The best of Chicago
Written by: Milan Duda
A modern metropolis that throbs to the beat of jazz and blues. Hundreds of outstanding restaurants and shops. An unbelievable blend of nationalities and ethnicities from all over the world. Hours spent in excellent museums, at games cheering on the famous Bulls or Cubs, or idyllic picnics in parks on the shores of Lake Michigan. This is but a thumbnail sketch of what awaits visitors to Chicago.
general manager, Computer Associates
Favorite restaurant: Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 North Lincol Parkway, tel.: +1 773 348 8886
– interesting restaurant offering French cuisine
Mel Rose, Schaumburg, North Barrington Road
– western-style restaurant with traditional American steaks – but luxurious and expensive as well
Favorite night spot: NAVY PIER – the artificial peninsula on Lake Michigan offers popular amusements, restaurants, and steamboat voyages. There is a nice view of the skyline from there.
Favorite shop: Luxury goods and luxury prices in shops along Michigan Avenue. On Wabash Street you can get the same goods, but in less swanky shops and considerably cheaper. I am referring mainly to items like watches, cameras, and other similar electronics.
Favorite attraction: The amusement park Six Flags in the north of Chicago is interesting. My sons really enjoyed it, but I was scared white when I saw them hanging upside-down on the rollercoaster.
Best-kept secret: About 50 km outside Chicago, I discovered real nature with small lakes and wild animals – The Crab Tree Nature preserve, north of Algonquin Road behind Schaumburg. Entry is allowed from 8 am to 6 pm. There are not many visitors and the parking lots are empty.
Advice: There is no messing around with patrolmen. If they stop you, do not get out of the car, do not reach into your pockets and, in general, do not make any rash gestures or jokes. You will be risking your life. Avoid even reaching for your mobile in your pocket, which may look as if you are pulling out a gun. Police are trained not to be the second who shoots.
business analyst, Hewitt AssociatesFavorite hotel: Drake Hotel, 140 E Walton Place, Chicago, tel.: 1-800-55-DRAKE
– Elegant and traditional hotel offering reasonably priced accomodation right in downtown Chicago. Air conditioning, fitness, high-speed internet included.
Favorite restaurant: Hancock Tower Restaurant, John Hancock Center, 95 floor, 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
– Favorite Chicago dining place at the top of a highrise, where you can experience spectacular views spanning up to 80 miles and four states.
Favorite shop: Woodfield Mall, Woodfield Road, Schaumburg, tel.: 1-800-332-1537
– chicagoland’s largest shopping center, offering many of the finest stores and restaurants
Favorite attraction: Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), 141 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, tel.: 1-312-435-3590
– Established in 1848, the CBOT is a leading futures and options exchange. More than 3,600 CBOT members trade 50 different futures and options products at the exchange through open auction and electronically.
Best-kept secret: Authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
Favorite destination: – Lively grand boulevard at the heart of Chicago with many shopping
centers, including chic boutiques such as Armani, Ralph Lauren, etc.
Advice: – Don’t forget your rollerblades. Skating on a sunny day on the 15-mile path along Lake Michigan is a terrific experience.
weekend MBA professor, CMC/DePaul Favorite hotel: The Drake Hotel, 140 East Walton Place, Chicago, tel.: +1-312-787-2200
Favorite restaurant: Cape Cod room of the Drake Hotel, tel.: +1-312-787-2200
– famous for seafood.
Favorite night spot: Hard Drive, 151 East Wacker Drive, tel.: +1-312-239-4544
– hi-tech music videos on eight big screens, for the younger crowd
Favorite shop: Filene’s Basement, 830 North Michigan Ave. – for bargains
Marshall Field’s, State street downtown. – especially around Christmas holidays
Sports: The Bulls in the winter and the Cubs at Wrigley field in the summer.
Arts: the Museum complex downtown, including the Art Institute. Or just strolling down North Michigan Avenue – the Magnificent Mile – in any season.
Best-kept secret: The many ethnic restaurants around the city, especially on the north and north-west sides.
Advice: Do yourself a favor, and plan to spend a few extra days to see more of the Windy City.
Where on the web?
For further information, we suggest the following websites dedicated to Chicago:
www.enjoyillinois.com – website of the official tourism office, covering the entire state
http://chicago-cz.com/ – a site of Czechs and Slovaks living in Chicago. Useful information and experiences from people already familiar with the US
www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/north_america/chicago – a well-respected guide with practical advice for all travelers headed for Chicago
http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/ – ideal guide to Chicago’s bars, cinemas, theatres….
· The world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885, and since then many have sprung up in the city’s center. The most famous is the 110-floor Sears Tower that, along with many others, offers beautiful views.
· Almost all of the Lake Michigan shoreline is set aside for recreation and relaxation, with many beaches, museums, ports, and parks. The entertainment and shopping center is the downtown area called The Loop, featuring the famed Michigan Avenue.
· Chicago has been a jazz and blues town since 1915, and this music complements the atmosphere to this day, during the many festivals. One such festival is Taste of Chicago, an enormous event that swamps Grant Park for ten days in July, and drawing 3.5 million people.
· Chicago is the third largest US city, and boasts 29 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. There are nearly 10 million people of various nationalities and ethnicities in greater Chicago. Spanish and Polish follow English as the most widely spoken languages.
· The city is one of the world’s largest trade centers. Goods traded include steel, iron ore, limestone, coal, grains, and alcohol. Chicago also attracts many trade fair organizers, who enjoy the modern facilities there.
· There are 150,000 people of Czech origin in Illinois. The first Czechs arrived after 1848, and quickly established entire Czech quarters like Plzeň, Czech California, and Berwyn. Further waves of Czech immigrants came to in 1948, 1968, and 1989.