklin St., 312-527-3718, geneandgeorgetti.com), located underneath the El tracks. The huge slabs of filet mignon, lamb and bone-in porterhouse come with heaping platters of fried potatoes.
For deep dish pizza, try local favorite Lou Malnati’s (1120 N. State St., 312-725-7777, loumalnatis.com) or Pequod’s Pizza (2207 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-327-1512, pequodspizza.com), which has a crispy cheese crust.
Follow the buzz to the hottest restaurant in town, the Chinese-themed Duck Duck Goat (857 W. Fulton Market, 312-902-3825, duckduckgoatchicago.com), helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Stephanie Izard (of another Chicago hot spot, Girl & the Goat).
Indulge your sweet tooth with a lemon pistachio donut at Stan’s Donuts (1560 N. Damen Ave., 773-360-7386, stansdonutschicago.com) or a buttermilk frozen yogurt at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (1505 N. Milwaukee Ave., 872-802-4668, jenis.com).
Where to stay
The historic Chicago Athletic Association (12 S. Michigan Ave., 312-940-3552, chicagoathletichotel.com), a former private athletic club built in 1890, opened last year after a two-year restoration. Many of its original features are intact, such as the intricate woodwork, while old fencing room flooring was repurposed to line the elevators’ walls. The bedrooms carry the gym motif as well, thanks to table legs wrapped in tennis racket grips and gymnast’s sawhorses placed at the foot of the bed. There’s a Shake Shack in the lobby if you’re needing a fix, and don’t miss the rooftop bar and restaurant Cindy’s, which overlooks Millennium Park.