We voluntarily swapped Texas temperatures for a snowstorm in Chicago. At the intersection of Chicago Restaurant Week and Theatre Week, we were lucky to have plenty of excuses to stay inside. When we did manage to stay outside for longer than five minutes, we found a beautiful Winter Wonderland. Snow or sun, these activities should not be missed in Chi-Town.
#1- Sip on bottomless mimosas
Although brunch is very popular in Texas, bottomless brunches are hard to come by. New York City remains the indisputable number one in the bottomless brunch field, but Chicago offers great competition. Our mimosa carafe was never empty, the crowd was loud and cheery and the eggs perfectly runny. No better way to get through a snowstorm!
#2- Spend an afternoon brewery hopping
Chicago is home to breweries of all sizes, many of them selling their beers nationwide. Goose Island Brewery is one of those and considered an institution in Chicago. The Fulton Street Taproom serves up flights of Goose Island beers in cute tasting glasses. For a less traditional experience, we headed to Forbidden Root Brewery. Their botanic beers couldn’t impress us, but did result in a relaxing power nap.
#3- Admire American art at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago houses a world-class collection of impressionist, modern and American art. You can easily spend a whole Sunday morning wandering through the galleries. Take a coffee break at the inviting Caffè Moderno on the second floor.
#4- Capture Chicago through The Bean
Right next to the Art Institute lies Millenium Park, home to the world’s most famous bean. Cloud Gate offers a unique view of the city and has thus become an essential photo op. A quick one in minus 10 ºC, as proven by the unusually low turnout.
#5- Catch a show in a retro theatre
Chicago Theatre Week brought us to The Den Theatre. What stood out even more than the show was the interior of the theatre building: a labyrint of candle lit rooms, linked together through several bars. A French 75 and the speakeasy feel would have been complete.
#6- Savor Chicago Restaurant Week
My inner food lover was very excited to discover that we booked our trip during Chicago Restaurant Week. During this happy week in early February, gourmet restaurants all over town offer a fixed price dinner menu for $33 (or $44). Feel full after the first course, have dessert nonetheless and drink lots of perfectly paired wine. I personally can’t think of a better way to spend a cold February evening.
#7- Walk it off along the river
The Chicago Riverwalk takes you on a promenade through the heart of downtown Chicago, offering amazing views along the way. The river-front path runs all the way from Lake Shore Drive to Lake Street, and can be accessed from every bridge in between.
#8- Take in the skyline from Navy Pier
The Windy City lives up to its name at Navy Pier, an entertainment strip that ventures out into Lake Michigan. There was not much entertainment going on at this time of year, but the stunning views of Chicago behind a frozen Lake Michigan were well worth the frozen toes.
#9- Stand in line for a bird’s eye view
The Willis Tower Skydeck towers out 103 stories above Chicago. If that’s not dizzying enough, there are glass observation boxes extending from the building. To see Chicago like a bird, a long line in the Willis Tower basement awaits. Considering Chicago temperatures, a warm basement was not the worst place to stand in line for three hours. The spectacular views were worth the wait.
#10- Dive into a deep dish pizza
Don’t leave the city before you’ve had a slice of deep dish pizza. Where the Big Apple and the Windy City both have a similar brunch game going on, their pizza couldn’t be more different. Giordano’s deep dish pizza was very tasty, but no pizza can top a $1 slice in the streets of New York.