It’s no secret that TSP loves giving you tips and advice on what to do. How to be more positive, how to travel Italy and Bali, which products are the best for your pretty little face. The list can go on and on. One of my favorite things to write about is travel. When you find something that you know others must see or experience, it’s practically rude not to share the knowledge. For example, when traveling to Bali, it is almost a rite of passage to bring home a wooden carved wiener as it is considered good luck in the Balinese culture. Or sometimes you have to forfeit one adventure to make time for another one. In one case, opting to skip the Great Barrier Reef to explore what is considered one of the most beautiful beaches/national parks in the world – Whitehaven Beach, Australia. Breathtaking. Truth is, there isn’t time for it all. Every city has things you should definitely do and things you just shouldn’t waste a moment on. And this could vary for many reasons. Regardless the reason, when you are traveling you sometimes have to make some hard decisions on how you are going to experience a city or town. These decisions can make or break a trip so it’s important to consider your options carefully. And what better city to kick off this blog post idea than with the one I live in and love – the beautiful city of Chicago. The Midwestern epicenter for good food, a beautiful lakefront, stereotypes, an intimidating reputation, extremely hospitable people and some rude ones too. We have it all!
Today I am going to share with you some advice I have gathered while living in this big ass beautiful city. From living downtown and having worked in the hospitality industry, I have no doubt gathered some valuable tips for visitors, suburban folk and even other city dwellers like myself looking to explore. Let’s do this.
Don’t go to The Italian Village and expect amazing Italian food. I used to work for this concierge ad agency where basically restaurants bought “ads” for different categories. For example, The Italian Village bought the ad that proclaimed it as the BEST Italian Restaurant in the city. Are you serious? I damn near quit my job right then and there when I read that. I couldn’t freaking believe my eyes. Visitors come to Chicago, read this shit and then are lead to believe it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Food lovers, do your research, read reviews. Do not listen to paid for ads because you will be extremely disappointed. Here are some of mine and The Mister Project’s best bites in the West Loop to give you an idea of the great places that don’t buy ads. PS. for good Italian food, check out Volare, Spacca Napoli, Piccolo Sogno or Briciola. Just to name a few. Prego!
Don’t ONLY go see Michigan Avenue. That’s basically like only going to see the Statue of Liberty and not Madison Square garden or any of New York City’s cool ass neighborhoods. If you are not aware, Chicago has some seriously awesome neighborhoods with in the city. From Andersonville on the north side to Bucktown on the west side, there are so many options for adventures. I suppose if you love designer fashion and mediocre/touristy food, Michigan Avenue is just the place for you. But there is so much more to this city than a busy street and some fancy stores.
Do not say ketchup and hot dog in the same sentence. The Chicago style hot dog does not include the red sauce. It includes mustard, sweet relish, chopped onion, pickled sport peppers, tomato slices, celery salt and a pickle. Be prepared for an eye roll if you ask for ketchup on your dog.
Don’t let the news completely freak you out. Does Chicago have an unfortunately high rate of shootings? Yes. Does that mean you should not visit this glorious city? No. But it’s important to understand where the majority of those are taking place. Like many cities, Chicago has its good and bad neighborhoods. However, our city’s bad areas are pretty frigging bad. Now, unless you completely lose your way and somehow find yourself in the very bad parts of Chicago, you should be good to go. That’s not to say that some messed up stuff doesn’t happen in the regular parts of the city, however I think that is bound to happen in many if not all major cities of the world. Rule of thumb – be vigilant and instead of being glued to your phone while you’re walking, keep your head up and check out the beautiful surroundings this city has to offer. Common sense city stuff.
Don’t ask for a chocolate milkshake unless you want to see some big jammers. Now this does not go for every establishment, just the Wiener Circle in Lincoln Park. And yes, it is exactly as it reads. If you ask for a chocolate milkshake you will 100000% get more than just a milkshake.
Do not, I repeat, do not take a dip in the Chicago River. Unless of course you want to catch some weird skin rash and diarrhea. Like that one time Nicole jumped into the canal in Venice. Fair warning.
Don’t go to the beach on a super hot day on a weekend…just don’t. If you’re down to be on a packed, and I mean packed beach, with every other person and their mother who thought it would be a good idea, then go for it. If you’re looking for a chill, easy going day at the beach, I’m sorry, but you will be disappointed. But fear not, there is hope. Here’s the deal, the weekends are a cluster f*ck in the city, especially during the summer. Here are your options, choose a weekday to check out North Avenue beach or better yet, head up north to one of the more relaxed beaches. In town for longer and want to throw in a road trip? Hop in the car and check out one of Michigan’s beautiful beaches. You will be blown away by what this city’s neighbors has to offer.
Don’t get a Divvy if you don’t know how to ride a GD bike. The scariest thing is watching tourists and possibly locals hop on bikes, ride down the middle of the street or the wrong way down a street often sans helmet. Chicago drivers can be feisty. They won’t purposely hit you or anything, but I bet they’ll lay on their horn, give you the bird and yell something semi rude. To be fair, the drivers are the ones that will get into trouble if your ass gets hit and it’s scary for them (us) when bikers come out of no where. Take that Divvy of yours and head to the 606. Best place for a beautiful bike ride. Well, that and the lakefront.
Don’t just go to any yoga class, go to mine! This is total shameless promotion, but I don’t care. There are loads of yoga studios in the city, but why go to just any studio or teacher when you can come to mine. I’m here all week folks!
Don’t be surprised by some of the fashion. Chicagoans are an eclectic group of people who love wearing all sorts of different things. Listen, I’m walking around half the time in a denim tuxedo, so I’m part of it. Just don’t be surprised if it’s 45 degrees and you see people walking around in shorts and flip flops. We consider that a warm day.
Don’t underestimate the cool ass free things Chicago has to offer. From free symphony concerts in the park to free days at the museums, this city has a ton of things you and your family can do on the cheap. If you’re into museums, check their websites for free or discounted admission days. Into nature? Go take a walk thru the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It’s free too!
There you have it, TSPeeps! What else should one not do in Chicago? I’m all ears!
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