Who needs New York? Why Chicago should be your next US city break...
Enjoy culture, architecture and great food in America’s ‘second city’, says Trisha Andres.
It's known as America’s second city, but Chicago is first-rate on all fronts.
Think world-class museums, superb architecture, stylish restaurants and a cityscape framed by Lake Michigan. New openings include the Chicago Architecture Center, set in a Mies van der Rohe building, and non-stop connections from Ireland come courtesy of Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) and American (aa.com).
Nestled in the chic Gold Coast, the Viceroy (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) is all mid-century flair: white marble floors and brass fittings. Doubles from around €179 without breakfast.
The location of the Blackstone Hotel (theblackstonehotel.com) couldn’t be better: the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park (above) are a short walk away and Grant Park is just across the street. Doubles from €163 including breakfast.
Start your stroll in front of the Art Institute of Chicago above) on Michigan Avenue. Walk north to the museum’s two gardens, dotted with salvaged architectural fragments, fountains and sculptures. Exit at the south end of Millennium Park, and marvel at Anish Kapoor’s installation Cloud Gate before wandering over to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor music venue designed by Frank Gehry.
The Adler Planetarium has award-winning exhibitions for the whole family. But just outside the museum are twinkling views of Lake Michigan against Chicago’s magnificent skyscrapers.
The Architecture Foundation River Cruise (architecture.org; from $47/€40pp) is a 90-minute tour of more than 50 buildings, including Marina City and Mies van der Rohe’s AMA Plaza. It departs from the Chicago’s First Lady Cruises dock on the south side of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.
Magnificent Mile is the strip on Michigan Avenue lined with luxury boutiques and outlets not available in the UK, such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Run by chef Grant Achatz, The Aviary (theaviary.com) is a “molecular gastronomy” cocktail bar where rotary evaporators and infusion flasks are the order of the day. But don’t let the theatrics deceive you: the classic cocktails are spot on.
Bellemore (bellemorechicago.com) is a new restaurant with old-world glamour: Bauhaus sofas and stuffed birds perched above a marble bar, punctuated by contemporary flourishes. Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos’s menu is as decadent as the interiors: Osetra caviar-topped oyster pies, anyone?
Off the map
Hop on the CTA Green Line “L” for a trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park (flwright.org/tours). Sign up for the combination tour that also includes an audio-guided walk around the block to seven more Prairie-style residences.
Read more:The Chicago Bucket List: 39 things to see, do and eat in the Windy City!