5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

#BlogHerFood15 takes place in the Windy City this year. As a Chicago native, I might be The! Most! Excited! person on the BlogHer team.

Welcoming people to my city is one of my very favorite activities (So, hey there, welcome!), especially when I get to show them what Chicago has to offer. I even wrote a book about things to do in Chicago, so you might say I’m a bit of an expert.

While we’re going to keep you very busy this November 6-7, you might find yourself with a little bit of extra time and the desire to fill it with something fun. I was asked to write about five things to do in Chicago, but in keeping with my “go big or go home” philosophy, I’m giving you five categories of activities, with helpful examples.

Shop ’Til You Drop.

The Hyatt Regency, our host hotel, is only steps away from Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile.

 

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!
Image: Bill Rice

 

The Mag Mile is the stretch of Michigan Avenue that runs from the Chicago River to Oak Street and is home to lots of upscale shops and restaurants, including Bloomingdale's, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Neiman Marcus, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and many more.

Even if you’re only window shopping, the Mag Mile is a fun way to spend some time. Bonus shopping tip: Walk or take a cab west from the Hyatt Regency to Macy’s on State Street. Formerly--and forever in the hearts of natives like me--Marshall Field & Company, the store is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is home to the largest (and truly breathtaking) Favrile Tiffany glass ceiling in the world.

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Reach New Heights.

Chicago is home to two of the most recognized buildings in the world, and you can get an adrenaline rush along with a spectacular view of the city by visiting each one.

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Willis Tower--still and always and forever Sears Tower to us natives--is home to The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago. The Ledge consists of four glass boxes on the 103rd floor that visitors enter and look out onto the city while seeming to hang in midair.

360 Chicago is 1,000 feet above ground in the John Hancock building, where visitors can get a birds-eye view of Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. TILT, part of 360 Chicago,  offers downward-facing views via eight windows that tilt outward by thirty degrees (yikes!).

Bonus sky-high tip: Check out the Signature Lounge at the 96th in the John Hancock building for gorgeous night-time viewing of the city for the cost of a cocktail (or two).

Park Yourself.

Millennium Park, just a few blocks south of our host hotel at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, is home to Anish Kapoor’s reflective Cloud Gate sculpture—unofficially known as “The Bean”—but there is so much more to see.

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Check out the Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue that has a stunning steel band shell and trellis, making it a work of art.

The Crown Fountain, two 50-foot, glass-block towers on either end of a reflecting pool, projects images of hundreds of Chicagoans and is fascinating to watch both in the daytime and at night when the towers are lit up.

Lurie Garden, with its vast collection of perennials, shrubs, trees, and grasses, creates a peaceful oasis right in the middle of the city for visitors who need to reconnect with nature.

The serpentine shape of the BP bridge is functional beauty at its finest; walk it from Millennium Park to the other end and it lands in the city’s newest haven for families, Maggie Daley Park.

Bonus park tip: Don’t just take group photos (or selfies) in front of The Bean; make sure you check out its underbelly before you leave. It’s funhouse-worthy!

Absorb Some History, Art, and Architecture.

Fort Dearborn was built adjacent to the Chicago River in 1803, thirty-four years before Chicago was incorporated as a city. It was destroyed in the Fort Dearborn Massacre in 1812.

When you walk to the corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue (and unless you stay inside the hotel for the duration of the conference, there’s no way to avoid it), look down to check out the brass plates embedded in the sidewalk, marking its original location.

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Head north on Michigan Avenue and check out the countless rocks and bricks brought back by Chicago Tribune correspondents—including pieces of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the Alamo, the Parthenon, and many more—embedded in the outer walls of the very Gothic Tribune Tower.

South on Michigan Avenue, across from Millennium Park, you’ll find the neoclassical Chicago Cultural Center. Formerly the city’s central library, this building is full of breathtakingly beautiful marble and tile mosaics.

Make sure to stop and admire the 38-foot Tiffany glass dome, the largest in the world.

Enjoy the fine architecture of Chicago at your own pace by strolling along the Riverwalk. You'll find stairs that lead to it on the northwest corner of Wacker and Michigan.

Bonus art tip: Chicago is well known for its public art collection, which numbers more than 700 pieces scattered all over the city.

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Check out the Picasso (located at Daley Plaza), Calder’s Flamingo (located at the Federal Center), the Art Institute lions and, of course, The Bean, but keep your eyes open everywhere you go, because that’s where the art is!

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

See a Show.

Chicago is chock-full of entertainment options. While we have amazing theater offerings (we’re the testing ground for many Broadway shows), you might want to investigate two categories for which we’re famous: improv comedy and blues music.

 

5 Fun Things To Do in Chicago!

 

Modern American improv has its roots in Chicago; in fact, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, and Chris Farley are only a few who got their start at Second City.

You can catch some on-the-spot hilarity at theaters like iO Chicago, ComedySportz, UP Comedy Club, The Annoyance Theatre, and the mother of them all, Second City.

Chicago blues evolved out of classic southern blues and well-known musicians in this genre included Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Muddy Waters. Some of the best places to enjoy live blues performances are Blue Chicago, Crossroads at the House of Blues Chicago, Kingston Mines, Rosa’s Lounge, and my favorite, Buddy Guy’s Legends.

Bonus show tips: For traditional and not-so-traditional theater on a smaller-than-Broadway scale, check out the calendars of the Greenhouse Theater, the Victory Gardens Biograph, the Apollo Theater, and the Athenaeum Theatre, just to name a few.

How about a concert? Janet Jackson plays the Chicago Theatre November 3-8 and Don Henley plays there on November 9.

I even have a bonus category for you: FOOD!

Naturally we brought #BlogHerFood15 to Chicago for good reason: It’s a great town for foodies! Many well-known chefs have restaurants here, including Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco), Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner), Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, and The Aviary), just to get your juices flowing.

Great food can be found everywhere you turn in this city, so consider experiencing the creative, delicious side of Chicago off-site if you have a couple hours to spare.

I don’t know about you, but this post has made me even more excited about #BlogHerFood15, and I live here! Is it time yet? See you soon!

Register now: Space is limited.
See the agenda and speakers.
Sign up for the #BlogHerFood15 newsletter for announcements and opportunities.

 

 

Melisa Wells

@melisalw

Suburban Scrawl

 

 

 

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