It started with a field trip in elementary school. Don’t remember which grade. Can’t say for certain what we visited. (Most likely that big ol’ Museum of Science and Industry.) What I do know? We took a bus to downtown Chicago and little girl me was IN AWE.
Now, I’d been to Chicago as a child a few times before that—but only to visit family. In the suburbs. On the southside. So technically not in the city. Plus, I was suuuuper young and have only tiny, blurred snippets of memories from those experiences.
So that field trip. That was my first real glimpse of the Windy City skyline, peering out the window of a big, yellow bus.
Sadly, school trips to Chicago weren’t terribly frequent, but I suppose that made them all the more special. From age 0 to 22, I didn’t travel a whole lot—mostly within my home state of Michigan, plus occasional trips into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. That’s it. Sooo Chicago was a treat. And, the one place I could count on to satisfy my raging wanderlust and big city curiosity.
Though I’ve visited a LOT more cities in my 20s and now 30s, Chicago remains my favorite city. Why? Gosh, I’m so glad you asked. These are the whys:
1. Chicago’s iconic architecture
Something about alllllll those skyscrapers—old and new—with the river running through them and the lakeshore on one side… my eyes turn to hearts just thinking about it! Plus, there’s the Willis Tower (you’ll always be the Sears Tower to me!), the John Hancock Center, Tribune Tower, and loads of other standout, sky-high structures.
2. The classic bridges in Chicago
Speaking of the river, I’m a serious sucker for bridges—especially bridges with character. And Chicago bridges? They’ve got that vintage vibe I can’t get enough of. AND there’s plenty of ‘em. So yup. More heart eyes.
3. The Chicago Lakeshore
I kinda already mentioned this with the skyscrapers. But the lakeshore stands on its own, too. Navy Pier, a loooong pedestrian path, sailboats, annnnd you can’t see across it. A truly great city on a truly Great Lake. It was destined to be, people.
4. The Chicago Riverwalk
From the inner city to the lakeshore, this walk not only offers a unique vantage point of the city and riverscape, but also keeps you from needing to stop at every single intersection. If you hate waiting for that WALK signal, take the Riverwalk below the street. Genius, right? Plus, there’s food down there!
5. Chicago has incredible museums!
If you’re nerdy or artsy like me, you’ll appreciate this one. A few of my favorites? The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute, and the Oriental Institute Museum (ancient Egypt, anyone?). Google “Chicago museums” and you’ll find the rest!
6. Visit Chicago’s parks
Sure, it’s tough to compete with Central Park in NYC. But Chicago holds its own in the parks category. Millennium Park with its beloved Cloud Gate (aka. The Bean) and the Lincoln Park Zoo with sweeping city views are both gems. Oh, and the zoo is FREEEEE. Y’all know I love free, right?
Okay, I’ll stop there. I could write a whole research paper on the places I love in Chicago. I mean, I haven’t even touched on the restaurants, the shopping, House of Blues (probably my favorite music venue, btw). My goal here is to give you a glimpse of the magic I see when I visit Chicago—so if you haven’t been, you’ll realize it’s a MUST. And, if you have been, reading this will re-ignite your own special memories from this great city on a Great Lake.
And, since my photos do NOT do the Windy City justice, please… puhleeeeze… check out my favorite Chicago photographer’s Instagram feed.
Your turn! Leave a comment below and share either your favorite city OR your favorite Chicago memory. Aaaaannnd, GO.