Do as the locals do in Chicago during IRCE 2014
Last year, the team at NetSphere Strategies posted a list of our favorite things to do in Chicago to help IRCE attendees better enjoy their time in the Windy City. As we mentioned in that blog, a good chunk of our team either grew up in Chicago or lives there now. Wanting to yet again extend a few ideas from an insider’s point of view, we updated our list to reflect some of the best sights and sounds happening in Chicago today.
Just like last year, we’ll offer up our must-do activities in a series of two blogs. So be sure to stay tuned for more recommendations. Be it dining or attractions, Chicago is constantly offering up great new options for visitors to check out. However, the first three items on our list are set in stone. They haven’t changed from last year and we don’t see them being pulled from our list anytime soon:
1. Watch the sun set at the Signature Lounge
So many tourists are drawn to the Sears Tower, which is a fine idea, considering it’s the second tallest buildings in the Western Hemisphere now that the Freedom Tower is up. However, for many locals, the Signature Lounge is a better choice for seeing the Windy City from a bird’s eye view. Quite frankly, we think it has better views than the Sears Tower. (And yes, we still have a hard time referring to it as the Willis Tower.)
Details: Not only is the Signature Lounge free, but it features a full bar for capping off the night in style. Located at 875 N. Michigan Ave. on the 96th floor, visitors can take a quick cab ride or practically any bus heading north on the Magnificent Mile. Once you're there, enter at the side doors on the south side of the Hancock building and ask the doorman where the elevators are located.
2. Hail a water taxi on the Chicago River
The architectural tour is a great way to see Chicago’s stunning architecture. But, it comes with a $40 price tag, and during peak season, the boats are sometimes packed to the hilt. By taking a water taxi, not only can you get the same views, but you can also take it all the way to Chinatown.
Details: One of the stops for the water taxi is located at the base of the Trump Tower located at 401 N. Wabash. After peeking in at the Trump lobby, head toward the river where you can get a round-trip ticket to Chinatown for $10. The full schedule and boarding info can be found here.
3. Go shopping in Bucktown and Wicker Park
The Magnificent Mile is a great place to shop, but for many of Chicago’s serious fashionistas, Bucktown and Wicker Park are a better choice. Both neighborhoods boast some of the same high-end shopping that can be found downtown, but in addition, are known for a slew of boutiques that feature clothes and jewelry made from Chicago’s best local designers.
Details: Both neighborhoods are accessed right off of the Damen Blue Line subway stop. And once you’ve worked up an appetite after all of that shopping, hit up Big Star taco bar, one of the hottest restaurants to open up in Chicago in recent years. In fact, since writing this blog last year, Big Star made its way onto the list of the nation's top Mexican restaurants. Bonus: Topolobampo in Chicago was rated No. 1.
4. Take a selfie at The Bean in Millennium Park
In 2006, tourists and locals alike got a new view of Chicago’s amazing architecture – one that was reflected in the mirror-like surface of artist Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean. Situated in Millennium Park, just steps from the world-renowned Art Institute, The Bean offers some of the city’s best photo opps. So grab your travel buddies and get a shot of the sweeping skyline behind one of Chicago’s most popular attractions.
Details: Pretty much all roads converge at Millennium Park so getting there shouldn’t be a problem. With so many downtown restaurants to choose from, however, the team at NetSphere Strategies recommends The Gage, which is located just across the street. Get info for the restaurant’s menu, pricing and reservations here.
5. Dine just steps from the beach at North Pond
With an impressive 26 miles of beachfront, Chicago has a lot to offer in terms of summer activities. A few of those activities take place in Lincoln Park, just north of the downtown. Not only can tourists cruise through the Lincoln Park zoo, which is free to the public, but they can also pop in on one of the nation’s most romantic restaurants – North Pond.
Details: Nestled in the plush grounds of Lincoln Park, North Pond was originally built as a warming shelter for ice skaters and is just a short walk from the lakefront. For a map to North Pond or information on its seasonal fare, head to its website here.
To learn more about NetSphere Strategies or to get additional tips on how to spend your time in the Second City, visit us at booth #1443 at IRCE or contact us directly.