24 hours in Chicago
Chicago is our city, the place where my husband and I met and where four years ago I touched down, after my flight from London, and was captivated by the architecture, friendliness and ambiance.
My husband and I have moved many times since he was at University in Chicago and we have more packing and unpacking to go, although Chicago is definitely the city where we feel most at home, it's a pretty perfect city. We wish we could have stayed but alas, Chi can't compete with NYC in fashion credentials.
We are planning another trip in a few weeks and I thought I would share how we spend a day in this special place. Along the years we have discovered our go-to restaurants, favorite hotels and shops and whether your are a native Chicagoan, UK newcomers or visiting from another State, I think it's always useful to hear recommendations, especially those which are not sponsored or endorsed! So here's our 24 hours in Chicago...
My husband introduced me to Do-Rite Donuts and I was initially skeptical when he said he would take me to his favorite breakfast place. I walked in and thought I would be having Donuts, I went and secured a seat, as this place gets busy, and they only have bench seating.
I was waiting to see what Donut he had ordered me when he mentioned he had ordered a surprise. Moments later the server handed me something wrapped in silver paper. My husband ordered an egg-white, bacon, cheddar cheese and tomato breakfast sandwich inside a fluffy soft brioche bun. I was extremely surprised that this small Donut place offered really delicious and filling breakfast options. Obviously we couldn't leave without sharing a Valrhona Chocolate Glazed Donut and yes, you guessed it. Absolute perfection! For us, it's a ritual, our day starts at Do-Rite.
Our favorite location: 233 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
One of my all time favorites is Lincoln Park Zoo. It's is a 35-acre zoo located in Lincoln Park. The zoo was founded in 1868, making it among the oldest zoos in North America. It's also one of a few free-admission zoos in the US.
We went to the Zoo on the day we got engaged, it was definitely one of the best days of my life, (the day we legally married being first). We aim to leave ourselves three hours to spend there, it's great if you go when it first opens at 10 am. It's also a beautifully landscaped zoo, lots to do for all of the family and I would even spend a few hours by myself.
2001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614, USA
For lunch on the go we head back Downtown to Michigan Avenue, to the The Shops at North Bridge (or locally known as the Nordstrom Mall) and we head to the Food Court upstairs. We love Mezza Grill. Mezza has tasty comfort food which is healthier than some of the other options in the mall. You can choose between a plate which is served with brown or basmati rice or opt for the Pita option. My regular choice is the Chicken Shwarma plate and for what the US consider "mall food" it's delicious, affordable and the portion size is perfect. We tend to eat inside but you can get the food to-go and stroll to the river for a more scenic view.
A quick stop for a draft latte at La Colombe. As with most things in our lives, we discovered La Colombe through a collaboration with Barney's. We exclusively bought the Barney's x La Colombe coffee blend for three years. Suddenly one day we hear that La Colombe have five cafe's in Chicago. We don't know how we missed it for so long, although now it's not only on our radar, but also our family and friends.
A quick tip, if you are unable to stop in regularly, you can always buy their brilliant frothy latte in a can. Available at Whole Foods and local grocery stores.
4 E Elm Street, Chicago, IL 60611
A destination we visit frequently is the Art Institute of Chicago. I am lucky that I married someone who loves museums and galleries as much as myself.
It's rated among the world’s top museums by TripAdvisor travelers and is home to the greatest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, including works by Monet, Renoir, Seurat, and Van Gogh.
The museum is open daily 10:30–5:00; Thursdays 10:30–8:00; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s day. There is a fee for admission but you can take advantage of various offers.
We tend to spend 2 - 3 hours per visit although you can take in your favorite paintings and the atmosphere in an hour if you plan.
Michigan Avenue Entrance
111 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60603
If I am organized I always try to book an appointment an NoMi Spa for early evening. Located in the Park Hyatt Chicago, they offer refreshing spa treatments including massages, body therapies, facials and Nail treatments. You also get the opportunity to forget you are on one of the busiest streets in Downtown Chicago, taking a dip in their lap-lane pool and use the steam and sauna. It's a home from home and totally rejuvenating after lots of walking and sight-seeing. The best therapy ahead of a night on the town.
800 N Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60611
One of the first restaurants my husband and I went to, while we were dating has ended up being one of the most special places for us. During the many months we were apart I would surprise my husband by paying for his dinner at Fred's at Barney's, after his late night work shifts, normally after an intense day at college and he would return the surprise, sending me into Selfridges, in London, to pick up something that "he had spotted and I needed".
I would shriek when the sales associate would hand over a Christian Louboutin box, with shoes, sometimes nail varnishes, or a lipstick. The little gestures we did for each other, helped to bring us where we are today, happily married. We still surprise each other, often times not being able to hold it in before it arrives!
With that long introduction, Fred's restaurant is our go to eatery, for consistency, flavor, vibe, setting, location and staff. Honestly I can't remember a meal I haven't raved about and we have been more times than I can count.
From Pizza, Pasta and Lobster rolls to Bison Burgers, Turkey Club and Mouthwatering salads. We have tried so much and we love it all.
15 East W Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611
There's always an excuse to visit Sprinkles and see the Cupcake ATM. Honestly the first time I visited I think I thought I was in a far off magical land. Why haven't I seen a pink cupcake ATM on Oxford Street?!
In 2012 the world’s first Cupcake ATM was introduced at Sprinkles flagship Beverly Hills location. Soon after the Chicago River North bakery also debuted this 24/7 sweet treat fix.
The idea behind the ATM, is genius. Founder Candace Nelson began getting late-night sugar cravings while she was pregnant with her second son, she couldn't find anything to satisfy and so the concept of the Sprinkles cupcake ATM was born. I love the Cuban coffee but the traditional red velvet is a close second. The Cupcake ATM is restocked daily, and throughout the day, although I always go early-evening to ensure they don't run out.
50 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611
We found Z Bar, the new rooftop lounge in The Peninsular Hotel, by chance.
One very cold wintry evening, I was in need of warming up before our cta ride home. As we walked past the hotel, I said to my husband that I wished I could be in front of a roaring fire, sipping Earl Grey tea, suddenly he has an idea and we are inside The Peninsular in a low-lit lounge and my wish was his command. Earl Grey tea was being served in front of a roaring fire.
On a different evening, having remembered our tea visit, we thought we would go back to the same lounge. On this occasion, there was an event on and we couldn't find it. We asked for directions and we were pointed to the elevator. When the elevator doors opened, it was clear we had found the rooftop. It was actually the opening night for Z Bar and there were guests everywhere!
It was a memorable evening and we enjoy ending our Chicago trip on the rooftop terrace, offering beautiful views of the city, a great place to people watch!
108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611
Where to stay?
For luxury trips, when you want to stay in the hotel and make use of the facilities, opt for The Peninsular. You are guaranteed an unforgettable stay. This video gives you an inside glimpse.
Next I would choose The Park Hyatt it's a beautiful hotel and I mentioned NoMI earlier. don't forget to say hello to Parker, the hotel's resident canine member of staff. Parker, is a 5-year-old, one-eyed, pug who was adopted by the hotel from PAWS Chicago. One of the best ideas I have heard from a hotel brand.
For trips on a budget, I would first look at Airbnb or book through booking.com
Where to shop?
It wouldn't be a trip to Chicago without a little retail therapy! Our favorite stores are listed below:
Barney's New York - For everything but especially Byredo. This fragrance brand is high on my list of favorites and it's not a normal fragrance brand, prepare to be amazed!
MaxMara - The chicest of collections, the store is beautiful and the staff are really helpful.
Saks - They stocks collections you can only find online in Neiman Marcus. It's always worth popping in just to see what they have in store.
Nordstrom Michigan Avenue - I love this Nordstrom store, out of the many I have visited. They have put so much care and attention into the store and the staff are personable.
La Perla - Located on Oak Street, the La Perla store is a little peace in the busy city. I have worked with La Perla on numerous occasions and I love their lingerie-inspired day and evening-wear. Beautiful fabrics, made in Italy, what's not to love!
If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message and I will try to help. Have fun in our city.