Chicago is a big-time sports town with die hard fans for their Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and the World Champion Chicago White Sox. Even if you don’t like baseball, you’ll have the time of your life just like Ferris Bueller as you take in a Cubs game at Wrigley. The Windy City does a nice job blending in the new while maintaining its old world charm. Incorporated as a town in 1833, Chicago has grown to be the nation’s third-largest city (with a population of more than 3 million), the birthplace of the first skyscraper and one of the few international US cities. Chicago today offers a truly cosmopolitan flare that adds to any visitor’s big-city adventure – a beautiful city in the Midwest heartland that radiates a spirit of energy.
With 77 neighborhoods (yes, we did say 77), you can go from one to the next in a split second before you realize you’re in a different area with completely new sights and sounds. Having unmistakable character, each of this city’s neighborhoods brings a whole new array of shops, restaurants, attractions, historical elements, and intrigue.
Shopping on Michigan Ave. is truly magnificent, so make sure you work that into the plan.
Chicago is also known for its deep dish pizza, so you must try some while in town. Yes, the toppings are buried under the sauce, but trust us…it is fantabulous and worth the 40 minute wait. We like Gino’s East and Giordanno's, but as you will see there are many other solid choices.
Whether you want to cozy up in a casual neighborhood bar or don your best black dress for some late night cocktails, Chicago has it all! Here are just some of our journeyPod Picks:
RiNo – A sleek River North lounge (the name’s a spin on this), RiNo boasts low-slung seating, spotted “pony” chairs, kudo horn chandeliers, exposed beams and a bar top made with the midsection of a 200-year-old tree. Open till 4 a. m. , RiNo lures locals and celebrities for after-hours action with a relaxed vibe. The music ranges from the latest hip-hop to 80’s flashbacks, and the drink menu features everything from PBR in a can, to signature martinis and VIP table bottle service. No promises, but those of you hoping to beat the hefty cover are advised to arrive earlier than 11pm. And for all you girls out there – the restrooms contain goodies galore (you’ll find everything from cosmetics to lollipops. ) RiNo is located at 343 W. Erie St. (at Orleans St. ).
Carol’s Pub (Lincoln Park) – Talk about a traditional honky-tonk, Carol’s Pub will remind you of the days when country music (and Uptown), belonged mostly to hillbillies. Drawing an eclectic crowd from early morning to early morning, this bare-bones venue with cheap booze and an “anyone’s welcome” vibe is irresistible! Founded in 1973, Carol’s Pub features dart tournaments on weeknights, and a house band on weekends. The bar menu offers basic beverages – namely beer, mixed drinks and Jaeger shots; and food options that include your typical bar eats like burgers, pizza and hot wings. If you’re in a karaoke swinging mood, stop by on a Thursday night. Carol’s Pub is located at 4659 N. Clark (at Leland St. ).
Rockit Bar and Grill (River North) - Perhaps as penitence for making so many folks wait behind Le Passage’s velvet rope, Chicago club impresarios Billy Dec and Brad Young opened up this new Wild Wild West meets big city multi-level space with upscale bar and grill. Promising a laid-back vibe that “checks the attitude at the door, ” Rockit is a great destination if you’re in the mood for fussied-up comfort food and a Western-chic late-night lounge scene. Boasting a large first-floor dining area and an upstairs lounge with pool tables and plasma TVs, which celeb-designer Nate Berkus (you know you’ve seen him on “Oprah”!) has designed – you’ll find comfy chocolate leather chairs, wood tables and exposed brick walls adorned with rustic elements. Specialty “Rocktails" include fruity concoctions like the Bomb Pop (raspberry and lemon vodkas, blue Curacao, lemonade and grenadine) and the Rockit Root Beer (Stoli Vanil, Godiva white-chocolate liqueur, and root beer). The place is located at 22 W. Hubbard St. (bet. Dearborn State Sts. ).
Fulton Street Lounge (West Loop) - Nestled among the warehouses of the West Loop (and right next to high-end dining spot Follia) and in the thick of the booming Fulton Market District, this spot draws the beautiful people for after-work cocktails and late night libations. The open setting allows local crowds to build without ever getting too cramped, and the chic minimalistic décor adds class (and not haughty-taughty-ness). Groups here tend to convene on the comfortable plush seating at low, game-style tables; or find their way to the summer patio. Check out the lounge’s creative, seasonal martinis. Found at 955 W. Fulton Market.
Suite Lounge (Old Town) – Expect a New York loft-like atmosphere when you arrive at this 1,800 square-foot space with a drink list that reads more like a dessert menu (think: martinis rimmed with graham cracker crumbs, Pop Rocks or frosting). Boasting a 20- to 40-something crowd, the space features two bars, tables and booths, and several private nooks for those who want to seclude themselves from the scene. Suite Lounge features house and trance and electric lounge style music influenced by Ibiza DJs. Know this: despite its sexy interior, Suite Lounge encourages a surprisingly relaxed attitude towards dress – jeans are the standard for men and women, and you can wear your Pumas without a hassle. The lounge is located at 1446 N. Wells St. (at Schiller St. ).
D. O. C. Wine Bar (Lincoln Park) – Although the name refers to the European wine designation, it also happens to be the initials for Dunlays on Clark – which boasts geometric design elements like large porthole windows, a high lumber ceiling and a shiny metal backbar and skylight. Perfect for wine aficionados who are interested in sampling reasonably priced wines from around the globe, D. O. C. featuers 150 international bottle choices, with 30 by the glass offerings. The wine bar’s menu includes small plates of choices like duck quesadillas, buckweat crepes and pizza. If you’re coming to socialize, find a seat at the bar or couches surrounding the fireplace or at the banquettes lining the wall. If you’re interested in a more private setting for deep conversation, try the intimate and sexy scarlet-drenched back room! Psst. . . On Sundays, all flights are half-price; Mondays, the 20 for $20 special offers a good variety of choices at a deep discount. D. O. C. Wine Bar is located at 2602 N. Clark St. (at Wrightwood Ave. ).
J Bar (River North) – Talk about an upscale martini lounge. Located in the sleek and luxurious James Hotel, this lounge boasts modern design elements, candlelit cocktail tables and plasma TV screens to set the swanky scene that begins with the velvet ropes outside. Boasting “deconstructed” versions of traditional cocktails (like the signature James Hotel martini - that features blue raspberry vodka, elderflower cordial and served in a martini glass coated in a hard, raspberry candy shell. Remember: anchoring the south end of Rush Street’s nightlife, J bar is an early evening or a late night destination. James Hotel can be located at 610 N. Rush St. (at Wabash Ave. ).
reserve (West Loop) – Looking for a swanky, fashion-focused lounge, an elite atmosphere and first-class bottle service? reserve is where you go! Just make sure you dress in your very best designer threads so that you can make it past the door. Bling-bling and bottle service are definitely the name of the game at this place. With gleaming red tiles, a wall of bamboo and sexy crimson Asian-inspired décor elements, this bi-level venue is always attentive to its 20- to 30- something crowd that typically reserves tables and orders bottles of champagne (that range from $120 to $1,000 a bottle). Tuesdays are SIN DR (“Service Industry Night Done Right”) nights geared toward fashion and service industry elite, requires no cover charge and complimentary cocktails from 10 to 11 p. m. Other times, if you’re looking for reduced or comp. admission, just send an RSVP email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be good to go! reserve is located at 858 W. Lake St. (at Peoria St. ).
The Wild Hare (Wrigleyville) – Calling itself the reggae capital of America is not too much of a stretch for The Wild Hare – ya’ mon! Every night of the week, local, national and international bands make their way to the stay at this club (which has doubled in size over the last ten years and invested over $100,000 into its sound system). In a given month, you’ll find everyone from Shabba Ranks to other such renowned performers as Rita Marley and Tony Reble traveling from Jamaica to perform here. This place still draws a large crowd who’s always in the mood for a little Red Stripe (Jamaica’s favorite beer), the signature house rum and great music. DJs spin between sets or when no band is booked and cover charge can be as high as $20 for big-name performers such as Yellow Man. The Wild Hare is located at 3530 N Clark Street (Cross Street: Addison Street).
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