The Ultimate Chicago List – In Progress!


Sometimes you live in an incredible city but are so caught up in the daily grind that you forget to take advantage of all it offers. I’ve certainly been guilty of this and am determined not to let it happen in Chicago. To make the most of my first year in the Midwest I’ve begun a list of things I’d like to experience in 2015. I ran the list by a couple of local girlfriends and they added their two cents. Now I’m turning to you, dear readers, what are we missing…? Who makes the best pizza? Where do I get one of these ketchup-less hot dogs? Who throws a great dance party? Best spa for recuperating from said dance party? I can’t wait to print the final list and post it on my fridge (nerd alert). Life is short–time to explore.

1. Take an architectural boat tour
2. Attend a lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago
3. Visit the sea otters at Shedd Aquarium
4. Say hi to Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum
5. Attend a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art
6. Visit the National Museum of Mexican Art
7. Visit an exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago
8. Tour the solar system at the Adler Planetarium
9. Visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory
10. Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory
11. Greet the giraffes at the Lincoln Park Zoo
12. Dine at Girl & the Goat
13. Dine at Longman & Eagle
14. Margaritas and tacos at Big Star
15. Sip a ‘Go Go Bordello’ at The Violet Hour
16. Cheer for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field
17. Cheer for the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field
18. Cheer for the Blackhawks at the United Center
19. Cheer for the Chicago Bulls at the United Center
20. See a performance by the Joffrey Ballet
21. See a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
22. See a performance by the Lyric Opera of Chicago
23. Have a summer concert picnic at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
24. Drinks and jazz at The Green Mill
25. Drinks and blues at Kingston Mines
26. Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio
27. Tour the Robie House
29. Go on a Saturday galleries tour in River North
30. Drinks at the Signature Room in the Hancock Tower
31. Visit the Skydeck in the Willis (Sears) Tower
32. Go antiquing at the Randolph Street Market
33. Get a tan on a Lake Michigan beach
34. Ride bikes along the lakeshore
35. Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden

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22 comments on “The Ultimate Chicago List – In Progress!

  1. Marley

    You should see a comedy show- either Second City or iO! If you like beer, you should visit Revolution Brewing or Hopleaf. If you prefer cocktails, add Scofflaw to your list.

    Welcome to Chicago!

  2. Katie Armour Post author

    Marley – Thanks for weighing in! I’ve heard you have some great comedy shows there, good call. And I’m not a beer drinker, but I feel like I need to become one?! Don’t want to miss out… :)

  3. Helen

    I think you meant, cheer for the Chicago White Sox? ;)

    Definitely check out Blues Fest and spend some time in Millennium Park. Summer in Chicago makes the rest of the year (read, winter) endurable.

  4. Katie Armour Post author

    Helen – Hah, good one. Should I go to a White Sox game too? I admittedly don’t know much about baseball…I just go for the hot dogs and I’ve heard a lot about Wrigley :) Thanks for the tip on the Blues Fest! Have a feeling it’s going to be a good summer…

  5. Meredith

    Hopleaf and Revolution Brewing have fantastic food, too. Revolution is one of the few restaurants my sister, my parents, and I all agree on. I live in Andersonville (where Hopleaf is), so obviously I’m biased, but it’s a great neighborhood to walk around; there are a ton of locally-owned shops.

    If you want AMAZING pan pizza, definitely go to Pequod’s in Lincoln Park (another family-approved restaurant). It is honestly the best pan pizza in the city and everyone I know who has eaten there agrees.

    As far as the big museums go, I’ve always been partial to the Museum of Science and Industry (always my favorite field trip in grammar school). Even though it’s in Hyde Park, there’s an express bus that goes there, so it’s really easy to get to if you don’t have a car or if your car is buried under 3 feet of snow.

    If you’re interested in the Randolph Street Market (which is a fun way to spend a warm Saturday), you might also like Salvage One. I haven’t been there in years, but even though it’s pricey, it’s just so cool to look huge old art deco bars and mid-century storage pieces.

  6. Katie Armour Post author

    Meredith – I am definitely down to hit up breweries for some food! And have heard of your Andersonville hood, eager to check it out. Love Pequod’s, went on my last visit! Must go back. And need to add the Museum of Science and Industry to my list. I’m not exactly science-inclined, but it would be good for me. Plus I want to see the homes in Hyde Park so I won’t mind the trek. Thank you for all your advice!

  7. Cathy M.

    That’s a great list so far! My extended family is split mostly between Chicago and Milwaukee, WI. That being said, definitely add a trip to Giordano’s for some pizza and a pint of the local brew – 312, make a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry (I know it doesn’t sound super-fun, but it really is), check out the Lincoln Park area for it’s charm and fun restaurants, take a walk on Shore Drive by the water…. Although it’s really in Milwaukee, you should get tickets to Summerfest.

    I hope your move goes well!

  8. Carolyn

    For some off-the-beaten-path suggestions, try King Spa, a Korean spa out in the suburbs that is well worth the drive. Burt’s Pizza is a must (he started Pequod’s but has his own tiny restaurant). In the summer, Rainbow Cone ice cream is great (there’s not much else around there, but if you’re up for a drive, you can see parts of the city that you might not otherwise see). Maria’s Packaged Goods in Bridgeport is a great little bar, which cozies up to Pleasant House, an English pasty shop.

    Welcome to Chicago!

  9. Angela

    dine at: avec, balena (just across the street from steppenwolf!), ruxbin, fat rice, lula and au cheval.
    drink at: scofflaw, the new retractable rooftop at J. Parker, definitely big star, and RL Grill.
    Shop: beautiful plants at Sprout.
    Dream of: spring (the real spring, not Chicago’s sorry version) often

  10. Kate

    The Old Town Art Fair – one of the biggest, best and oldest in the country. And Alfred might want to know about Blum Animal Hospital just in case. They are wonderful to my pug. The Air and Water Show in August. The Chicago History Museum is also great.

  11. Beth

    We don’t get to Chicago as often as we’d like, but we love RM Champagne Salon. If I remember right, they have $1 oysters one night during the week. I just can’t remember what night it is. :(

  12. Allie

    You’ll definitely want to check out the Holiday (November) and Spring (March) art sales at The School of the Art Institute. Tons of amazing student work ranging from paintings and ceramics to paper goods and knit wear. It’s an awesome way to find some amazing and affordable original art for a new home, while directly investing in the incredibly talented students there.

    While you are in the loop definitely get some thin crust pizza at Pizano’s. I just left Chicago after living there for 10 years and I think the BBQ chicken pizza might be the thing I miss the most!

  13. Maggie S

    Welcome to Chicago!!
    Check out the Boarding House for a great meal! Nellcote, the Bristol, Balena, and RM Champagne Salon are great too! If you like donuts, try Firecakes in River North. Stop in to Alliance Patisserie to pick up a sweet treat.
    During summer, go to Green City Market or the farmers market at the Muesum of Contemporary Art.
    Also in summer, there are free classical concerts on Friday and Saturday nights at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, these are great for picnicking!

  14. Sarah

    Katie, I pride myself on Chicago being my first love! You must hit the local music scene — Schuba’s, Lincoln Hall, The Vic, The Riv, the list goes on and on….we have a wealth of amazing music in this town and you should take advantage of it whenever possible! Go to Millenium Park and walk around, the new Ice Ribbon (GORGEOUS), the Bean, the Pritzker Pavilion for music in the summertime (as you have on your list), oh my! The Art Institute of Chicago is to die for and there really is nothing better. Make sure you do tea at the Palm Court at the Drake Hotel with girlfriends and walk down Armitage Avenue in and out of all the cutesy little shops (Art Effect, especially!). Make sure you go to the Oyster Bar at Shaws for the best seafood of your life and even some nights there is live music! I am here to help!! ENJOY and WELCOME!

  15. Sarah

    OH my god. And ALL OF THE BAKED GOODS. Sweet Mandy B’s for snickerdoodle cupcakes (or anything really, it’s all amazing) and Dinkel’s Bakery for chocolate doughnuts!

  16. Casey Blue J.

    As a native Chicago gal and a pizza lover to the extreme, I feel comfortable saying that some of the best pizza in Chicago is not the deep dish. Chicago does incredible thin-crust as well, though it’s certainly not margherita style. I love ordering delivery from J.B. Alberto’s in Rogers Park — the thin crust is doughy and soft and the ratio of cheese to crust is like 10 to 1. It’s incredible. Plus they make cute themed pizzas for special occasions (c.f.

    Head up to north Clark St. in Rogers Park for a plethora of very authentic taquerias. Devon Avenue is known (as far away as India) for being the best place to grab good Indian food.

    Koval Distillery makes awesome local whiskey and could be fun for a distillery tour (or a whiskey-tasting event).

    The new Aesthetic Movement Shop over by Merchandise Mart is an awesome spaces with a lot of fun brands. For adorable bookstores: Women and Children First in Andersonville; Bookends in Beginnings (OK, this is up in Evanston north of the city..but still great!); or 57th Street Books in Hyde Park.

    The beach in the summer is a treat. But do yourself a favor and steer clear of North Ave. or Oak Street beaches. So overcrowded (with over-strict lifeguards). Instead, try one of the smaller beaches in Rogers Park (anything between Pratt and Estes is serene and has room for tranquil beach-lazing).

    Pump up the jams, too! Chance the Rapper, Twin Peaks and the O’My’s are all youthful and up-n-coming Chicago musicians :)

  17. katie

    Windy City Soul Club! The Empty Bottle is a bar in Ukranian Village and they put on an old school dance party on scheduled Fridays. Lost Lake just opened and it’s a tiki-esque bar in Logan Square that will make you feel like your miles away from the sleet and slush outside. Check out the Lagunitas beer tour, rent a Divvy bike and take a cupcake tour of the city on your own, grab a bottle of wine and take a water taxi from Trump Tower to China Town and go to Lao Sze Chuan (they let you drink on the boat!). There are so many great things to do in this city and I sometimes forget how lucky I am to live here. People cry “the weather, the weather!” But if you let that stop you, you’ll never leave your place. There’s a reason people live here and that’s because it’s one of the greatest cities in the country. Enjoy!

  18. Kristina

    Shopping at Randolph Street Market (not quite the Alameda Flea, but close!), take advantage of as many summer festivals as you can (my fav is Old Town Art Fair), tea at the Palm Court at the Drake, Piece for amazing pizza, Coast for great sushi, Sweet Mandy B’s for treats, Pops for Champagne for bubbles. And for the best weekend trip out of the city, Lake Geneva, WI in the summertime!
    Enjoy Chicago!! I spent 7 years there-I live in SF now and love it, but will always miss my Windy City!

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