Discover Chicago and all that jazz
- 22 December 2015
Chicago has the best of everything. There are miles of beautiful lakeside beaches, a staggering array of cutting edge public sculpture and art and a fabulous history of gin joints, jazz clubs and American dreamers. Although it was only founded in 1837, it’s now the third largest city in the US, home to top class shopping, blues venues and comedy clubs. It’s also one of the country’s most multicultural cities, with 77 distinct neighbourhoods providing a mouthwatering buffet of international cuisine (with a Chicago twist).
The must sees
The home of the skyscraper isn’t New York City but Chicago, where the Home Insurance Building reached a (then) staggering 10 stories back in 1884. Today, the skyline today boasts the two tallest buildings in the US, including the Wills Tower, which offers a vertigo inducing view from a glass observation point called The Ledge.
Art lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see The Art Institute of Chicago, which shows works by Seurat, Matisse and O’Keefe, while The Untouchable Tour offers an irreverent two hour trip into the city’s gangster past. To unwind from your trip to the days of Prohibition, take a walk down the Magnificent Mile, an avenue of top drawer dining, retail and fashion.
The Windy City has a bunch of Michelin star restaurants, but only one with three stars is the experimental Alinea. You’ll need to book tickets (not reservations) months in advance but the four and a half hour degustation menu is well worth it, with items including Blueberry (with buttermilk, sorrel and macadamia) and Burn Morels (with lamps, fiddlehead ferns and miner’s lettuce). Of course Chicago is also home to the deep dish pizza, so dive into a world of cheese at Louisa’s Pizza and Pasta, which blends traditional Italian recipes with local twists. There’s also Gino’s East of Chicago for a heart stopping Meaty Legend. And the only place to try a Chicago style hot dog (or big dawg) is Wrigley Field, where a victory from the Chicago Cubs makes everything taste sweeter.
All play and no work
Chicago has a long tradition of cocktail bars and speakeasies offering drinks ranging from the traditional to the experimental. You might find an old fashioned whisky sour at gin joint The Library, or be bewitched at Bernard’s Bar by The Witch and the Warlock. Of course you may prefer your favourite tipple accompanied by all that jazz (or blues), so take a trip to Rosa’s Lounge or Buddy Guy’s Legends.
A great place to watch the world go by
Millennium Park offers a feast for the eyes and ears, with gardens, sculpture and free concerts set among 24.5 acres of a former industrial wasteland. Anish Kapoor’s stunning Cloud Gate (known by locals as ‘the bean’) offers an irresistible photo opportunity for tourists, while concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Great Lawn draw locals to this urban oasis, handily located across the road from the Art Institute of Chicago.