Today’s sponsored post from Dan Munteanu picks out the highlights from his visit to Chicago. The Windy City has plenty of big town pleasures such as shopping and shows, with a walk by the Chicago river and deep pan pizza, popcorn and hot dogs to enjoy.
Illinois is a state that is full of destinations “mile after magnificent mile”. However, my recent trip to the Windy City has really brought my appreciation for Chicago to a whole new level. Being able to walk down the Magnificent Mile is one of the most fantastic experiences that shoppers can ever hope to experience. When you see the stores all decked out for the holidays, you will fall in love with their displays and all of the magic that’s in the air.
However, even if you are not the shopping type, there are plenty of other things you might enjoy. I was able to watch a show while in town and it was spectacular. Check with the tourist information center in order to find out what shows are playing and where. Everyone is absolutely amazing and friendly and the tourist information center will be eager to give you lists of places to visit. In the ten minutes I chatted with the gentleman working there, he gave me several free maps, tons of coupons to shows and events and also lots of tips.
If you intend to watch a show, do make sure that you purchase your tickets ahead of time as the shows are often sold out, just like in any other big cities like New York or Los Angeles. Often times buying the tickets a day before the show is early enough that you can still get nice seats.
In terms of food, there are three things that you absolutely cannot simply miss while you’re in Chicago. The first is their crazy, amazing, deep dish pizza. This is exactly what it sounds: they take a deep pan and stack up layers and layers of cheeses, meats and vegetables all over it. It is just as delicious as it sounds and the restaurant recommended to me was Gino’s East. It isn’t fancy, and it isn’t super expensive but the food is soul soothing.
Chicago also has the world’s best hot dogs. I chose to do the popular choice and go to Portillo’s. The options for each hot dog are astonishing at first, but they all come with grilled onions, mustard and some chili peppers. Try their hot dogs, they will surprise you, even if you’re not a hot dog fan.
Now the last thing in Chicago that you simply cannot miss is Garrett’s Popcorn. There is something pretty special in the way they drench their popcorn in caramel, or molten cheese. You can see people walking down the street with yellow fingers and you know they’ve just had Garrett’s. Oprah praises it year after year and she calls it has made her list of favorites several times.
In my experience, hotels were not super expensive compared to other large cities, but the parking was. I paid about $40/day hotel parking and with valet tips, it was pretty expensive. In fact, I have found cheaper parking in downtown New York than I was able to find here in Chicago. So do make sure to do some research on the parking costs and which hotel you pick.
The walk by the Chicago River was also beautiful and amazing. It was interesting to see the new skyscrapers blended in the background with the older buildings from the early last century. Apparently Chicago makes for a very fun destination during St. Patrick’s day, because they dye the entire Chicago River to be absolutely green.
If you are up for a small journey outside of the downtown core, the Downers Grove and Naperville are two of my absolute favorite destinations. These towns have recently redeveloped their main street areas which are just to the side of the train stations. Whether you are looking for a small café restaurant to have lunch or you would like to be able to purchase a gift, you will really enjoy the small quaint atmosphere.
I would always recommend that travelers have travel health insurance to help pay for the additional costs that can occur if they get sick or perhaps they just don’t feel well enough to take the trip. Sometimes the price for travel insurance is almost negligent, so if you are a senior, why not?
Overall, this trip to Chicago was excellent. I cannot wait to go back and experience Chicago during the summer. Going to Navy Pier is just not the same during the cold winter months. I hope that the warm summer weather will bring even more fun and excitement to Chicago. Planning a trip to Chicago is always fun and exciting. Any traveler who has never been owes it to themselves to make a trip to the Windy City!
Information for visitors to Chicago
Choose Chicago – the official visitors’ site for Chicago
Gino’s East of Chicago, has several locations in Chicago
Garrett’s Popcorn – it’s Oprah’s favourite!
Portillo’s for your Chicago Hot Dogs
Don’t forget to book your travel health insurance
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