I'm going to be visiting Chicago for the first time in mid September for a business conference lasting about 5 days ending on a weekend. Is there anything I shouldn't miss while I'm there? I am lucky enough to be traveling with colleagues who are also friends and are willing to explore the entire city! I am already planning on going to the Koons exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art and have heard Topolobambo is excellent for Mexican food.I'm especially interested in things that are unique to Chicago.
Hi Ngallag. LUCKY YOU! My husband used to travel to Chicago often. We had so much fun. You definitely want to visit the Shedd's Aquarium. Try to visit as early as possible so you can watch the feeding activity and before the groups arrive. We enjoyed the "Architectural" Boat tour along the river. This is a nice boat trip highlighting some of the wonders of the downtown buildings architectural styles. If the weather is great, you really will enjoy. If there is a sports team in town, you might want to take in a game. If you are old enough to remember Saturday Night Live with John Belusi and the skit about Cheesesteaks, you might want to visit the "Billy Goat" restuarant. (I think it is still there!) Very interesting. Check with your concierge. Chicago is also known for jazz so you might want to do an evening of jazz///
The architectural boat tour IS great. Chicago is a great walking city, the architecture and the sculptures are fascinating. There are usually many arts activities going on - Hubbard Street Dance is amazing.
A real treat is a visit to Second City where John Belushi, Bill Murray, and many other comedians got their training and start. Plan ahead to get tickets.
Don't miss a cocktail and the view from the lounge in the John Hancock building!
If you are asking for "specifically Chicago" on the food side you should try to make sure to grab a true Chicago Dog. The best ones are going to be Wrigleyville and north. Anthony Bourdain had a special that was pretty accurate. He suggested this one. I concur, but if you are staying in downtown Chicago, with traffic, it will be painful to get to.
Tony loves hot dogs, or any other meat in tube form for that matter. So who has the better hot dog, Chicago or his hometown, New York? Tony discovers that Chicago takes the blue ribbon in this competition at Hot Dougs, the home of hot dog perfection. Not only does Hot Dougs serve the best of the best in hot dogs, but they also serve french fries fried in pure duck fat and of course the foie gras dog. Cant beat that!
Address: 3324 North California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618
Despite the reviews being all over the map, I stand by my recommendation of the Twisted Spoke. Weird yes? But if you are into bloody mary's at all, you will forgive them practically anything. The road rash bloody mary is to die for and I still crave it. People go there for burgers, but I actually recommend the brunch menu, which is really creative. I don't live in Chicago anymore, but I use to crave their peanut butter french toast.
I'm not into it, but everyone should try the deep dish pizza that Chicago has to offer.
If it's still warm out, you should definitely hang out in the Gold Coast and check out bars like Cactus. It's a total scene, but it's outdoors and interesting to watch the passersby.
As you mentioned, Topolobampo is excellent, but you can try Frontera, its sister restaurant which is right next door. Frontera is more casual and less expensive and the food is outstanding. I also heartily recommend Cafe Iberico, an authentic Spanish restaurant. You can get everything from gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic in olive oil) to an excellent paella. The Berghoff is Chicago's oldest restaurant and serves authentic German fare. One of my favorite restaurants in the Windy City is Big Bowl, where you can get excellent Pan-Asian food in a casual setting. Definitely make sure you try some deep dish pizza. Everyone has their own favorite, but definitely try Uno, Lou Malnati's, Giordano's or any of the other famous pizza pie purveyors. The Lincoln Park Zoo is very good. It's open every day of the year and it's free. The Shedd Aquarium is the largest indoor aquarium in the world and it's definitely worth visiting. Navy Pier is a fun place to sightsee. Have fun in Chicago. It's a great town.