Cleaner than NYC and less polluted than LA, Chicago is a beautiful city with a rich and unique culture that deserves a little more recognition. If Chicago wasn’t lovingly referred to as Chiberia during the winter, I would seriously consider living there. There’s no shortage of things to do in Chicago. The brick buildings remind you of it’s history as one of the first major industrial towns in the US. Chicago has everything a city needs to make a trip worth it; great food, famous museums and tons of entertainment. I put together a list of my top 5 things to do in Chicago so you can enjoy the city as much as I did. Plus, as Kanye’s hometown, how could I not show Chi-town some love.
Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge
No, I’m not recommending a Chicago style pizza place for your restaurant pick, I’ll leave that to another writer that actually likes that style of pizza (no offense don’t come for me!). What I will recommend though is possibly the best sushi in the city, plus some perfectly crafted drinks. Niu offers a dish I’m still searching for back in Miami; sweet potato tempura rolls. Everything I ordered was delicious including all three types of mojitos they serve. The location is perfect; you can grab something to eat and easily get somewhere else in the city afterwards. They have a beautifully decorated upscale interior as well as an outdoor patio that’s a prime people watching spot. You really can’t go wrong eating at Niu.
Art Institute of Chicago
A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the oldest museums in the US. The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection spans over 5,000 years, containing African and Amerindian pieces to modern pieces by Cy Twombly and Jackson Pollock. One of the largest museums in the US, it has about 300,000 pieces housed in eight buildings that cover almost one million square feet; so wear comfy shoes and be prepared to spend plenty of time during your visit.
Navy Pier is on the Chicago shoreline over looking Lake Michigan and makes for a gorgeous spot to catch the sunset. I almost wanted to find a random date just to take advantage of the scenery. After nightfall the city lights reflect off the water and there’s usually live music at the outdoor cafe. I spent my last night in Chicago watching an amazing fireworks show that’s put on during the summer every Friday totally free. Yes Chicago is in major debt but free fireworks shows are a totally legitimate use of tax dollars in my opinion.
Taste of Chicago Festival
Luckily my trip happened to coincide with the Taste of Chicago and though I didn’t get to spend much time checking it out, it’s a great idea to plan your trip to overlap with this festival or some of Chicago’s other awesome events like Lollapalooza or Pitchfork Music Festival. It really feels like you get the most out of your trip if you also get to see an artist you’re into while you’re there. Spending my first day in Chicago watching The Roots perform was the perfect start to my trip.
Chicago is full of interesting architecture from the mid to late 1800s to now. Even if you’re not that interested in architecture it’s impossible not to notice and appreciate the unique styles of buildings throughout downtown. You’re visiting the perfect city to get introduced to the beauty of building, so take advantage of it. Here’s an awesome list of buildings that deserve some attention.
Do you have any of your own lesser known recommendations for things do to in Chicago? I had such a great time visiting the city and I feel like it’s honestly an underrated trip. Even though I’ve been several times because I have family there, each time is better than the last. I’m already excited to plan my next trip to Chicago!