What To Do In Chicago?

Before leaving for Chicago:

☞ Book the city-pass of Chicago (79 euros / pers.) Which includes entries to the Field museum and the art institute. (+ 20 other attractions)

Find a hotel: the Kimpton Hotel Allegro * (expensive, chic, central), Freehand * (cool vibe, good location); Staypineapple at The Alise Chicago (in a historic hotel on the Loop)

☞ Read the article on tips for planning a trip to Chicago

At the end of October, Manu has his annual neuroscience conference, this year it's in Chicago that it's happening. I found it all at the end, and we spent 4 days together to discover the American city that always made me dream - no, it was neither Los Angeles, nor New York nor Miami, Chicago but I imagined to be THE American city par excellence. Blame it on Tintin, no doubt. Today, in my reformed fantasy after 4 years of living in the United States, Chicago is a (1) big city - compared to what I've seen, and Boston that's relatively small (2) cool - music, evenings, dancing always looks super nice there (3) where Barack Obama was senator (4) where Oprah Winfrey was doing her show (5) where it's cold in the winter , probably colder than in Boston (6) the city renowned with the most beautiful "skyline" - the whole that form the skyscrapers - of the United States.

Back in Boston, I found myself with 500 pictures and lots of things to tell. Would not one article be 10 times too long? Finally, this is the choice I made: be careful, the article is long, but I will make another more condensed for those who are there for the info and steal my good addresses (to read here: My good plans to prepare a stay in Chicago)

For those who like stories and photos, by Manu, here is the article:

Wednesday, October 21, departure from Boston, arrival in Chicago

Leaving Boston early in the afternoon, I have a flight with the company Jetblue, synonymous with domestic flights with TV. The opportunity to catch the worst of trash chains like E! and Bravo, my favorites (secretly my favorites, officially, it's of course HBO, Showtime …). The Boston-Chicago flight is relatively short, just under 3 hours, with one hour of jet lag: I arrive in Chicago at 4pm - while it is 5pm in Boston. I always feel like I'm winning in these cases: yeah, bonus!

Here I am at O'Hare Airport (pronounced ohhhh era) - one of the largest airports in the United States, Chicago is in the middle of the country and also makes the connection with Canada. I'm alone with my backpack, I like traveling light. The airport is too far from the city to take a Lyft or Uber, so I queued in front of the machines to buy a metro ticket. I explain to a guy that I stay a few days, and I do not have time to finish my sentence that a lady gives me a ticket saying that it is still valid 2h "I do not need it anymore ". I take. Thank you. I say my girlfriend Trishie, who is from the corner - Michigan more precisely, she answers me: Midwest hospitality = the hospitality of the Midwest, it is here, in the middle of the country, that the Americans are considered to be the nicest of the country. So I take the subway, then 2 buses, I arrive in my AirBnb in Lakeview , north of the city. Outside, it's a delicious time, almost too hot for the season. Manu comes back from the conference, we're going to have a beer and we go to a Halloween shop.

Thursday, October 22, we walk in The LOOP

Before leaving for Chicago, I booked a guided tour of part of the city, called " the Loop " with a guide from the Greeters Association. It is an association of volunteers, who make visits on demand, according to interests - art, architecture, history - and neighborhoods. They are in most major American cities. We have an appointment at 13h with Marianne , which leaves us all the morning to arrive at the meeting place. Breakfast quickly in our neighborhood, then we walk, it's so good outside!

We cross Lincoln Park - with a zoo, free, in the middle - we pass by museums, we see on the map that we are not far from Lake Michigan … it looks very promising; at this moment of the stay, we say we have plenty of time, we are not in a hurry. As soon as we leave the park, here we are in the middle of the beautiful stone houses of the Gold Coast district , already very decorated for Halloween. A few streets away, the skyscrapers are dizzying. We raise our nose.

The view of downtown Chicago from the zoo in Lincoln Park ; the children and their nannies were numerous that morning to wander around the cages of the park.

☝ Marianne, the Greeter guide takes us through the history of the city told through its architecture. It's exciting ! We see the first modern skyscrapers , skyscrapers , she tells us about the Chicago fire in 1871, department stores. It's exciting, you get lost almost under the mass of information!

Flamingo (flamingo) by Calder

The Chase Tower has a beautiful curved shape. The picture on the right, and taken to its foot, looking upward, it gives inverted vertigo!

left: art deco madness everywhere in Chicago
in the center: the Willis Tower (better known by its former name, the Sears Tower ), which has long been the tallest skyscraper in the world, rising to over 440 meters
right: the famous Chicago theater (yes I sang the title of the musical All That Jazz for 4 days)

The Millenium Park Chicago

Marianne's visit ends in Chicago's famous park, Millenium Park, where tourists stroll amidst contemporary works of art. The fine, white and smooth face of the girl with closed eyes is sublime, the sculpture is entitled "Look into my dreams, Awilda" by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. ☟

☟ The " Bean ", the bean, or its real name "the door of the clouds", The Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor. It has become in a few years a kind of new symbol of Chicago, it's great to pass below, and it is impossible to feel the depth: we get lost!

This is where we say goodbye to our guide, Marianne, before mumuse with The Bean.

Friday, October 23: ARCHITECTURE, again!

On the advice of Marianne, our guide of the day before, we buy tickets for the architectural cruise on the river, in the heart of Chicago . Even if we had walked a lot the day before in the whole "Loop", seeing the high buildings from the river would allow to see more, and especially to see them differently .

At noon tapante, while the sky is gray threatening, here we are on the water to listen to a guide talking about the buildings of Chicago: it's absolutely great, and makes you want to start architecture studies (or in the version more realistic, to buy an archi book).

I made you a selection of these skyscrapers cross over the walk, there are so many! The guide combines history of the city and architectural precisions . It was fascinating and full of information, I do not even mention a tenth of what was told during this visit. The most impressive thing is to see that there are works in progress and buildings that are under construction right in the middle of the city.

left: the Trump Tower , yes, the name of the Republican presidential candidate
in the center: Aqua , a poetic name for this 84-storey skyscraper
right: one of the many bridges spanning the river

Merchandise mart: an extremely impressive building, so massive!

Left: the opera, or Civic Opera House , again very impressive
Right: River City . I love this type of architecture, designed by Bertrand Goldberg

And it continues … High towers, reflections, a game with the river, buildings that meet each other, and then some details here and there, a statue, a water reserve on a roof …

After the cruise, we walk for a while in the city, further south of the city; it is too late to enjoy the art museum, we will just see a photo exhibition at the museum of contemporary photography (all small, super, and free).

Wicker Park. We then change the atmosphere completely by going to places where real people live, a neighborhood much less touristy and super nice, trendy hipster - look for camera shops or record stores in a city if you want this kind of atmosphere .

Saturday, October 24, MUSEUM & MUSIC

It rains, a little fine rain disgusting, then a big shower that soaks well. The coolest option of the day is the museums . But before deciding, we take the time, in a cafe . I drink the best black coffee of my whole life in the world: from the simple coffee of coffee, nothing fancy, at Intelligentsia Coffee, a chain founded in Chicago, with some cafes in LA and New York (pray the god of the coffee for a sign goes to Boston)

☝ A cardboard bike // a suit of vach-stronaut

☝ A German submarine of the second world war, one of a kind, because it was not sunk: we can get inside!

Sunday, October 25 - AT THE COOL

Yes, the sun is back, the sky is a big blue. We're going to have sex, on the advice of our friend Jason, who lives in Boston but has lived in Chicago for a long time, and we like to call him "the coolest guy in the world" - because he's just the coolest guy of the world . We followed since the beginning of our stay in Chicago his good places to go out and go to the restaurant, and it was in his image: simple and cool. This morning, here we are in a popular brunch, right next to a farmer's market. Yes, it's completely cliché, but so good, right?

We walk for a long time through the neighborhoods west of the city , Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park, then the Ukrainian village, with some Orthodox churches that tell us we are there. It was very nice but not the best idea in the world because the city is very large (Chicago = the third largest city in the US, after New York and Los Angeles) - it would probably be better to bike. Our walk ends in a bar / concert hall where a turntable competition (DJ) takes place. Relaxing atmosphere, Sunday afternoon at the Jason , or the cool if you prefer.

Before night falls, we reach the edge of the lake, finally. Chicago is on one of the Great Lakes , Lake Michigan. There are waves, a beach, a restaurant in the shape of a liner with big portholes. We walk, the wind blows (yes, Chicago's nickname is The Windy City , the windy city). We have other views of the Chicago skyline. It's great.

The sea ? no, a big lake. I do Snapchat.

☝ Do you see the tallest tower with an X on the side? It's the Hancock Center , a 100-story skyscraper, yes: 100 floors . A few days ago, Manu was treated to a chic dinner at the top, one of the nights of the conference. Me too I want to go see the view! I enjoyed climbing to the top of Prudential Tower in Boston, just to get another perspective on the city. The elevator that brings us all up there is super fast : in just a few seconds, here we are on the 96th floor. We have an hour to enjoy the view in broad daylight, before the sun goes down.

Surprisingly, the view that will have surprised me the most is the side of Lake Michigan: there is only water to see, but most importantly, the majestic and somewhat threatening reflection of towers on the lake .

We are not in a super romantic mood to admire the sunset, there are people on the stands: the panoramic view at the top of the Hancock Tower is not really a secret, and you can picolate and eat in watching the sun go down. Towers light up pink: October is the word of awareness of breast cancer.

Leaving the tower, there is only one thing left to do in our list of the best of the best in Chicago: eat the typical Chicago dish, pizza. But not just any pizza, the deep dish pizza.

Monday, October 26 - BACK TO BOSTON

The extended weekend in Chicago is over! It's time to pack up, get back to the airport, enjoy the 3-hour flight to Boston and list everything I'd like to do the next time I go back to Chicago … Highly the next Manu conference to have opportunity to travel (or the benefit of being a researcher).

Remember, not before going to Chicago:

▶ Book the Chicago City Pass (79 euros / pers.) Which includes tickets to the Field Museum and the Art Institute. (+ 20 other attractions)

▶ Find a hotel: the Kimpton Hotel Allegro * (expensive, chic, central), Freehand * (cool vibe, good location); Staypineapple at The Alise Chicago (in a historic hotel on the Loop)

▶ Read the article on tips for planning a trip to Chicago

▶ Salve on the article the pizza of Chicago

☞ More info on major American cities to visit on my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject, with a nice map to find articles on cities easily

☞ Do you like the article? Share it! You live in Chicago, what is the most tourist / less touristic thing to do? Quote the article if you use it, and for those already in Chicago, tell your own experience of the city!