Tourist Trap: Double-decker bus tour
Like a local: Rent a bike and ride the Lakefront Trail through the city. Board the 22 bus in the Loop and ride it north along Clark Street.
Touristy but Local-Approved: Take a Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise or try a Segway tour through Millennium Park and Museum Campus.
|Adam and I approve of Segway tours.|
Tourist Activity: Top of the Sears Tower or Hancock Building
Like a Local: Locals know that the best view in town is from the top of the Hancock Building. The observatory is great, but if you want to skip the long line, head to The Signature Room, the restaurant on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building, and get the same great views for free while enjoying dessert or a cocktail.
Tourist Trap: Michigan Avenue (sometimes called the Magnificent Mile)
Like a Local: If you feel like dropping some serious cash, head to Oak Street where you'll find shops for Kate Spade, Prada, Vera Wang, and Hermès. My favorite place to shop in the city is along Armitage and Halsted Streets in Lincoln Park. Take the brown line to the Armitage stop and check out Art Effect for cute clothing and housewares, 1154 Lill Studio for custom handbags, and All She Wrote for gorgeous stationery.
Tourist Trap: Chicago is known for its comedy scene. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, and Bill Murray - just to name a few - all got their starts here. Tourists head to The Second City for improv shows.
Like a Local: The iO Theatre in Wrigleyville is my favorite place for comedy. Be sure to check out their signature Harold Show.
Tourist Trap: Navy Pier (This is the #1 tourist attraction in Illinois, and I seriously do not understand why. Don't feel bad for skipping it.)
Like a Local: Lincoln Park Zoo
|My godson and his brother up close and personal with a gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo|
Tourist Trap: Pizzeria Uno, Gino's East, Giordano's
Like a Local: Everyone has their favorites. Downtown, I like Lou Malnati's (gotta get the butter crust) and Pizano's (try the Mark's Special), but my hands-down favorite is Pequod's up in Lincoln Park. It's all about the caramelized crust from their seasoned cast iron pans. My mouth is watering just looking at this picture.
|Jeff Eats Chicago|
Chicago-Style Hot Dogs
Tourist Trap: Weiner Circle
Like a Local: Go to Portillo's and get a hot dog (don't you dare ask for ketchup) plus a slice of their famous chocolate cake.
My favorite thing about living in Chicago is the food. Here are my suggestions for everything you could ever want to put in your belly while you're in Chicago. (Yes, I have eaten at every single one of these places.)
Burgers: DMK Burger Bar, Kuma's Corner
Brunch: Bakin' and Eggs, Elly's Pancake House
Mexican: Flaco's Tacos, El Nuevo Mexicano, any of Rick Bayless's restaurants
Sushi: Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, Sunda, Kamehachi, Kyoto, Toro
Thai: Andy's Thai Kitchen, Noodles in the Pot
Sandwiches: JP Graziano's, Aje Cafe, New York Deli
Seafood: New England Seafood Company, Fish Bar, Devon Seafood Grill
Italian: Sapori Trattoria, RPM Italian, Vivo
Date Night/Special Occasion: HB, The Drawing Room, Sepia, Perennial Virant
Most people would include food and booze in the same category, but in Chicago, booze deserves its own recognition.
Brewery tours: Half Acre, Metropolitan
Brewpubs: Revolution Brewing, DryHop (owned by my friend Greg), Goose Island, Haymarket, Piece Pizzeria
Arcade Bars: Headquarters Beercade, Emporium
Craft cocktails: Barrelhouse Flat, The Violet Hour, The Aviary, Sable
Wine: Bin 36, DOC Wine Bar, Pops for Champagne
Whiskey: Delilah's (Lady Gaga's favorite)
Drinks with a view: The J.Parker, The Signature Lounge, Roof
Have you ever been to Chicago? What was your favorite thing that you did?