I may be a middle-aged woman who has been around the block a few times, but I still get homesick! So, there is nothing really profound here-just an alternative track to what you might expect in a big city like Chicago. So, if you ever have occasion to be in the downtown area, please endeavor to do the following things:
1.) Walk down Michigan Avenue and at the foot of the Sun Times Building in the warmer months, take an architectural tour of the city via a boat ride on the Chicago River. (Even if it is cold, get some popcorn at Garrett’s along the way and please do not skip seeing the various pieces of architecture from across the globe on the façade of the Chicago Tribune building that is just across the street from the tour boats. You can also make funny faces at live radio disk jockeys. My favorite thing to do is to flash a leg. Don’t ask me why.
2.) Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo.
3.) Shop at Marshall Fields-at both the Michigan Avenue and State Street locations.
4.) Take a picture on the steps of the Water Tower that survived the Chicago Fire. Go inside, too!
5.) See a baseball game at Wrigley Field or take the “L” to Comiskey Park—I mean U.S. Cellular Field. And if you visit during the cold months---go to Soldier’s Field and catch ‘da Bears!
6.) See the museums—all of them. I mean it.
7.) Find out what those things are a few miles offshore that look like anchored ships when you stand on the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. (Hint: think water intake.)
8.) As you cruise along the bike/walking path on Lake Michigan, look for the dog beach, the golf driving range, full size chess pieces (bring your own pieces and use the concrete boards to play neighborhood masters), and at the very least the botanical gardens.
9.) Walk through the Gold Coast, you might even run into the Louis Sullivan house.
10.) Stroll down Michigan Avenue. Listen for the sound of jazz and blues bands and find yourself at the Marriott Hotel on the south end of Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River. Stop for a cocktail, dancing and general people watching. Order something at the Drake Hotel at the North end of Michigan Avenue and glimpse the grandeur of the 20th Century, even if you just browse the gift shops.
11.) Get on the ‘L’ and stop at Fullerton right above DePaul University and eat a Demon Dog!
12.) Try the Persian food at Reza’s Restaurant.
13.) Watch any sports game at Ranalli’s on Lincoln Avenue and eat something Italian while you are there. If they are busy, head toward the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Armitage for about three more sports bars.
14.) Catch a show at the Park West to see stars before they become REALLY famous.
15.) Find a Portillo’s, order a Chicago-style beef sandwich.
16.) Find a Giordano’s, order a Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza…I like the spinach.
17.) Go to Moody Church for a Sunday morning or evening service. If nothing else, take the architectural tour and find out how the balconies stay up even without any supports.
18.) Seek a restaurant in Greek town-eat some octopus and drink some Ouzo at least once in your life.
19.) Plan to catch the Chicago Air Show in late August at North Avenue Beach just South of the Lincoln Park Zoo.
20.) Ride your bike along the lake front, bring your roller skates, volleyball and softball bag, too so you can stop along the way to play.
21.) Make sure that you go to the Blue Frog on LaSalle Street in the River North area.
Just a little extra about The Blue Frog. I love the whole idea of it starting with the paradoxical logo that portrays a pink pig in scuba gear under the name The Blue Frog. If you remember hanging out in your garage (or want to see how your parents did before computers and electronic games), then you will love this place. From the Farrah Fawcett poster for the guys to dawdle over to some of my classic favorite games like “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots”, “Battleship” and “Twister” that you can check out from the bartender. Whatever your reasons for going, know that it is one of those places where you don’t have to generally worry about the riff raff and you can still park for free. If you listen closely, you might actually hear your mother calling you home to dinner with her voice—not via cell phone! Now, you don’t have to do any of these things…and there is always Rush Street for the true “partiers”. But, if you decide to go, I know that at that time and place, you will bring a smile to my face and I hope that it brings one to yours, too.