The Most Underestimated City (in my opinion)
Chicago is one of my most favorite cities in the US - it not only boasts countless tourist destinations/spots and activities (depends on the season you visit), but it’s also a beautiful city that has wonderful architecture, a very efficient city layout and of course, GLORIOUS FOOD! I’ve learned a few things on my numerous visits to the Windy City:
1. Don’t be scared to go around solo
Chicago is generally a very safe place to go around alone - commuting won’t be able problem as there’s the Metra, the El train, cabs and buses everywhere and even a new DIVY bicycle system (bicycles that are located on streets, which you can use going from one place to another. You just swipe your credit card, hop on the bike and leave it on the nearest DIVY bike rack in your next location) and of course, you can just use your own two feet!
chicago may be enormous but how the city is laid out is very efficient and you wont have a problem if you get lost (it would also be better if you have a map with you). It won’t be a problem either if you just ask someone - people are generally friendly in Chi-Town (but of course its best to research on places that are best to stay away from).
2. Outlets Haven
Illinois is one of the states that has one of the highest taxes in the US but i think its also one of the states that has the most outlets. It’s actually hard to choose where to go as they’re pretty much spread out in the state but it’s usually worth going to, especially the ones in Aurora and Rosemont (my favorites).
3. EAT EAT EAT!
You can bet your right leg and right arm that you’re going to ruin your diet while you’re here - Chicago is one of the places that has the best food and restaurants. Of course you can go for the usual places like Maggianno’s or Gino’s pizza. But great places like Malnatti’s also serves great dip dish pizza, Portillo’s for their chili hotdogs, Purple Pig for their rustic yet contemporary take on comfort food and lastly, Cafe Iberico for great Spanish tapas and sangria. Walking around the city is a good idea but most of these places are sometimes hidden away, not on the main roads usually fared by tours and tour guides.
Always research and make sure you pick a restaurant that’s mentioned in more than one blog or article. It’s also good to check out the chefs and people behind the establishment if you’re very picky on those. I also make sure to check the menu before i go to make sure that the food served is my type of food. And of course, make sure to wear something loose and bring your appetite!
4. Don’t underestimate the cold
Always bring something that will keep you warm - if its fall and winter, bring something EXTRA that will keep you warm. Because for sure, at some time in the day, things will get cold. Yes, the temperature may go higher, but never ever forget wind chill - especially downtown, which is usually colder as it’s right there beside Lake Michigan is right there.
But please note my disclaimer that the last time i’ve been to Chicago in the summer/spring season was more than 10 years ago and the only thing i remember is, summers may go extreme as well as the heat can be deadly. Bottom line is, prepare for Chicago weather - it can be brutal.
5. Always have change when you commute
I found out that it’s always better to have change when you commute - it’s not only more convenient to bring it out of your pocket when you have to pay, but it’s also easier to track your money if you do. It’s just more efficient if you have singles and 5’s with you in your pocket, instead of 50’s and 100’s.
Both men and women may also take advantage of a money clip - which you can put in your inner coat pocket or breast pocket of coats and jackets which is more accessible than wallets inside purses and bags (for the women). As American cities are fast - paced and people are usually in a hurry, it’s better to be too (even if you’re not - it’s kind of embarrassing to hold up a line counting money).