A whole weekend without the kids. My honey and I ran away from the circus earlier this month, for 48 hours in “my kinda town,” Chicago!
We checked into the Hyatt Regency, which is perfectly situated in the heart of downtown, ideal for accessing destinations by foot or cab in all directions. Don’t miss the Museum Campus south of downtown, housing the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History (currently proposed as an addition to the campus is the yet-mysterious George Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts). Not on the campus but well-worth a short trip further south is the Museum of Science and Industry – adults can be kids again, maneuvering barrel-rolls in flight-simulators right beside a replica of the Wright brother’s ground-breaking biplane or descending deep into an Illinois coal mine shaft.
Head west with today’s cool kids to The West Loop – the neighbourhood boasts some of the trendiest hipster spots in the city. Choose among thirty draft beers at the cozy Au Cheval while waiting for your reservation across the street at The Girl and the Goat – one of Michelin’s designates in the city as a “Bib Gourmand” selection (a choice restaurant where one can typically enjoy two outstanding courses and a glass of wine for about $40).
Go north of the river from the Hyatt for more fabulous food options. Rick Bayless is Chicago’s sweetheart of gourmet Mexican fare – he has paired his exclusive Tampolobampo with the accessible, noisy, and charming Frontera Grill (another “Bib Gourmand” nod). Enjoy Mexican street food like sopes and tamales with top-shelf tequila cocktails.
Alternately, check out Pizzerias Uno or Due for Chicago’s deep dish pizza from the joint which claims to have invented it in 1943 – delicious, with its cookie crumble crust quite unexpected, and worth the 45-minute required wait for the bucket-list treat paired with a tall local pale ale.
South of the Hyatt, discover Chicago’s impressive public art collection. Do not miss an opportunity to explore the Art Institute of Chicago – like any museum of its size and scope, choose your target exhibits wisely or you’ll exhaust yourself trying to see it all in one visit. Outside, go beyond the iconic shiny Bean (Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate) and Frank Gehry’s playful Pritzker Pavilion to explore the wealth of sculptural works studded between and sometimes inside the severely modern skyscrapers of the area. You’ll discover works dedicated to Chicago from Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Calder, and Moore among others.
There is so much to enjoy on a weekend in Chicago, which feels eager to please and easy to dive into. And if it all gets to be too high-brow – the visual arts and renowned museums, the celebrated architecture, the world-class dining – stop into Garrett’s popcorn shop for a sample of Chicago’s own unique mix of cheese flavour with caramel corn (yes, I promise, it’s surprisingly satisfying).
The Hyatt Regency Chicago is the largest Hyatt property in the world. Over three years, its 2019 rooms and all public facilities have undergone $168 million in refurbishments, and it shows. The airy two-story lobby (with sleek bar, café, coffee stop, steak house, and lounge spaces) is like a futurist’s diorama come to life – with well-dressed guests moving unhurriedly at perfect right-angles to meet-up or to stop for a sit.
Our luxurious West Tower suite perched high above the Chicago River and the lake to the east. Below, the push of pedestrians on bridges and the river banks, and the barge and tourist-boat traffic on the water, evoked memories of Paris.