5 Reasons to Head to Chicago This Summer
By Everett Potter
Thinking about heading to Chicago this summer? I teamed up with Expedia.com to bring you five great reasons to go.
CHICAGO ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION HOTEL
Set right on Michigan Avenue, across from Millennium Park, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is a Venetian Gothic structure that dates from 1893. A private men’s club until 2007, it has been reborn as a 241 room luxury hotel that has retained much of its architectural splendor. What I like about it are the buzzing bars and restaurants and lounges tucked within it, which still give it the aura of a private club. Up on top, Cindy’s Rooftop, where getting a seat takes some effort, is my new favorite rooftop bar in the city, with lake views and view of the city’s glittering lights. Check out Expedia.com for all Chicago hotel options.
THE LAKEFRONT RESTAURANT AT THEATER ON THE LAKE
This past fall saw the opening of The Lakefront Restaurant. More than just another new restaurant in Chicago’s constantly evolving dining scene, its location is noteworthy: the historic Theater on the Lake building at Fullerton, close to Lake Michigan. This is dining in the park in an upscale tavern with bar seating, private tables, communal seating and a lounge area. Summer sees the opening of The Lakefront’s Skyline Patio, with great view of the lake and the downtown skyline. Chef Cleetus Friedman is the man behind the seasonal Midwestern fare, which he serves alongside a range of the Windy City’s craft beers.
A LITTLE CULTURE
Tourists may queue for the Art Institute of Chicago but if the lines are long, I prefer less visited venues, like the Chicago Architecture Foundation a couple of blocks away. Or maybe getting a last minute ticket and taking in a concert at Orchestra Hall, also close the Art Institute, where the superb acoustics of the intimate hall are matched by the musicianship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Or simply strolling for a few hours in Lincoln Park, just a mile from downtown, and taking in the Zoo, the Chicago History Museum and the North Avenue Beach. For me, it has always seemed like the soul of this great city.
Not far from The Loop, River North is filled with restaurants that are walkable from most downtown hotels. This is where you find Chef Rick Bayless’s famed Mexican trifecta of restaurants: Topolobampo, Frontera Grill and Xocalo. For me, Bayless’s culinary genius is reason enough to head to this neighborhood. But there’s also Eataly, a two story emporium of all thing Italian, where you can dine at La Pizza & La Pasta, grab dessert at Cannoli Bar or Gelato Bar, or maybe take a class in pizza making, knife skills or sausage making.
HYDE PARK REBORN
If you know of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it may be because you read the bestseller Devil in the White City, about the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Or you’ve visited the incomparable Museum of Science & Industry. Or perhaps because it’s the home of the University of Chicago. Well, it’s time to rediscover Hyde Park when SOPHY Hyde Park , a brand new 98-room boutique hotel, opens this summer. Located at 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue on Chicago’s South Side, SOPHY is close to the site of the future Barack Obama Presidential Center. Gospel music, science, mathematics, art and literature are the themes that will inform the hotel’s interior design. SOPHY will feature artwork from contemporary Chicago artists and design elements inspired by the World’s Columbian Exposition, including barn doors in the private dining space that use circular elements to suggest the world’s first Ferris Wheel, which debuted at the fair. Check in to watch as one of the city’s great neighborhoods, with some of the city’s best residential architecture, is reborn. Check out Expedia.com for all Chicago hotel options.