First Time In Chicago: 10 Favorites

We voluntarily swapped Texas temperatures for a snowstorm in Chicago. At the intersection of Chicago Restaurant Week and Theatre Week, we we’re lucky to have plenty of excuses to stay inside. When we did manage to stay outside for longer then five minutes, we found a beautiful Winter Wonderland. Snow or sun, these activities should not be missed in Chi-Town.

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#1- Take boozy brunch to the next level

I experienced New York’s excellence in the category Bottomless Brunch first hand. Texas on the other hand, not so much. That’s why I assumed this must be a Northern phenomenon. And Chicago proved me right. The mimosa carafe was never empty, the crowd loud and cheery and the eggs perfectly runny. No better way to get through a snowstorm! Our spot-on brunch experience was served in Troquet River North.

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#2- Spend an afternoon brewery hopping

Chicago is home to breweries of all sizes, many of them selling their beers throughout the nation. Goose Island brewery is one of those and considered an institution in Chicago. The best thing about the tasting in their Fulton Street Taproom were the cute tasting glasses, which does tell something about the beer. We gave it another shot at Forbidden Root Brewery. Their botanic beers appeared to have a relaxing effect, as our intended power nap turned into an entire Saturday night.

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#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 galeries. Take a coffee break at the inviting Caffè Moderno on the second floor.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#7- Walk it off along the river

The Chicago Riverwalk takes you on a promenade through the heart of downtown Chicago, offering amazing view 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.

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#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. Not much entertainment this time of year, but the terrific view of Chicago’s skyline behind a frozen Lake Michigan was well worth the frozen toes.

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#9- Stand in line for a bird’s eye view

All happy faces at 1,353 ft above street level. What nobody ever mentions is the three-hour wait in the Willis Tower’s basement before you can take the elevator to the 103rd floor. Topped off with another line to get to the glass overlooks. You decide if the spectacular views are worth the wait.

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#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. There, I’ve said it.

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