Chicago may be known as the “Second City” but it has plenty to offer that it often makes it the top summer destination, from the breathtaking architecture to the thousands of award-winning restaurants.
The Windy City gives visitors the chance to make the most out of the summer sunshine. You don’t really need many reasons to make it your next destination, but just in case you need some extra convincing, here are five reasons why you should travel to Chicago this summer.
1. Stunning Architecture
Chicago is home to the very first skyscraper. Days after a fire in 1871 destroyed over 2,000 acres of land and thousands of buildings, millions of people attended the World’s Columbian Exhibition.
Potter Palmer constructed the Palmer House Hotel a few months later and it was declared as the first-ever fire-proof building. Ever since then, the city has seen buildings of all shapes and sizes brighten up the skyline, becoming the Mecca for skyscrapers.
There are all sorts of ways to get a good view of the city’s architecture. You could head to one of the many rooftop bars and enjoy a drink or two while you bask in the city’s beauty.
You could also take the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and learn a thing or two. It’s a 90-minute boat tour and is narrated by an Architecture Foundation docent, making it a great way to take in the views and relax on a hot summer day.
The Chicago Water Taxi gives you a similar viewing experience as the River Cruise but for a smaller fee.
2. Grant Park
Grant Park is appropriately named as Chicago’s Front Yard. It’s the most famous park in the city, with 319 acres of land to explore. You’ll also find Millenium Park, the Buckigam Fountain, countless museums and the Shedd Aquarium all within Grank Park too.
There’s always something going on here. Particularly in the summer, there always seems to be a festival at the weekend. Enjoy free events like the Taste of Chicago, the largest outdoor food festival in the world, to concerts and entertainment from famous artists all across the park.
Another notable free event you don’t want to miss is the Grant Park Music Festival. It’s been running for nearly 100 years and brings over 300,000 people to the city every year. The Grant Park Orchestra plays throughout the day on the weekdays and a different music series over lunch all summer long at Millenium Park.
Finally, for all you dance lovers out there, the Chicago Summer Dance festival held in July in Grant Park is not to be missed. Learn how to walz, swing, salsa, ballroom, salsa, tango, big band, folk dance and more. The lessons are accompanied by live bands to make the whole experience that much better. More than 100,000 people come to Chicago to dance alone, making it the largest dance festival of its kind in the country.
Make sure you stay for a few days so you can experience it all. According to CoolThingsChicago, make sure you check out this list of the best hotels in the downtown or River North area of the city for your perfect stay.
3. The Food
This could easily be the sole reason to travel to Chicago this summer. The deep-dish pizza is world-famous – it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that was the only thing you ate on the entire trip.
Assuming you want to push the boat out a little further, there are plenty of other foods to experience. Notable mentions include Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs and the popcorn mix of caramel and cheese.
Don’t skip out on the farmer’s markets either. Not only are they great for just walking around and seeing what’s on offer, but they also contain some of the city’s best treats. For example, if you’re planning on a picnic or you just fancy something light before the big evening meal, then check out Lincoln Park’s Green City Market. There’s all sorts of fresh produce, organic meat and artisan breads to enjoy.
The farmer’s markets also give the chance to give your sweet tooth a treat or two. From made-to-order crepes to sugar-dusted donuts, the world is your oyster. There are sommothes, ice cream, pies and a whole lot more. All you need is a few bucks and you’re good to go. Plus, there’s live music to keep you entertained as you wander around.
4. The Midwest’s Hollywood
Chicago was once one of America’s hubs for the film industry. Essenay Studios, responsible for producing silent movies starring the likes of Charlie Chaplin, were all filmed in the north side of Chicago.
While movies migrated to the West Coast, the Windy City remains a popular destination for filming. It’s played host to several hit TV shows and movies such as:
- Perfect Strangers
- The Bob Newhart Show
- Family Matters
- Married with Children
- Batman Begins
- The Dark Knight
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Public Enemies
- The Break-up
- High Fidelity
- While You Were Sleeping
- Stranger Than Fiction.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll recognize many locations as you travel around the city. The Chicago Film Tour provides a deeper look at the film industry’s history. You’ll visit more than 30 film sites that have been used in at least 50 movies, from the north side all the way to Chinatown down south.
5. Summer Neighborhood Festivals
The final reason to travel to Chicago this summer is to enjoy the weekly neighborhood festivals. Every festival is a celebration of a certain food or drink, such as Pizza Fest and Wing Fest (dedicated to pizza and wings respectively). There’s also cultural festivals to enjoy too including Oktoberfest, art and crafts festivals like Lakeview Arts Fest and a whole lot more. You have to be there to experience it for yourself.
Attending a summer festival is a must-do in Chicago. They are suitable for people of all ages. The majority of neighborhood festivals are free to attend, but even when they’re not, you’ll only need a few bucks to get in. Once you’re in, there’s plenty to eat and drink, live music to watch and listen and vendors for a cute souvenir.