Chicago is often referred to as America’s second city; dynamic, cosmopolitan and with a lake as big as an ocean. It’s one of our favorite big cities in the U.S.--a blend of different neighborhoods all with their own personality and make up. Recently we bumped into our friend Julie—who told us her ideal day in her hometown--for first timers and veterans alike.
Stay: Everyone loves the Peninsula, the soaring elegant lobby, and the modern comfortable rooms, known for their incredible service. The spa and gym take up 2 floors and there is an indoor pool with views of Lake Michigan. Best of all is the central location, close to the museums and by all the good shopping. Just a few minutes walk to the lake shore.
Sight See: I've taken tons of visitors, admittedly some lacking prior enthusiasm, on the Architectural Boat Tour, and all leave as fans. This is something everyone who visits or lives in Chicago must do at least once. It’s a 90-minute, docent led ride down the Chicago River, an engaging trip witnessing the rebirth of Chicago after the great fire. Tragedy became opportunity to the major architects of the day as Chicago needed to be rebuilt. Engaging stories make the trip fun. In the warmer months take a Twilight River tour, the city's architecture taking on a whole new light in the setting sun.
Shop: Chicago has 2 great women’s boutiques to rival anything in Paris or NYC-- Blake and Ikram. Ikram, named after owner Ikram Goldman, showcases the best of women’s fashion, featuring American, European and Japanese designers. Ikram herself got a lot of attention for dressing Michelle Obama. There is a café on the second floor if you need an afternoon coffee. The large, open gallery like space at Blake is where chic Chicagoans shop for European fashions. Housed in a beautiful old post office.
Lunch: Go to Le Colonial. I love the atmosphere at this upscale, chic French Vietnamese and the food is delicious.
Art Afternoon: The first stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Then head over to the Art Institute, stopping on the way at Millennium Park. You must spend a few minutes and take a few photo shots at Anish Kapoor’s Bean shaped Cloud gate sculpture. Next door, the new wing of the Art Institute designed by world renowned architect Renzo Piano, demands an hour or two of your time.
Dinner: So many choices, Chicago equals any foodie city in terms of great restaurants and chefs —Favorites include Top Chef Stephanie Izard’s The Girl and the Goat and Duck Duck Goat, Chef Brendan Sodikoff’s remake of a diner Au Cheval, ( you must get the burger,) , BYOB at 42 Grams and hot new Modern Japanese, Momotaro. Worth a try are James Beard award nominees Smyth and Roister.