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Lake Culture in Chicago Reasons to Visit Chicago

5 Reasons to Visit Chicago

In Food Travel, Midwest by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch66 Comments

Our top 5 reasons to visit Chicago are Food, Coffee, Architecture, Art & the City Itself. The time to visit Chicago is now.

Lake Culture in Chicago
We hadn’t traveled to Chicago in over a decade. Once there for our recent visit, we saw the city with fresh eyes and were struck by the many things that make Chicago world-class.

We don’t know why we waited so long between our Chicago visits. If you haven’t been to Chicago lately, here are our five reasons to visit Chicago now:

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1. Food in Chicago

We knew that the food would be good, but we were still blown away by the food quality at all price points. We’ve already written about some of our excellent restaurant meals, but we also loved accessible local food like Chi dogs, popcorn and donuts.

Chicago Food - Top 5 Reasons to Visit Chicago

Chicago Food

Even the local outpost of Eataly has its own twist, not to mention an enviable selection of fresh produce.

Eataly in Chicago

Eataly in Chicago

2. Coffee in Chicago

We had grand plans to check out several coffee shops around the city. However, we ended up going back every morning to the same Intelligentsia shop for generous, well-constructed pour overs and friendly service. Why mess with perfection?

Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago - Top 5 Reasons to Visit Chicago

Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago

3. Architecture in Chicago

During our insider’s walking tour with a volunteer Chicago Greeter, we were struck by the city’s ubiquitous, amazing architecture. The city was thoughtfully rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1871, and the city’s planners have done an excellent job of mixing historic buildings with new skyscrapers over recent decades.

Chicago Architecture - Top 5 Reasons to Visit Chicago

Chicago Architecture

4. Art in Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the great museums of the world. We had just enough time to hit the highlights like A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (pictured below with Susan of BestBitsWorldwide), Nighthawks and American Gothic.

Appreciating Sunday in the Park with George at the Art Institute in Chicago

Appreciating Sunday in the Park with George at the Art Institute in Chicago

We’re also fans of pop art. It’s extra awesome when pop art and food collide during the same experience.

American Gothic Meets Hot Dog Gothic in Chicago

American Gothic Meets Hot Dog Gothic in Chicago

We saw lots of street art as well, not to mention a stunning Marc Chagall mosaic right in the middle of downtown.

Four Seasons Mosaic by Marc Chagall in Downtown Chicago

Four Seasons Mosaic by Marc Chagall in Downtown Chicago

5. The City of Chicago Itself

Chicago is a magical lakefront city with lots of outdoor space. Everywhere we went, people were enjoying the urban outdoor setting.

Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millenium Park

Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millenium Park

Final Thoughts

We were struck by the strong civic pride in every single Chicago resident who we met – a pride backed up by an awesome city of art, architecture and food. We’ll be back well before another decade passes to explore more reasons to visit Chicago. And next time – we’re eating at Alinea.

Hungry for more? Go to Au Cheval for one of the best hamburgers in Chicago.

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There’s so much to do when you visit Chicago. Click here to find an awesome Chicago tour or try one of these tours:

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Top 5 reasons to visit Chicago are Food, Coffee, Architecture, Art & the City Itself.

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  1. Great post highlighting things you did in Chicago! I missed the Art Institute, it looks like a lovely place! Also, I chuckled to myself because I took the same photo in Eataly 😀

  2. Great post! I fell into the Intelligentsia void as well when I was in Chicago – you’re right, why go anywhere else when their coffee is SO GOOD? The Art Institute is on my list for the next visit!

    1. Author

      We can get Intelligentsia coffee in Philadelphia, but it tastes better in Chicago for some reason. So good indeed!

  3. Some really great reasons to visit! I’ll admit I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago for the architecture and food but now I have even more reasons 🙂 A few years ago I mentioned in a group I wanted to visit and someone told me Chicago has nothing worth seeing – I really wish I remember who it was so I could send them this article 🙂

    1. Author

      We didn’t even mention the ethnic neighborhoods, the music scene and the craft beer. You really should plan a trip to Chicago!

  4. How did I miss the Art Institute??? Actually I know how, I am ashamed to say I tend to avoid museums because they put me to sleep, but that painting by Seurat is one of my all-time favorites. I should have done some research!! Kicking myself.

    1. Author

      The art will be there next time you go to Chicago. So, you saved something for the future. Nothing wrong with that!

    1. Author

      Not so windy in June. February, however, is another story.

  5. You had me sold with the first picture of donuts! I haven’t been to Chicago since I was a kid and really need to experience it as an adult who can enjoy some of the great coffee and an hour or two at Eataly.

    1. Author

      You should definitely re-visit now that you can appreciate the food and coffee.

  6. Chicago, love the ciy! Chicago was my first long-haul flight/travel on my own. What I remember the most is the popcorn, caramel… I loved it and brought something home. My husband hated it… 😀

    1. Author

      We always get the Chicago mix (caramel and cheddar) when we fly through O’Hare. It’s surprisingly delicious.

    1. Author

      There’s so much to do in Chicago. We just tipped the iceberg.

  7. Well I’m certainly convinced! Especially by number three, I love architecture and Chicago does seem to have some great stuff!

    1. Author

      We could have included so many more architecture pictures. So many interesting buildings in Chicago!

  8. I’m convinced that I need to visit Chicago! It seems like an awesome city and I’d be there in a flash for the architecture alone. Everything else is a great bonus!

    1. Author

      You should take an architecture tour. We did one with a Chicago Greeter. It was great to get the stories behind the buildings.

  9. I’ve seen umpteen pictures of Chicago shared by my friends who live there, and decided that I definitely want to visit this city sometime. The buildings and the urban atmosphere coupled with the art scenes are really attractive.

    1. Author

      You should visit in the summer or fall to take full advantage of the urban atmosphere. It’s definitely worth a visit soon, especially since you have friends in Chicago.

  10. Excellent post. As a Chicago Greeter (free service!!), appreciate the reference in #3. And yes, our winters can be tough but no one celebrates the spring like Chicagoans. We are actually called Windy due to our bragging about ourselves – thanks for showing just some of the reasons we deserve to brag.

    1. Author

      We loved our Chicago Greeter. It was his first tour, and he did a great job of showing off your great city.

    1. Author

      Thanks! It’s easy to write a great post about a great city.

  11. It’s been more than a decade for me but I’m glad you mentioned the green spaces and the art institute. The latter really is an excellent museum.

    1. Author

      We agree that the Art Institute is one of the great museums, not just in Chicago but anywhere.

  12. I haven’t really considered going back to Chicago after my one visit as a kid. These are definitely good reasons to head back!

  13. That’s it! I really need to buy a ticket for Chicago! It looks like my kind of city! Love the modern architecture!!!

    1. Author

      We love the mix of modern architecture with the historic buildings. Kudos to the city planners!

  14. The architecture looks fantastic! I would go just for that alone. I may be going to Chicago this summer, so I’ll have to keep this bookmarked.

    1. Author

      The architecture is a great reason to visit Chicago, but you’ll find so much more when you get there.

  15. You sold me at food. May have a little something to do with the fact that it is dinner time and I’m starving but I would love to eat everything in those photos!

    1. Author

      The amount of good food in Chicago is ridiculous. We can’t wait to go back for more.

    1. Author

      The Chicago architecture is a perfect mix between old and new.

    1. Author

      We really appreciated the mix of modern and older architecture. So many interesting buildings.

    1. Author

      I could go for a cup of Intelligentsia coffee now as well…

  16. ive been to Chicago several times and my friend pola took me to the coffee shop you went to. went to was dollap. on my first trip I did the architecture tour and also where is that eatly place love the quote.

    1. Author

      Eataly is on Ohio Street near Michigan Avenue. Definitely worth a visit.

    1. Author

      You can’t go wrong with great coffee and great art!

  17. The architecture definitely looks awesome. Not how I’d imagined Chicago at all but now that I think of it, I don’t really know much of the city….

    1. Author

      It’s easy to think of Chicago as a midwestern city. But it’s so much more.

  18. That coffee place looks fantastic! And I love all of the art around the city. You’re giving me some good reasons to visit!

    1. Author

      You should definitely plan a trip. Theres much to do and good coffee to drink.

  19. I have to go there for work a few times a year and always love it. Looking forward to another trip out there in a few weeks – going to try and make it to Hot Doug’s before he closes.

    1. Author

      You should definitely try to sneak away to Hot Doug’s for lunch. You won’t be sorry.

  20. I honestly can’t wait to go to the USA next year. Thanks for your article, Chicago is on the list!

  21. whoah this blog is wonderful i really like studying your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You know, many people are
    searching around for this info, you can aid them greatly.

  22. Great post! I love Chicago! I thought the food was great, did you make it to the French market? Love the public art and the architecture, such a fab city!

  23. Wow, I didn’t know Chicago was this versatile. The food and art look really great, thank you for sharing this 🙂

  24. Hmm, you may just have convinced me..I’ve been searching for a fall city destination and maybe this is it! Although better not leave it too late in the fall, I’ve heard the wind can be pretty brutal 😉

  25. That hot dog really makes me miss being back home in Chicago! Great post, and great reasons!

  26. As a Chicago blogger, I always love to see what others write about my beloved city. Glad to see that you are acknowledging all of our awesome features…sorry to say that Hot Doug’s just closed but as you know, we always have tons of other great food options!

  27. You are right the food in Chicago is amazing. I love their local restaurant. Their city is just so amazing and beautiful. I think it is one of the best places you can visit in USA.

    1. Author

      We want to spend more time in Chicago. We agree that it’s one of the greatest US cities.

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