13 Reasons to Love Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo
The Bean

My first trip to Chicago is just around the corner and I wasn’t sure what to do but luckily I found some help from Dani & Jess from The Globetrottergirls and Katie Hammel from Chicagologue. They were kind enough to share with me why they love Chicago and after experiencing these places my self, I’m sure I’ll love Chi-town too. Here is what they have to say about the Windy City:

1) Lincoln Park

“One of my favorite free things to do is to head to Lincoln Park to wander around, visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, and (on Saturday mornings) sample treats from the Green City Farmer’s Market.” -Katie

Lincoln Park Zoo
The kangaroos at Lincoln Park Zoo

2) The Beaches

“Each Chicago beach has it’s own personality. Want a party? Head to North Avenue Beach. If you’re looking for something more low key, head north. The Montrose Beach is great and is dog-friendly.” -Katie

“Chicago has several beaches and beach cafes which are well worth a visit. Our favorites are Oak Street Beach and North Ave Beach.” -Dani & Jess

3) Get Out of the Loop!

“Chicago has much more to it than just the downtown area, especially to the North. Bucktown, Lakeview, Andersonville, Wrigleyville are all charming neighborhoods.” -Dani & Jess

“Don’t limit your time to the Loop and Magnificent Mile areas. There is so much to see in Chicago in the neighborhoods, where I think you get a much better feel for how most people in the city live. I live in Lakeview and love it, though I also like Andersonville and Bucktown. On the 2nd Friday of every month there is a great free art crawl with wine in Pilsen, a Latino neighborhood south of the Loop (also great BYOB Mexican restaurants there). It’s so easy to hop on the el and explore.” -Katie

4) The Tours

“The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is one of the most popular tours. I love it, but it’s not the only worthwhile tour. The Film Tour takes to areas of the city you might not otherwise see, and the Vienna Beef sausage factory tour is surprisingly awesome and shows you a behind the scenes look at a Chicago food tradition.” -Katie

“The Chicago Architecture Boat Tour is not cheap ($25.00 Dollars if we remember it right) but it’s worth it. You get to see Chicago’s stunning architecture from the river, which is quite an unusual perspective, and you learn so much about the history and the buildings and other trivia” -Dani & Jess

Lincoln Park Zoo
On the boat tour


“For dining and drinking – save money with a BYOB restaurant. My faves are Schwa, Bonsoiree, and HB for more foodie/classy places, though there are plenty of cheap and casual BYOBs that are fun and delicious. Bottomless mimosa brunches are also big here.” -Katie

6) Brew-&-view Movie Theater

“If you wanna see a movie, this is the only movie theater where you’re allowed to drink.” -Dani & Jess

7) Go to a Cubs game

“A baseball game at the original, old-fashioned Wrigley Stadium will give you a feel for the ‘real’ Chicago and the locals.” -Dani & Jess

8) The John Hancock Building

“Unless you are set on walking out on the glass-bottomed ledges, skip the Willis Tower in favor of the John Hancock Building, where instead of paying for admission to the observation deck, you can just ride up to the lounge on the 96th floor and have a cocktail while you enjoy the view. I personally like the view from the Hancock better than the one from the Sears Tower anyway.” -Katie

Lincoln Park Zoo
Nighttime cocktails at the top of the John Handcock building

9) Nookies on Halsted

“This place has a great breakfast and they have two more branches.” -Dani & Jess

10) The Museums

“Check for free museum days to save money on your museum admission. Every museum offers several free days per year – the Art Institute is free every Thursday after 5pm and many other museums are even free every day.” -Katie

Lincoln Park Zoo
The Art Institute

11) The Parks

” There are often free events in Millennium and Grant Parks.” -Katie

“The famous ‘Bean’ cannot be missed! It’s located right downtown and it’s a great place to soak up some sun. Millenium Park is also home to the Art Institute and if you’re an art fan, you’ll enjoy it!” -Dani & Jess

Lincoln Park Zoo

12) Violet Hour

“One of my favorite bars in Chicago is Violet Hour – a speakeasy style bar with amazing cocktails.” -Katie

13) Food, Food, and More Food!

Tips on the best brunches, downtown dining, and foreign cuisine in Chicago, courtesy of Katie.

Thank you Dani & Jess and Katie!

Need even more reasons to love Chicago? Check out Nomadic Notes’ guide to Chicago.


9 thoughts on “13 Reasons to Love Chicago

  1. Have a great time – can’t wait to hear how you like it and which places you’ll check out when you’re there. Katie seems to agree with us on quite a few things and I guess the Architecture River tour is a MUST-DO 🙂 Haven’t been to Violet Hour yet, which Katie recommended, but will put it on the list for our next visit.

  2. We just made our first visit to Chicago and it was wonderful. You are right to do the boat tour – we did one that took us on the river and the lake. It’s striking to look back on the city from the lake. Food…this is such a food city. Try Bice on Ontario.

    1. Thanks for the food suggestion! It’s definitely my favorite part of traveling so if Chicago is focused on that I think it will be a good trip. I’m also excited about the boat tour too.

    1. I have heard the winters are unbearable but I was surprised by the palm trees too. I can’t wait to see them with my own two eyes 🙂

  3. Yay Chicago!
    Great list. Being that I live here (when i’m not traveling)…I LOVE it!

    So true about the beaches–I always have to remind people how our entire city is on water. The summer is amazing with beach volleyball, running, boating, biking, and all around beach fun!

    And – yep – the best part is the neighborhoods. I live up in Lakeview and love it. My favorite hoods are Andersonville and Lincoln Square – both like villages in the city.

    I moved here 10 years ago and truly fell in love with it. And the great part? Most people that live here love it too!

    1. Hi Lisa, I had such a great time when I went in September. I took a bike ride along the lake and that was my favorite part. I still have to blog about all I did there but hopefully I can go back again and visit all the other neighborhoods like Lakeview.

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