Monday, July 20, 2009

My 10 favorite things about Chicago



Between the last week of July and the first week of August, my family is moving from Chicago to Connecticut.
I’m going to miss Chicago, a.k.a. Chi-town (pronounced shy-town), the Windy City, the Second City, and the City of Broad Shoulders.
Here’s a top 10 list of my favorite things about Chicago (other than family and friends):

  1. Lake Michigan: Like a beautiful inland sea, this great lake provides a stunning blue border to Chicago’s east. There are lots of great beaches and parks along its shores in Chicago and the North Shore suburbs.

  2. Chicago-style food: Deep-dish pizza and Vienna Beef hot dogs, also Italian beef sandwiches, gyros, etc. My favorite thick pizza in Chicago is Lou Malnati’s, multiple locations. For Chicago-style wieners, I’d go with Irving’s for Red Hot Lovers in Wilmette, Ill., or Mustard’s Last Stand in Evanston, Ill.

  3. The culture: Chicago is a melting pot of cultures with immigrants from around the globe. People here live up to the hard-working blue collar ethic that built the city. They’re a hardy people too, putting up with Chicago’s two seasons: Winter and construction. Chicagoans also like to have a good time as evidenced by the city’s many festivals, like Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, Chicago Blues Festival, etc. Hey, and it’s President Barack Obama’s hometown. That’s some nice bragging rights.

  4. Museums and attractions: Lots of things to do in Chicago, especially with children. The Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are some of our faves. Then there’s Millennium Park with the Crown Fountain and Cloudgate (a.k.a the Bean).

  5. Chicago sports: Sports in Chi-town are about more than “da Bears” and “da Bulls.” We’ve also got the Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks. Plus, the city has a good shot at winning the 2016 Summer Olympics. (The winning city will be announced Oct. 2.)

  6. Lake Shore Drive: Driving south into the city from the north suburbs along LSD is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Lake Michigan and beaches to the east of the highway and parks to the west (at least until you hit the Gold Coast). As you drive south you pass Lincoln Park and enter downtown with a great view of its wonderful skyscrapers.

  7. The architecture: I love the Chicago skyline with the John Hancock Center to the north and the Sears Tower (just renamed the Willis Tower on July 16) to the southwest. Chicago is world renowned for its architecture. A top tourist activity is the architectural boat tours on the Chicago River.

  8. Chicago traditions: You’ve got to love such Chicago traditions as dyeing the river green for St. Patrick’s Day or putting Christmas wreaths on the Art Institute lion statutes and lights on the trees along the Magnificent Mile shopping district for the holiday season.

  9. Theater: Chicago is home to many great theater companies. I’ve particularly enjoyed shows at the legendary Second City comedy club and the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Chicago also has the Steppenwolf, Goodman and Lookingglass theater companies, among other talented troupes.

  10. Public transportation: Sure, the CTA’s L trains could use an upgrade, but the CTA and suburban Metra train lines provide great public transportation service. This is especially true for getting downtown and back from the suburbs. It’s vastly better than public transportation in other metro areas where I’ve lived. D.C. has a good rail line, but it can be slow, inconvenient and doesn’t go everywhere you need it to. L.A.’s train service is a joke.

Photos:
Chicago skyline and “the Bean” (from Wikipedia) and Lou Malnati’s pizza (from the restaurant chain’s Web site).

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