A Southern Girl's Guide to Chicago
If you’ve followed Blonde Voyage Nashville for any length of time, you know that Chicago has a special place in my heart. I’ve been traveling up there on a regular basis since 2011 and I continue to become more captivated with the architecture, the culinary scene and the great people of the city.
Chicago has everything that you could possibly think of from a big city perspective, plus it’s cleaner, easier to navigate and you have to love that Mid-West hospitality!
I wanted to curate a list of all my Chicago favorites, but to be quite honest, if I listed EVERY single thing that I thought you should see, do or eat, this blog post would be colossal. Therefore, I’ve pulled together a few of my favorites that I think you will enjoy as much as I do. If you visit any of these places, I would love to hear what you think and if there’s something not on here that you feel is noteworthy, please share!
Let’s begin, shall we?
Would it even be a trip to Chicago if you didn’t have pizza?
Pizza is certainly a polarizing subject among Chicagoans and don’t worry, they will definitely tell you their favorites. From Chicago’s famous deep-dish to crispy thin crust, here are a two that you must try.
Multiple Locations in Illinois
Click here to find the one closest to you.
Giordano’s is by far one of my favorite places for Chicago deep dish. Typically, I toss my bags in the hotel room and make a beeline to the location on Rush Street. Make sure you allow 45 minutes to an hour as they make your pizza to order and it takes some time to melt all of that ooey gooey cheese. The Chicago Classic deep dish add sausage is my go to order and if I am really feeling saucy, I will add extra cheese. After all, you can NEVER have too much cheese!
1521 N Fremont Street
Chicago, IL 60642
During my last trip to Chicago, I decided to forfeit the quintessential Chicago deep-dish and check out Lincoln Park gem Pizzeria Bebu. Not only did they just receive Bib Gourmand status from Michelin Guide but when chef Grant Achatz says it's the place, you know you have to check it out. Pizzeria Bebu has perfected the crispy thin crust pizza and curated a menu that balances the classic with the creative. Not that I am one to seek out salad while on the quest for pizza, but I have to say in addition to the carefully crafted pizza menu, Pizzeria Bebu has some killer salads not to mention a wonderful selection of beer and wine.
You can’t come to Chicago and not check out some of the craft breweries in the city. There are so many options, it’s hard to limit it to just a few.
Moody Tongue Brewing Company
2136 S Peoria Street
Chicago, IL 60608
I came across Moody Tongue beer about a year ago and have been secretly lobbying for them to distribute to Nashville, even though the odds are not in my favor. Moody Tongue is creating thoughtful exciting beers that are unlike anything I’ve had before. My first beer of theirs was the Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter. It was literally love at first sip. So much so, that I grabbed a couple of four packs and brought them back to Nashville. During my last visit, I went to visit their taproom in Pilsen, but unfortunately, it was closed for a private event. However, they were kind enough to allow me to purchase a few before I left. Currently in the refrigerator: Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner, Bourbon Barrel Aged Gingerbread Imperial Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged 12 Layer Cake Imperial Stout.
If you make it to the tasting room, come hungry. Moody Tongue boasts an impressive menu and that cake… swoon!
2323 N Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
After I snapped my obligatory photo in front of the Greetings From Chicago mural, I decided to swing by and check out what was on tap at Revolution Brewing. If you’ve gone into any bar in Chicago, you’ve likely seen Revolution Brews on tap. You can’t miss their signature fist beer tap! There was a chill in the air and I was in the mood for something bold and intense so I chose the Working Mom which is a blend of nine month and eighteen month aged Imperial Brown Ales from Heaven Hill and Four Roses Barrels. Talk about a heavy hitting beer! Mamma mia! Even though I was there during an off-peak time, the bar was crowded. Come prepared to wait.
Band of Bohemia
4710 N Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
When Josh Habiger gives you a restaurant recommendation, you not only make a quick note, but you also make reservations ASAP! Band of Bohemia is located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood and is the first culinary brewhouse to receive a Michelin Star. From the funky decor and the kindness of the staff to their innovative and playful approach to food, this place is killing it. We stopped in for brunch and had no idea that we would fall in love with the beer like we did! I recommend grabbing a sampler so you can try as many exotic beers as possible. For more information, check out the full blog post here.
There’s no shortage of alcohol in Chicago, in fact, make sure you pack the ibuprofen when you visit. While I could rattle off at least twenty different bars, I’m going to share the one that I feel like you can’t miss.
955 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
The Aviary, a cocktail bar concept owned by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, pushes the boundaries of standard cocktails. Expect to find drinks floating on pillows, encased in aromatic bags and sometimes even inside an ice cube (yes, you use a slingshot to crack it open) Even though it’s never a new stop for me, I love to pop in and see how they have changed the menu.
Again, this is not your ordinary cocktail bar. Be prepared to make reservations and secure your spot in advance. While The Aviary will accommodate a handful of walk-ins, save yourself from the inconvenience and plan accordingly.
Can’t Miss Excursions
Even though I am guilty of spending a significant amount of time on Michigan Avenue, there’s so much more to do rather than shop. There’s no shortage of sites and museums to explore while in Chicago.
Millennium Park (Click here)
Grab your friends and head to this art-filled park right in the middle of downtown Chicago and don’t forget to snap a picture in front of the Bean!
Chicago Architecture Tour (Click here)
I had the opportunity to take this tour last year and I was literally blown away. I knew that Chicago was rich in history and had an interesting story, but it was so wonderful to cruise down the Chicago River and learn a little more about what makes up this beautiful city. Tickets range between $37.00- $43.00 and the cruise lasts a little over an hour. There’s a bar as well as snacks available on the cruise.
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
If you’ve ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you know the exact museum I am talking about. I could spend hours getting lost in the galleries looking at all the amazing pieces. I first visited the Art Institute shortly after high-school to see my favorite painting by George Seurat: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Pointillism is one of my favorite techniques and seeing the piece in person will take your breath away. If Pointillism isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there’s no shortage of artwork to feast your senses on.
While some may call this runners paradise, there’s nothing more I enjoy than grabbing a latte and walking along the Chicago Lakefront Trail in the summer. The lakefront is simply stunning and the views of the city are breathtaking. Make sure you pack your sneakers because this is one walk you don’t want to miss.
There is no shortage of things to do while you are visiting Chicago. No matter how many items I check off my “list” each trip, I find that twice that amount make their way back on the list before I make my way back.
For those of you who have upcoming plans to visit the Windy City, enjoy your time. Chicago is truly magical.
Until Next Time!