Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
If you’re living in, or planning to move to, Chicago in 2019, congratulations. A truly great American city awaits you.
Whatever you do, don’t become one of those Chicagoans who never ventures to Western Avenue on a hot summer day to sample an iconic Rainbow Cone. Don’t let your time in Chicago end without loosening winter’s icy grip with a visit to the tropical environs of the Garfield Park Conservatory.
Do check as many items as possible off this bucket list of traditional and trendy experiences:
Grab a tin of Garrett Mix: You might be a block away when you first smell the gourmet popcorn churned out of copper kettles in the heart of downtown since 1949, now available at locations in the Loop, West Loop, Streeterville, Lakeshore East and beyond. The classic combo of caramel and cheese popcorn is what you want — and napkins.
Baste in the bleachers: Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues, is a must-do. The only way to do a game at Wrigley is a day game in the heat of the summer. In the bleachers, wearing as little clothing as is legally allowed, while drinking a draft beer.
Chime in at The Second City: The Second City is ground zero for sketch and improvisational comedy in the United States. This Old Town institution often riffs off audience suggestions, and nothing quite beats the exquisite tension you feel just before shouting “marsupials!” in a crowded room.
Drinks at The Signature Lounge: Have a cocktail and take in the amazing views 96 floors above the convergence of the Gold Coast and Streeterville — and one floor above The Signature Room at the 95th — in the edifice formerly known as the John Hancock Center and now referred to by its address, 875 North Michigan Avenue. Unless you’re a local.
Do the Lakefront Trail: Except during the harshest storms, this 18-mile Chicago Park District trail extends across the most-photographed areas of the city — from the South Loop to Lincoln Park and points beyond. Newly divided into lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians, there are few better places to sightsee and work up a sweat simultaneously.
Get the blues: Chicago electrified the blues. At Buddy Guy’s Legends in the South Loop, the namesake owner is still electrifying audiences during an annual January residency. However, Kingston Mines, opened in Lincoln Park in 1968, helped (along with some British Invasion superstars) launch the blues out of South Side clubs and is a great place out of which to stumble in the wee hours (Saturday night sets start as late as 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning).
Remember, a list of all of Chicago’s attractions would be impossible to finish — and ultimately incomplete. Part of the beauty of Chicago is not just visiting its acclaimed restaurants — Alinea, for example — or to know the traditional favorites in Little Italy. It’s discovering places yourself that you can tell other people to put on their bucket lists.