Welcome to the Windy City!
Are you ready to taste some pizza that will quite possibly all others to shame, or try a hot dog that is compared to the ones from famous New York hot dog stands? Craving delicious Italian food or a visit to Portillo’s? Enjoy these treats only from Chicago! Now, there is more to do in Chicago than just eat, however, the amazing selection around the city are “Chicago-style” foods that you can’t find anywhere else. Tourists know the famous attractions, like the Chicago bean or the Art Institute of Chicago, but a worldwide local knows how to experience it best. This is an insider guide to some of Chicago’s secret spots.
Chicago’s Secret History
During Prohibition, when alcohol was banned in the U.S., Chicago gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Morgan ran a bootlegging business. Some of the more famous speakeasies were in big cities like Chicago.
Worldwide Local Tip: Don’t miss a speakeasy when you are in Chicago. There are several to choose from, and they are still held to historical standards, with hidden doors and passwords. Hiding out here is a great way to warm up from the windy Chicago weather. Some of the best speakeasies out there include The Ladies Room, Violent Hour, The Pub, The Drifter, Room 13, and Watershed--but you may need to know someone to get in.
A Must-Visit Neighborhood in Chicago
Head west on North Avenue to find Bucktown/Wicker Park. This is a must see--the creative hub of Chicago. Bucktown and Wicker, as it’s commonly known, has a lot of boutique shops, craft cocktails, and amazing nightlife. Piece Pizza is a not-to-be-missed brewery and pizzeria. If New Haven-style pizza and award-winning brews aren’t enough, enjoy games or even karaoke with a live band on Saturdays from 11 pm. If it’s a drink of the non-alcoholic kind you’re after, grab a tasty hot chocolate from Mindy’s Hot Chocolate.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you enjoy live music and/or art shows, visit Millennium Park. At Millennium Park, you can catch a movie screenings and folk concerts during the summer, and in the winter you can skate at the ice rink at McCormick Tribune.
Where and What to Eat
If you are a foodie or just looking for a taste of Chicago that is local to the city, we have a few places in mind for you. Portillo’s is the best spot to go for the original Chicago-style hot dog. Or visit Oasis Cafe, which is hidden in a jewelry store on Jewelers’ Row. You can’t see it from the front, but there is usually an A-board on the street. Any list of hidden Chicago restaurants must include Heaven on Seven. Find this tucked away gem on the 7th floor of an office building in the Loop, where it’s been for the last 37 years. It has zero street presence, and you even have to check in with the building’s doorman at dinnertime.
Visiting the Randolph Street Market is one of the top things to do in Chicago, where you can spend hours browsing for vintage treasures. This celebrated European-style antique market features 250 vendors hawking quality vintage clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and home décor. Exhausted shoppers are revived with on-site entertainment and food trucks. Valet parking makes the experience seamless.
Your trip wouldn’t be complete without tasting a local beer. Take a sip and a tour through the Half Acre Brewery Balmoral. Every Sunday, there is a tour starting at 11 am, where for a $10 admittance fee you can see behind the scenes of a brewery. It is impossible to visit a brewery without tasting the products. There are exclusive beers served on tap, so there’s always a reason to come back.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best way to see the city, day or night, without having to worry about traffic, drivers, or finding parking (or paying for it for that matter), are Divvys. Divvy are the Chicago bike share program, allowing you to experience the city with ease without having to haul your own bicycle. You’ll feel like a real member of the Chicago population, and there are stations where you can pick up or park a bike throughout the city.
Enjoy Your Stay as a Worldwide Local!
Chicago’s skyline in this magically windy city ensures that your visit will be a memorable one, so don’t forget pictures, and don’t get consumed by its more touristy attractions. If you have time, stop in a sports bar to root for the lovable Chicago Bears, or drop in to see a show at the historical Chicago Theater. Exploring the city as a worldwide local will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.