Sunday, December 29, 2013

25 Reasons to LOVE Chicago

After 25 years of living in Chicago, here are 25 reasons to love the city despite the weather.

1. Great food, Restaurants, and Chefs:

Home to Jimmy Bannos, Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard, Bill Kim and the molecular gastronomists at Alinea, Moto, ING, Schwa, and Graham Elliot's, Chicago is easily the most progressive restaurant city in the country. 

Throw restaurant owners like Theresa Nguyen and Mary Nguyen Aregoni and their Mama Su into the mix, and restaurants get pretty perfect. 

2. 26 miles of beachfront and 19.5 miles of bike paths:

The bike paths connect you with some of the most spectacular views… and food… in the city.

3. Public Transportation:

Between Metra, your bike, the water taxi, the L and the bus, you can get anywhere in Chicago. My favorite way to travel? Running!

4. Neighborhoods:

The language you hear spoken pretty much defines the neighborhood and great eats can be found on every corner. 

I can’t say that I’m partial to any one of them. I love exploring them all.

5. Lake Shore Drive:

This amazing roadway runs through most of the city and connects you with many of its top restaurants, neighborhoods and shops.

6. The Chicago Skyline:

No matter where I see it from, it never fails to take my breath away.

7. Navy Pier:

Navy Pier is the leading lakefront playground in Chicago. From rides, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping, Navy Pier does have it all.

8. The Chicago River:

The river is memorialized by two horizontal blue stripes on the Municipal Flag of Chicago and is dyed green every year in the spirit of St Patrick's Day.

9. North Avenue Beach:

The best beach in the city hosts international volleyball tournaments and sun worshippers alike. Great food and water sports but even better people watching.

10. The Championship Chicago Blackhawks:

The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks…I like the sound of it…again!

11. The Cubs and Wrigley Field:

One of the best summers I had was working as a photographer for the Cub's home games. Wrigley is an institution…as is Murphy’s Bleachers.

12. Festivals:

The Taste of Chicago, the Jazz Festival, the Blues Fest, Taylor Street Festa Italiana, Taste of Greece… there are hundreds of summer festivals and in Chicago you can party with the best of them every weekend.

13. Lake Michigan:

There are so many ways to play...jet ski, paddleboard, windsurf, sail, kayak, water ski...

14. Eataly:

This 63,000 square foot theme park of all things Italian will get you wondering how to be Italian in your next life.

                                                                                                        Photo: NBA

15. The Chicago Bulls and Legend Michael Jordan:

The Bulls  and Michael Jordan had one of the NBA's greatest dynasties, winning six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998 with two three-peats.

16. Michigan Avenue:

I can get in so much trouble wandering up the Michigan Avenue bridge to 900 North...not just shopping but eating too.

17. Green City Market:

This market connects farmers and local producers to chefs, restaurateurs and food-loving Chicago. Sustainably grown food and education makes this market one of the best in the country.

18. Maxwell Street Market:

On any given Sunday my favorite place to hang out for real Mexican food.

19. The Bean:

The most popular sculpture in the city is a go-to for photos because of its unique reflective properties.

20. The Loop:

The heart and soul of Chicago, the Loop is the center and most iconic section of the city.

21. Parks:

Part of what makes Chicago one of the most beautiful cities in the country?
580 parks including Millennium and Grant.

22. Sears Tower:

I lost my fear of heights on the ledge one morning. What’s not to love looking 1,450 feet down?

                                                                                                Photo: CBS News
23.Lincoln Park Zoo:

Chicago’s free zoo at one of the best locations in the city. They also host one of the city's best runs.

24.Solider Field and Da Bears:

The views from this field are renowned. Mike Ditka still reigns having won an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach.

25.Signature Room at the John Hancock building:

Grand vistas and some of the best memories of my 25 years in Chicago.