They say that there are feelings you can never find words for, and you will learn to name them after the ones who gave them to you. I’m doing just that, except for me it’s with all the places I’ve been to.
My best friend and I have a few traditions, and traveling every summer is among the most consistent of all. Why are we best friends? I honestly don’t have an answer for that.
We are inherently different in many ways – we have completely opposite personalities, and our logic reasoning contradicts. She, is crazier than I am. I think we can safely say that. Where I am timid or hesitant to make my presence known, she stands right beside me. She makes no apologies and gives zero fvkc. She is a lesson in taking up space – and as a woman – that’s a vital revelation.
Yet we are not so different. We see things from almost identical perspectives. We both come from a long line of fighters, a honest place. There is one doctrine we always hold dear to our heart – on the face of any matter, we act with raw instinct and absolute candor.
Chicago is the sixth city we’ve been to together, and embarrassing stories happened all the time to say the least. They are messy, crazed, and amusing. To mention but a few, in Seattle, we attempted to put in a song request at a club, and of course, no one cared. We then missed our flight back to San Francisco because of a detour to get boba. And during this trip in Chicago, we went out with our Airbnb host and her friends only to get charged extra for the same consequential reason. Just typing these already makes me chuckle a little.
Below I have curated a list of highlights of my time there. Do read on and bookmark these spots if you are planning on a trip to Chicago one of these days.
- Willis Tower
- As an iconic landmark of Chicago, Willis Tower is the tallest observation deck in the city. It offers sensational panoramas of the entire downtown and the extended coastal line. A recent addition – the Ledge – all-glass balconies extending four feet out allows you to look down to the street from the 103rd floor. (Tips: if you plan to take some good photos at the balcony, have your poses ready ahead of time as every person only gets about 30 seconds due to the long line of people waiting.)
- Navy Pier
- If you’re a kid at heart, Navy Pier would no doubt be your favorite adventure. This corner city is sort of like a carnival. It contains some rides, a Ferris Wheel, a Shakespeare Theatre, a Children’s Museum, an oddly large number of beer gardens, and even miniature golf.
- Lake Front Trail
- A nearly 20 mile recreational area that runs along the Lake Michigan. The waterfront promenade boasts sweeping views of the entire harbor. You’ll find many locals running, walking their dogs , or chilling on the bench.
- Millienium Park
- Located right downtown, Millennium Park is one the most stunning bits of urban planning in the city. While there, don’t miss the Cloud Gate sculpture, locally known as “The Bean.”
- Oak Street Beach
- We didn’t make it this time due to a time constraint, but Oak Street Beach has always been on my bucket list as it consists of two of my favorites – beach and skyscrapers. If you’re traveling to Chicago in the summer, a beach visit is a must!
- The Hampton Social
- If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably fall in love with this place as soon as you see the the stylish, nautical interior. Serving up seafood and beach-themed cocktails, The Hampton Social hosts live music events, and offers a breezy hangout space just as the Hampton getaway.
- Bridge House Tavern
- Brunch by the river walk. This is the place to go if you like to accompany your meals with a nice view.
- Lao Sze Chuan (on Michigan Ave)
- Lao Sze Chuan is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes. The atmosphere of this place is more upscale than your usual good Chinese restaurants. Not many people can handle the Szechuan hot spicy, but this restaurant is definitely worth a stop.
- I|O Godfrey Rooftop Bar
- For an undeniably beautiful view of Chicago, head to the Rooftop Bar, perched on the top floor of the hotel Godfrey. Just keep in mind it can get very crowded on weekends.
- The Allies at Soho House
- Very rarely will you find a place that can serve up morning pastries and latte as well as it does evening cocktails, but Allies is one of the few. My recommendation is head over for a cocktail or two after a long day of exploring. A beautiful interior, and a prime location inside the exclusive Soho House are just the icing on the cake.
Chicago is the place where I get to be my most authentic self as I am taking the most steps I’ve taken for myself in a long while.
Plan a trip and hop on a plane, with or without a companion. Go stare at the vast universe. Acknowledge your trivial existence as well as your absolute importance.
I’m doing just that for myself, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thanks for reading.