5 Things to Love about Chicago

While I’ve never actually lived within the city limits, I’ve lived just south of Chicago for my entire life, and as such, I have always felt a claim on the city as my own. A bonafide city-dweller might, perhaps, take issue with such a claim, especially if you are given the chance to tell them where you are from, only to watch as their eyes kind of glaze over while they try to pinpoint your city, your town, or really, any place, outside of the city limits. (It’s not altogether different from the way that some New Yorkers view the entire midwest as just one big hazy stretch of land that comprises the distance between NYC and the L.A.) Their disregard for life beyond that of The City can be annoying at times, though admittedly, I can see how one could be blinded by the brilliance of such a city as this.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I, as a life-long suburbanite, love about the city of Chicago. (Do remember that I fully admit to being completely biased, and maybe even a little starry-eyed.)

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  • The skyline. In my opinion, Chicago has one of the greatest skylines ever. I love driving up to the city, and seeing those massively tall buildings rise up on the horizon. Even more, I love flying into O’Hare airport, and seeing it rise up against the waters of Lake Michigan, looking ever so stately.  
  • Lake Shore Drive. Day or night, a ride along LSD is an experience. There is just something exciting and energizing about traveling that stretch of road, with skyscrapers rising up on one side of you, and the blue expanse of Lake Michigan on the other. I mean, I’m obviously not the only one to feel this way about it:

And if you just happen to actually be driving on LSD, and that song comes on? Magic.

  • It’s so green! Among the large cities I’ve visited, I think Chicago is one of the greener places. I visited NYC once, and I remember being struck by how little greenery there was anywhere. Outside of Central Park, there was not a single tree or potted plant. The “concrete jungle” is a well-deserved epithet. Chicago, however, always has the most amazing, enormous, window boxes and planters, all along the entire Magnificent Mile. There are tree-lined passageways along the Chicago river and elsewhere, and that little bit of nature in the middle of what would otherwise be just another ‘concrete jungle’ gives Chicago an entirely different feel. The plants all change with the seasons, and I’ve often thought about what an enormous job that must be, to plan and care for all of those plants. But I’m so glad that someone else values the beauty that they bring to the city.

    View from Millennium Park

  • Planters at Navy Pier

Native prairie grasses, Millennium Park

  • The food! Oh, the food. Whatever you want, you can find it here. Ethiopian? We’ve got that. Thai? But, of course. Sushi, Italian, Indian, Greek, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Swiss fondue… it’s all here, and more. And, let’s not forget, the renowned Chicago-style pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Perhaps not the healthiest of fare, but delicious? Definitely.
  • The museums. While there are so many good ones to choose from ~ the Art Institute, the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, the Field Museum, to name just a few ~ one of our most-loved remains the Museum of Science and Industry. With its ever-changing exhibits, there is always something for everyone. Having been there as many times as we have, you would think that we’d all have grown tired of the museum by now. But the ritual of a day at the MSI, followed by a little saganaki at The Parthenon on the way home, is a unique Chicago experience that we all still enjoy.

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I like this arrangement that we have, us and Chicago. I like living close to the city, but not directly in it. It’s completely accessible, and yet, we don’t have to deal with the hassles of city life (the parking! the people!) that would quite possibly rub the bloom off of that rose. Though I can’t technically call myself a Chicagoan, still, this city is so deeply entwined in so many of my memories: prom night dinners with my now-husband, amazing dinners with friends, cooking classes, date nights, visits to the theater, shopping trips, weekend trips with friends, my bachelorette party (!), watching my kids play in the fountains at Millennium Park, watching them explore “the bean” and the surrounding park, watching fireworks with kids and friends on a hot July night at Navy Pier. It is even the birthplace of my son. All of these memories, made in Chicago, make up a decent-sized chunk of my collective memory. I rather think I don’t need an actual street address to call it my own.

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What is your favorite city, and what do you love about it?