The Sears Tower. Michigan Avenue. The lake. These are generally the three things that people think of when someone mentions Chicago. All of these areas are worth the effort to see, but I’m more of a traveler in search of understanding what it’s like to live in a place as a local. I was in Chicago on business when I found out that our meetings would be ending a day early. I thought why not take advantage of this opportunity and stay in the Windy City. Chicago is a place with so many neighborhoods and unique experiences to offer that I knew one day wouldn’t be enough time, but decided to try anyway.
The first thing I needed to do was find lodging. My company wasn’t going to pay for me to stay where I was, so I was a bit concerned about making sure I had somewhere to stay that night. Fortunately, after using the HotelTonight app, that concern was eliminated in about the time it takes to order a coffee. I had a hotel booked that was perfect for what I tend to prefer in accommodations and in an ideal location for my newly devised plans.
Downtown Chicago is the ultimate downtown for any city you’ll ever encounter. I parked in a garage and decided to walk around. Between all of the massive skyscrapers were attractions that pique the interests of locals as well as some tourists. Art institutes, museums and culture dominate the area. I took it all in and gained a small understanding of what it’s like to live in Chicago and why the people who live here take such pride in their home.
The Loop is not just a portion of the L. It’s also a neighborhood. Much like downtown, the Loop was filled with culture. I decided to take in a short matinee at a theater and was glad I did. From there, I decided it was time to grab something to eat, and it’s nearly impossible to walk more than a block or two in Chicago and not find something delicious to fill you up and then some. This is a city that knows how to cook. I decided on the iconic Chicago-style hot dog. That was more than enough to satisfy me.
All I had to do was cross the bridge to wind up in another beautiful area. This is known as River North. I immediately knew that if I ever needed to refurnish my own home and wanted to go window shopping, this was the neighborhood in which to do so. After an afternoon of taking in the artsy and formerly industrial scene, I decided to eat some serious dinner. What’s more serious for someone with a big appetite than Chicago style pizza? There are several options for pizza, and everyone who lives here has their own opinion on which one is the best. All I knew is that after a few pieces, I was ready to turn in for the night.
I started the next morning in another nearby area, known as the Gold Coast. This is one of the more affluent neighborhoods you’ll ever see. After gawking at some of the breathtaking mansions, I decided to do some shopping beyond window shopping. It didn’t take long for me to work up quite an appetite with all of this exercise, so I figured it was time for lunch. What better way to get a true taste of Chicago (other than a Chicago dog or Chicago pizza) than with an Italian beef? It was transcendent, and I even learned the proper stance in which to eat one.
Since it was now afternoon, I thought I’d see what was happening in Wrigleyville. After all, there’s a certain iconic baseball team there that plays in a certain iconic ballpark, and these games often occur during the afternoon. I made my way over there and sure enough, there was a game. I bought a bleacher seat, enjoyed a beverage, or two, and took in the sun and the sounds of Americana and Chicago combined.
All in all, it was a great decision to spend a day-plus in Chicago instead of head home. I saw one of the historic cities in our country and got to see it in a way that locals do every day. One of the best parts of all of this was the ease with which I found accommodations. If you ever have an opportunity to travel, use the HotelTonight app, and you’ll be sleeping and relaxing comfortably before you know it.