Being the Chicago fanatics that we are, we wanted to lend an experienced hand to all the conference attendees and foodies who’ll be traveling to Chicago this year. Knowing that we can’t give a personal tour to every single visitor, we decided to put together a list of Chicago’s greatest – a virtual roadmap to the best things to do that are certain to make you fall in love with Chi-Town (although, locals never really call it that…just so you know).
Image of Cloud Gate at Millennium Park from This Is Colossal
Take a Cloud Gate selfie at Millennium Park
Ever since 2006, Cloud Gate (aka: “The Bean”) has been charming tourists and locals alike. Snuggled comfortably in Chicago’s Millennium Park, “The Bean” has become one of the most popular – and most photographed – landmarks in Chicago.
Get cultured at the Chicago Cultural Center
As if the world’s largest Tiffany-stained glass dome weren’t impressive enough, the Chicago Cultural Center – built in 1897 as the first permanent home of the Chicago Public Library – is also home to art exhibitions, music series’, theater and dance presentations and more. Come by for a tour, or browse one of the exhibits. And, it’s all free.
Hitch a ride on the CTA
Commuting like a local is a great way to see and experience the city. Hop on one of eight train lines (or the “El” as us locals call it) or 129 bus routes and get pretty much anywhere you need to go. Plan your trip ahead of time with the CTA Trip Planner, or just wing it. All you need is a transit pass.
Eat like a local at these famous Chicago favorites
Chicago’s famous for a lot of things, but one of the more notable has to be the food. From deep dish pizza to Chicago-style hot dogs (NO KETCHUP) to Italian beef, we’re definitely proud of the food that defines us. Get your fill at these local favorites: Portillo’s, Lou Malnati’s and Al’s Beef.(which all happen to be part of our (River North & Streeterville Food Tour).
Conquer the concrete jungle with the Chicago Architecture Foundation
Whether it’s touring the city’s amazing architecture foot, by boat, or even by Segway, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is a leading organization in architecture and design. And while the famous Chicago River boat tours are on winter break until April, don’t fret – there’s still plenty of architecture tours to indulge in. See what’s happening this month with the CAF.
Experience the wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair at The Field Museum
Taking place right here in Chicago, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition put our fair city on the map. Get a rare look at the artifacts and specimens from the fair (that eventually helped launch the Museum itself) in this limited-time exhibit. Visit The Field Museum website for more information and to plan your visit.
Interested in more info about the World’s Fair? Check out The World’s Fare Food Tour where we take you through a short story of the effect the fair had on the Chicago Food Scene. While you don’t traverse the exact location of the fair, we bring you into the neighborhoods that were most affected by this amazing event. Plus, it’s our happy hour experience that includes a drink pairing at each of the four tasting locations – how can you go wrong?
Plan your own adventure with the Choose Chicago app
Choose Chicago — the city’s official visitors’ site — offers a very robust mobile app that includes hotel and transportation information, activities in your area, local deals for instant savings and more. Download it now for iPhone and Android.
So, whether you’re visiting Chicago for the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference or just coming to town for a weekend, there’s never a shortage of great things to do. And while we tried our best to recap some of the best, we know that the list of Chicago loves is infinite.
Have a favorite Chicago pastime that we didn’t list here? Share them in the comments section below, or send us a Tweet at @ChiFoodPlanet