Though often called the Second City, Chicago has plenty of first-rate attractions. This vibrant metropolis, sprinkled with a little Midwestern wholesomeness, is home to dazzling architecture (the skyscraper was born here) and some of the best museums in the country. Add stylish new boutique hotels and a red-hot culinary scene to the mix and you have everything you need for a fun-filled weekend getaway. Here's what to do in Chicago on your next visit!
What to Do in Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago, housed in a beautiful beaux arts building on Michigan Avenue, is home to several national treasures, including American Gothic by Grant Wood and Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, not to mention European masterpieces like Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte and Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist.
In Millennium Park, you can catch an outdoor concert on the Great Lawn and snap a selfie in front of the famously reflective Cloud Gate sculpture (most commonly referred to as the Bean). Kids will love a ride on the Centennial Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel on nearby Navy Pier. You can also sign up for architecture-themed cruises from the pier, which travels along the Chicago River, passing the city's most famous skyscrapers.
Still haven't been to a Cubs game? Make this the year! After Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field, on Chicago's North Side, is the oldest baseball stadium (built in 1914). Sip a beer and take in the iconic attractions, including the ivy-covered outfield wall, the bleachers on the roofs of the neighboring buildings, and maybe even super-fan Bill Murray "singing" Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
Where to Stay in Chicago
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago (from $264 per night, priceline.com), located in the hip River North neighborhood, is a super stylish property with an eye-catching Cubist-influenced facade. Nosh on burrata pizza at Dolce Italian, and be sure to check out the fourth-floor 10 Rooftop Lounge for impressive skyline views. Don't stay up too late though: You'll definitely want to get an early start to hit the shops along nearby Michigan Avenue, aka the Magnificent Mile.
For a classic Chicago hotel experience, stay at the Hilton Chicago (from $212 per night, expedia.com), which opened in 1927 and has hosted everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Michael Jordan. The lobby is known for its grand twin staircases, and many of the 1,544 rooms face onto Grant Park and Lake Michigan beyond. After a day of museum hopping (the Art Institute and The Field Museum are within walking distance), grab a bite in the popular 720 South Bar & Grill.
One of the most luxurious hotels in the city, the Langham Chicago (from $495 per night, hotels.com), is housed within a modernist Mies van der Rohe-designed skyscraper. Enjoy the stellar city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the plush rooms, pamper yourself in the Chuan Spa (try the ahh-inducing hot-stone massage), and have a glass of Champagne in the Chicago River-facing cocktail lounge before settling into a meal at Travelle Kitchen + Bar.
Where to Eat and Drink in Chicago
Stephanie Izard, chef of longtime Chicago favorite Girl and the Goat, recently opened Duck Duck Goat, a gorgeous restaurant with modern Chinese cuisine in the foodie haven of West Loop. Nearby is The Publican, a beer-centric hotspot with communal tables and a pork-heavy menu. And over in Wicker Park, sister restaurant Publican Anker has become a go-to gastropub for gourmet burgers and other comfort food.
For a splurge-worthy meal, book a table at three-Michelin-starred Alinea, helmed by lauded chef Grant Achatz, a pioneer in molecular gastronomy. The tasting menus change daily, but expect wildly creative dishes incorporating foam, gelatin, and gold leaf. Another top-tier spot that's been awarded three Michelin stars and has innovative tastings menus (scallops with nasturtium, miyazaki beef with kaffir lime) is Grace from chef Curtis Duffy.
Chicago is known for its jazz, and one of the best places to catch some world-class live music is Buddy Guy's Legends, owned, of course, by blues guitarist Buddy Guy (he often shows up unannounced to jam on stage with the headliner). If you're craving a classic martini, head to the swanky cocktail lounge at the Hotel Peninsula, a favorite of Chi-Town bankers, celebrities, and pro athletes. And if you want to hang with the beautiful people, make a beeline to the Roof bar atop the Wit Hotel.
More from Techpluz: