‘My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.’ – Oprah Winfrey
8 years ago, I took a leap of faith and left everything I’ve ever known in Michigan to start a new life in the city of Chicago. At the age of 20, coming from a strict Middle Eastern family, this was no small feat. I was on my own financially, emotionally and mentally but pushed my way through Loyola University Chicago’s nursing school and successfully graduated and got married. I’ve traveled all over the world but whenever my plane lands in Chicago, my heart flutters and I’m reminded again and again why I love this city so much.
Sadly, I will have to say farewell to this city as I move to NYC. This is a bittersweet time for me so I would like to take the opportunity to share some of my favorite spots in this incredibly underrated city and I have teamed up with Choose Chicago to help me do just that!
Stunning architecture, friendly locals, gorgeous Lake Michigan, tons of speakeasys, world class restaurants and more, Chicago truly has something for everyone.
1.) Take a helicopter ride
There are so many viewpoints of Chicago’s stunning skyline but the best is surely from a helicopter. Chicago Helicopter Experiences Tours took us on a 20 minute ride over the city during twilight hour and it was pretty incredibly to watch the sky turn pink and the sun sink down. Hands down, one of my best Chicago memories to date!
2.) Visit during Springtime
Located in the Midwest, Chicago is home to all four seasons in all of their glory but Springtime in Chicago is super special as the city defrosts from the cold winter and blooms beautifully. Michigan Avenue is covered in blankets of tulips and flowering trees hover over Grant Park. It’s truly a sight to see!
3.) Museum hop and skip long lines with the Chicago CityPASS
Super long line to get up to the Skydeck and 360 Chicago on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Chicago? No problem. With the CityPASS, we zipped past the long lines and went straight up to the roof deck in less than 5 minutes. A HUGE time saver, especially if you have limited time in the city.
4.) Use your CityPASS to visit The Art Institute of Chicago
A classic and one of my favorites in Chicago, you’ll admire works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and more.
5.) Be a foodie
Chicago is booming with tons of new restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. One of my favorite spots for lunch is Bernie’s Lunch & Supper. We indulged in everything from Pan con Tomate, Lamb Hashwi to Hanger Steak Salad and Croque Madame with their signature (and to die for I might add) Sangria to accompany this epic meal. Bernie’s is chef owned and operated by Chef Zack Sklar and Executive Chef Ryan Sand.
6.) Hang out in cool neighborhoods such as the West Loop
The West Loop is an up and coming area of the city where you’ll find fun street art, pretty hidden alley ways and some of the best restaurants in the city such as the famous Girl & the Goat, Au Cheval and more on Randolph Street. You’ll also find cool coffee shops such as The Allis at SohoHouse and Sawada Coffee.
7.) Splurge on a fancy hotel stay at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Located in one of the ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, the Waldorf Astoria is a little slide of Paris in the Midwest. The hotel towers over Chicago with 60 floors and its stunning European architecture and fresh, modern interiors. Don’t forget to look up as you enter the lobby to catch a glimpse of the magnificent sunburst chandelier that’s a replica of a Chanel brooch. Cozy beds, beautiful terrace views, massive tubs and fireplaces equip majority of the rooms, making your stay one you’ll never forget.
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I was hosted by Choose Chicago and Waldorf Astoria Hotels. As always, all opinions are my own.