The best downtown Chicago hotels in the Loop
We always recommend the Loop as the best place to stay in Chicago. Why? Because it’s close to nearly every CTA El line, it’s a quick walk to the best museums in Chicago, the Willis Tower is there, the river provides easy access to great boat tours, and gorgeous inner-city green spaces like Millennium Park and Grant Park are nearby. There are plenty of restaurants in the area, too, but for the trendiest of the city’s eateries, head to River North or the West Loop. Luckily, those neighborhoods are just a couple of El stops or a short bus ride away. Make sure you take advantage of the best of the city by booking one of the best hotels in downtown Chicago. Whether you want somewhere bright and simple, elegant and luxurious, or just plain beautiful, we have all of the choices you'll ever need. Some places have 24-hour gyms, room service, free newspapers, rooftop bars... basically, read on, you'll find what you need. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the Chicago Loop
Lincoln Park hotels
Many tourists assume you have to stay in the Chicago Loop or River North neighborhoods to get a true “Chicago experience.” In fact, the opposite is true. When you book a room at Lincoln Park hotels, you get a sense for how Chicagoans live—from the restaurants and bars we go to on the weekends to the coffee shops where we meet up with friends. Plus, when you book these hotels in or near Lincoln Park, you're closer to major Chicago attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo, DePaul University and the Chicago History Museum. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the Lincoln Park neighborhood
Hotels near Wrigley Field
We get it: You've come a long way to see the Chicago Cubs play at historic Wrigley Field, and heading straight home after the game is kind of anticlimactic. After all, there are great sports bars to check out in the area, Chicago restaurants to dine at (once you've had your fill of ballpark hot dogs) and beautiful Chicago beaches nearby where you can spend a lazy day. So extend your Wrigleyville visit to a long weekend by staying at these hotels near Wrigley Field. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Wrigleyville
The best South Loop hotels
If you're visiting our fair city to catch a Chicago Bears game, staying near Soldier Field makes a lot of sense. Many of these South Loop hotels are just a short walk to the stadium, something you'll be thankful for in the winter or after you've had a few too many samples of Chicago's great craft beer. But you'll also be near other top Chicago attractions, such as the Museum Campus, Grant Park, the lakefront and Willis Tower. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the South Loop
Loop shops that go beyond discount chain stores
State Street in the Loop has every discount chain store you can imagine: Forever 21, H&M, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Target. Look a little closer, though, and you'll find some Loop shops that offer a boutique experience in the city's business district. Find a shoe store in one of Chicago's most beautiful buildings, a gift shop in a Chicago museum and so much more. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the Chicago Loop
Chicago emoji we wish existed
How many times have you been texting friends about Chicago restaurants and the auto-fill jacked up the word Chicago? What if, instead of typing the name of our city, you could just use a Chicago flag emoji instead? Or what if you could use an emoji to tell your friend you drank too much Malort during that dive bar crawl in Logan Square last night? Your life would pretty much change, that's what. We came up with 12 Chicago emoji we'd love to someday have on our emoji keyboard. Until that fine day, you can download our Chicago emoji images via Dropbox.
Bike tours: Global Doughnuts
RECOMMENDED: The best donuts in Chicago GUIDEFork and the Road LENGTH 12 miles, 4.5 hours STARTS AT Intelligentsia (53 E Randolph St) TOCEXCLUSIVE TOUR June 12 at 10am; $40. Bring your own bicycle and helmet. Future tours TBD. “This is not a calorie-negative ride,” cautions Sharon Bautista, co-owner of culinary bike tour operator Fork and the Road, and guide on the Global Doughnuts tour I’m taking on a chilly Sunday morning. Not that I had any hope that a 12-mile bike ride could possibly burn off the pounds of fried dough I am about to put in my face: Bautista says it’s a goal of hers and fellow owner Dimitra Tasiouras to never, ever let a rider on a Fork and the Road tour pedal home hungry. Before we saddle up, Bautista explains that most cultures’ cuisines have some version of sweet fried dough (it’s cheap and easy to make, not to mention awesome). Mexican, Polish and German cultures have a particularly long history and influence in Chicago, so we’ll be inhaling their versions of doughnuts today. STICK ITFrom Randolph Street and Wabash Avenue, we hit the road, pedaling south under the rumbling El tracks and zigzagging west until we spy the crowds swarming Polk Street and Desplaines Avenue for the Sunday-only Maxwell Street Market. Leaving our bikes locked to a rack, we stroll past countless vendors selling everything from shoelaces to chain saws, and food stands hawking birreria, tacos and pupusas, until the unmistakable smell of fried dough guides us to Xoco-Churro’s brig
The best shops in the South Loop
In the shadow of the Loop's skyscrapers, the South Loop is lousy with Chicago attractions—and residential towers. The people living in all those condo buildings and lofts need more than just Target for their shopping needs, and the neighborhood is starting to meet the demand with high-end liquor stores, bike shops and one of the city's best art-supply stores. These top shops in the South Loop are the seeds of a thriving shopping scene in the small but mighty neighborhood. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the South Loop
Review: Next Childhood
I was born in Chicago in 1975. Grant Achatz was born in Michigan in 1974. This puts me in the sweet spot for maximum enjoyment of the current Next iteration, which is designed to evoke the Midwest in 1985—the pinnacle of our childhood (Achatz’s and mine, that is). As the Star Wars soundtrack played, my elated 10-year-old self dug into a Cabbage Patch Kids lunch box complete with Strawberry Shortcake thermos (filled with a sweet berry booze); a much-less-salty take on a Funyun; and a Fruit-Roll-Up–like apple-brandy leather. Meanwhile, my Millennial companion stared at her Poochie thermos in confusion, much like the seniors next to us, who seemed perplexed throughout the meal. But the joy of dumping sweet-tart Pixy Stix powder down your throat and chasing it with a bubble-gum ice cream float knows no age bounds. Nor do you need to be a ’70s child (co-chef Dave Beran isn’t) to have your mind blown by the Autumn Scene course, half a hollowed-out log filled with smoking aromatics and topped with glass upon which carrots, fried leeks, mushrooms and broccoli are fashioned to look like the forest floor. As for the PB&J amuse and the deconstructed hamburger that you drag across ketchup, mustard emulsion, hamburger-bun sauce (better than it sounds) and dehydrated garnishes, both tasted better than my 10-year-old self remembered. This was not true of all the dishes, of course. But nearly every dish dredged up more long-forgotten childhood memories than a therapy session. Happier ones, a
Photos of Jennifer Hudson and Boystown revelers at Pride Fest 2014
Who looked better yesterday, Chicago's own Jennifer Hudson performing to a packed Pride Fest, or the glammed-out drag queens in these photos? We'll call it a draw. Thankfully the hometown diva took to the stage long before the massive storm shut down pretty much every outdoor activity in the city for an hour or so. Today's forecast looks far better, so get out there and enjoy one of the best parties on the Pride calendar. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Gay Pride Chicago 2015
Chicago's 4 best biscuits and gravy
Biscuits and gravy is a simple dish, but when done well, it's hard to imagine a more perfect thing to eat at brunch. We devoured all kinds of biscuits and gravy this year, made with everything from lobster to seitan, but these four versions at Chicago restaurants set themselves apart, thanks to perfectly fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, unexpected gravy and other toppings. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to brunch in Chicago
Your 24-hour itinerary: The Baller
Well, look who's fancy. You want to make it rain in Chicago? Easily done. Start with the most expensive brunch in Chicago, then get crazy-pricey spa treatments and eat at the most exquisite of Chicago restaurants. Sprinkle in some yacht-cruising, tiki drinks and stellar views of the city and you might as well be Kanye goddamn West.
I got a breast milk facial, NBD
When word got out a couple weeks ago that new River North spa Mud Facial Bar will be offering breast milk facials, Chicago collectively said, "Ewwwww!"—but also privately was intrigued. Look, I understand that breast milk dredges up weird feelings in people: It comes from a sexually attractive part of the body that we don't like to think of as also giving life to tiny humans. I remember being horrified, HORRIFIED, at finding a bottle of breast milk in my freezer that my friend had left after a party many years ago. I didn't even want to touch it (it might still be in my freezer). But then I became a mom, and I realized breast milk is not at all gross (no more gross than cow's milk), and it's actually pretty amazing. Not only can it solely sustain the life of a baby, it also clears up a baby's rash, cuts and other skin ailments. Knowing this, and because I was the only person in the office willing to give this facial a try, I went to Mud Facial Bar yesterday with an open mind. Mud positions itself as something like a nail salon, but for facials. You don't change into a robe, and the chairs in which you get the facials are all out in the open. Facials are $40, you can book online, and you're out in 30 minutes. As my aesthetician prepared the carrot-tomato cleanser she deemed appropriate for my oily-yet-dry skin, she explained that breast milk is naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which makes it an excellent acne cure and a great treatment for irritated, sensitive skin
The new Whole Foods in Edgewater is pretty much paradise
I have lived on the Far North Side for more than 10 years, and I'm moving to the Far Northwest Side in two months, so I greet today's opening of the new Edgewater Whole Foods with a mixture of excitement, sadness and a touch of anger. Why, oh, why couldn't this enormous, gorgeous store (formerly a crap Dominick's) featuring a bar, café and made-in-house gelato have opened even a year ago so I could partake of its many edible delights? Okay, enough of my fist-shaking. Here's why the store, located near the corner of Broadway and Thorndale, is more than just another Whole Foods store. It's the first Whole Foods in the Midwest to have a wood-fired grill. Order a whole, half or quarter chicken, in varieties such as jerk, cilantro-mojo and chermoula (a Middle Eastern marinade), and get your bird grilled to order. Also a Midwest Whole Foods first: the in-house cheese smoker. That makes for some pretty awesome smells. It has the biggest beer selection of any Chicago Whole Foods. That's 900 different beers, and you can mix and match to make your own six-pack. Begyle Brewery made a special Edgewater American pale ale, only available in the store—on tap at the bar or in bombers. The bar has a great local, Midwest and national beer selection. From Revolution, to St. Louis's fantastic Urban Chestnut to Stone in San Diego. You can also get cocktails at the bar. There's nothing like shopping for produce while tipsy on Moscow mules. The Broadway Norwood Cafe turns out freshly made pastas
You probably can't afford anything at the Gold Coast Goop pop-up
Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website, Goop, is opening a pop-up shop in the Gold Coast filled with Gwynnie-approved items. Open from April 25–May 10, the pop-up will take up space, appropriately enough, in the posh Waldorf Astoria Chicago Hotel. Now, before you get too excited and cancel all your NFL Draft plans, consider this sampling of pieces that will be available at the shop. This is some serious rich-people stuff, y'all. 1. Stella McCartney Jordan skirt &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img id="6d8e0ff2-2420-4a23-76fa-8fd11289946f" data-caption="" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="65295" loaded="65295" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102409545/image.jpg" class="photo lazy inline"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; This Stella McCartney crepe de chine skirt can be yours for a mere $1,960. 2. Pierre Hardy Skate Sneaker &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img id="eaf4f26f-e691-d789-ea32-d70a8216a04b" data-caption="" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="65295" loaded="65295" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102409549/image.jpg" class="photo lazy inline"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; $475. Never to be worn by an actual skater. 3. Staub Cast Iron Round Cocette &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img id="adb0cc61-882e-946a-c822-6c43d230125f" data-caption="" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="65295" loaded="65295" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102409551/image.jpg" clas
Does SoulCycle have Chicago soul?
SoulCycle, a New York–based cycling studio chain that’s said to offer a more enlightening experience than similar studios such as Flywheel, opened its first Chicago location yesterday in Old Town. After reading articles calling SoulCycle a “cult” and about the gladiator-style competition to gain a coveted front-row seat in class so as not to get distracted by less in-shape or enthusiastic people, I was dubious about its success in Chicago. Chicagoans are, generally speaking, a more laid-back, practical people. Are they really going to get on board with instructors shouting zen koans at them while they perform dance moves on a stationary bike in a candlelit room, at $30 per class (not including shoe rental)? I attended the studio’s first open class on opening day yesterday, and I’m happy to say that at least many of my doubts were allayed (except for the price per class—a nonstarter for many, I'd think). The studio itself is gorgeous, all shiny white, black and yellow. The lockers offer plug-ins to charge your phone (you are strongly asked to keep your mobile devices out of the cycling studio), and the locker rooms feature showers and some nice amenities like face wash, hair dryers, hair ties and plastic bags in which to put your sure-to-be-completely-sweat-soaked workout clothes after your ride. In the darkened cycling studio, the instructor's bike sits on a small raised platform lit by four candles, and the tightly packed rider bikes surround it, like pews around an altar. A
Taste test: Pret a Manger's new 'Chicago' items
Last week, Brit sandwich and salad emporium Pret a Manger debuted three Chicago-exclusive items: a Chicago Super Club sandwich, a Turkey & Wisconsin Cheddar sandwich and Pret's Chef Salad. What's so "Chicago" about these new lunch options? As far as we can tell, it's because two of the three have bacon and the turkey sandwich's cheese is from our neighbor to the north. So, not much. Doesn't matter. What's more important is how they taste. Chicago Super Club, $6.99. Calories: 530; fat: 3.5gRoasted turkey breast, bacon, Niman Ranch applewood-smoked ham, roasted tomatoes, romaine, mayo, black pepper, granary breadThe bacon stays crisp despite being nestled next to the tomato, and the lettuce adds nice texture. A little heavy-handed on the mayo, but overall something we'd get again. <img id="9fa0f3a8-1729-6979-8c4e-e8f6a65492c8" data-caption="Pret's new Turkey & Wisconsin Cheddar sandwich and Chef Salad" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="469545" loaded="469545" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102149971/image.jpg" align="middle" class="photo lazy inline"> Pret's new Turkey & Wisconsin Cheddar sandwich and Chef Salad Turkey & Wisconsin Cheddar, $6.99. Calories: 470; fat: 5gRoasted turkey breast, Wisconsin cheddar, dijon mustard, tomatoes, romaine, mayo, Pret's seasoning, granary breadThat cheddar is super sharp—a good thing—and the mustard/mayo combo adds some zip. A little extra mustard and a little less mayo would have made
The five best things to do this week
Winter cannot stop Chicago culture. It's another awesome week of cool events to get you out of the house and enjoying the city. Here are our top five can't-miss events: Sauced Night MarketThis roving food and art party sets up in Emporium Arcade Bar this month with food from DonerMen, Pecking Order and Bang Bang Pie, and beer from Solemn Oath, Two Brothers and more. Tuesday, January 20. StompThe banging-on-pots-and-garbage-cans-and-anything-metal touring show is back in Chicago for one week only. Tuesday, January 20–Sunday, January 25. Art Institute After DarkThis masquerade party (yes, you should wear a mask) features tours through the Modern Wing, cash bars and a DJ. Friday, January 23. Nerd Year's Resolution PartyNerds can find other nerds to mate with at this annual gathering at Lakeview's Blokes & Birds featuring trivia, prizes and plenty of liquid courage. Saturday, January 24. Randolph Street Market FestivalVintage-hunters, this is your jam. Peruse three levels of mid-century–heavy antiques in the gorgeous Beaux Arts Plumbers Union Hall Building. Saturday, January 24, and Sunday, January 25.
Where to recycle your Christmas tree
This weekend, Chicago alleys will become graveyards for sad, lonely Christmas trees, some with tinsel still hanging from their branches. It's depressing enough that the holiday season is over—let's not make our mood worse by tossing trees in the trash, okay? The city makes it pretty easy to recycle your tree. Starting tomorrow (January 3) through January 17, you can drop off your tree at 23 city parks, and the city will ground down the trees for mulch. The park locations are below, but if you can't muster the energy to do the drop-off yourself, you can contact Do the Right Thing! Recycling. For $25, they'll come to your house, take your tree (you need to remove the lights and ornaments, of course), clean up all those pesky pine needles and take the tree to its dignified end, a mulching drop-off site. Bessemer Park8930 S Muskegon Ave Clark Park3400 N Rockwell St Forestry Site900 E 103rd St Garfield Park100 N Central Park Ave Grant Park900 S Columbus Dr Humboldt Park Boathouse1369 N Sacramento Ave Jackson Park6300 S Cornell Ave Kennedy Park2427 W 113rd St Kelvyn Park4438 W Wrightwood Ave Lake Meadows Park3117 S Rhodes Ave Lincoln ParkCannon Dr at Fullerton Ave Margate Park4921 N Marine Dr Marquette Park6700 S Kedzie Ave McKinley Park2210 W Pershing Rd Mt. Greenwood Park3721 W 111th St North Park Village5801 N Pulaski Rd Norwood Park5801 N Natoma Ave Portage Park4100 N Long Ave Riis Park6201 W Wrightwood Ave Rowan Park11546 S Avenue L Sheridan Park910 S Aberdeen St Warren Park66
The 11 best things to eat and buy at Christkindlmarket
Christkindlmarket, one of the best holiday markets in the city, opened today in Daley Plaza, and we were among the first to explore the charming Bavarian booths. A few tips: 1) DönerMen, new to the market this year, has a curry wurst that you must eat, but the booth is tucked away near the corner of Dearborn and Randolph. Make it your mission to find it. 2) Some booths are cash-only, so hit the ATM before you go. 3) Go on a weekday when the market opens at 11am and you won't have to fight the crowds. We checked out all 60 booths at the market to find the best things to eat and buy. Our list: Snow balls ($5) from German Grill Company, booth #6: If you enjoy the taste of freshly fried dough, you’ll love these crispy morsels coated with powdered sugar.Photograph: Martha Williams Teapot ($62) from Polish Handcrafts—Eva’s Collection, booth #42: Your grandma would adore this lovely thing.Photograph: Martha Williams Germknödel ($10) from German Grill Company, booth #13: You’ll need to bring a friend to help you eat this giant, doughy plum dumpling doused in a sweet, creamy sauce and topped with sugar and poppy seeds.Photograph: Martha Williams Bean ornament ($20) from Wildlife Ornaments, booth #18: For your friend who moved away from Chicago but regrets it every day.Photograph: Martha Williams Curry wurst ($8) from DönerMen, booth #57: Local food truck DönerMen provides the finest version of this popular German dish, featuring pork sausage topped with tangy curry ke
33 reasons Chicago kicks New York's ass
Of course Chicago is better than New York. We Chicagoans know this to be true and, if New Yorkers are being honest with themselves, they know it, too. So, once and for all, we are ending the argument with these 33 reasons Chicago takes a Willis Tower–size dump on NYC. Our friends at Time Out New York came up with their own feeble list about New York's advantages over our city. Check that out at the bottom of this list, after you've had a good laugh at New York's expense. 1. This will always be our No. 1 beef with New York: Your city stinks. In Chicago, we put our garbage in garbage cans, which sit in our alleys. This is how a civilized society disposes of trash. 2. People are nicer here. Maybe that’s because we’re not always fighting each other for space on the sidewalk and the train, and over tiny apartments and low-paying jobs. 3. Our cockroaches are smaller, more timid and mild-mannered. Same with our rats. 4. Our football team actually plays in the same city and state. 5. The Chicago El is clean (kind of) and bright (mostly). Your subways are dank, fetid and dark. 6. We have large grocery stores in the city, while you have shitty, expensive, crowded bodegas. The NYC hipster on the right is aggressively adhering to his trendy lifestyle. Left photo credit: @phampants. 7. Our hipsters are less irritating than your hipsters. 8. People stay in Chicago for the summer because being here is like being on vacation. If NYC is so great, why is the city deserted in the summer? 9.
Other places the Lucas Museum resembles
Yesterday, I wrote a post suggesting that the renderings for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, meant to appear "futuristic," look just like Disneyland's Space Mountain...completed in 1977. Our readers responded on Facebook with other striking resemblances. Here are our favorites. And kudos to the guy who said the museum looks like "a tarp over a pile of stuff." Xanadu Houses, incredibly trippy and ugly experimental homes built Florida, Wisconsin and Tennessee in the early 1980s. Appropriately, all have been demolished. The St. Louis Science Center, built in 1963 Photograph: MBK (Marjie)/Flickr Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City, built in 1974 Photograph: Denis/Flickr
The Lucas Museum design looks kind of familiar
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, scheduled to open in 2018, released renderings of what the building will look like yesterday, and they gave us déjà vu. Not because they call to mind the spaceship-on-top-of-the-Acropolis monstrosity that is the nearby Soldier Field, but because the museum, designed by Chinese architect Ma Yansong, looks just like Disneyland's Space Mountain. The museum's website calls the design "futuristic," which is exactly how Space Mountain was described when it opened, in 1977 (interestingly, the same year Star Wars came out). We certainly didn't expect any museum birthed from George Lucas's loins to blend in seamlessly with the landscape, but we did expect it to be original. That said, if Lucas wants to put a roller coaster inside the museum, we wouldn't complain.
Parson's Chicken & Fish now delivers
Your winter is officially made. Parson's Chicken & Fish announced today that it will start delivering its carryout menu. Your options include some of our favorite Parson's dishes—pimento toast, fried and grilled chicken, fish sandwich, hushpuppies—plus a rotating selection of Bang Bang pie. But the best part: You can include booze in your order. Sorry, not the Negroni Slushy, but you can get bottles of wine that are all around $30, and beer, from Lagunitas to Old Milwaukee. It's a smart move for the popular hangout, since the patio, which makes up almost all of its seating, is closed in the winter (obviously) and the indoor seats Parson's does have are almost always full.