At the end of August, me, Maxim & Pluto decided to leave our usual New York stomping grounds and check-out Chicago, a cultural center in the Midwest. Chicago is a vibrant metropolitan city known for it’s musicculture, Lake Michigan and magnificent skyline:

As a die-hard New Yorker, I was more than pleasantly surprised with how green the city was – it seemed that anywhere I looked there would be a well-manicured plant or a flower bed. Chicago is also very walkable – our little gang put on a lot of miles during the day exploring the city. And finally, how many different neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel there were to explore. All and all, we got to spend almost a week in Chicago, and while the city’s dining scene deserves its own blog post (coming as Part 2 soon), first I wanted to introduce you to the place where I stayed and some of the things that I got to do. This list is by no means exhaustive of all of the countless entertainment options that Chicago has to offer. But I wanted to give you a little sneak peek of the “Windy City” through my eyes.

Stay – Blueground Homes

We stayed with Blueground Homes in a 1-bedroom 5th floor apartment in River North.  Honestly, the space was pretty great and I think I enjoyed it more than I would have if we simply stayed at a hotel. Here’s why: 

Amazing location. The apartment was just minutes away from downtown Chicago and the beginning of “Magnificent Mile”, an avenue which hosts shops, upscale boutiques, restaurants and hotels.

Access to all of the building’s amenities. In our case it included access to the roof where we’ve spent quite some time enjoying a quick break during the day and even making new friends in the building!

Pet-friendly. So Pluto got to come on this trip with us! He made other doggy friends in the building as well and loved exploring Chicago just as much as we did.

The place comes furnished with everything you need to start living! In our case it included a coffee-maker, fully stocked kitchen, washer, ironing board, an amazing bluetooth speaker and a flat-screen TV. It definitely felt like a home away from home.

Watch – Blue Man Group

Ok, now if you are looking for something fun to do for the whole family – you cannot go wrong with seeing Blue Man Group.  We went to see their show on one of the nights we had off and it was amazing! For those who don’t know what Blue Man performances are all about, it could be hard to describe them. Their show are one part concert, one part performance art, and one part comedy show. These 3 blue…people? aliens? play instruments, pull pranks on each other and interact with the audience. Oh, and through-out their whole performance, they don’t say a single word, communicating only through non-verbal cues and body language.

The whole audience was really into the show, they had great interactions to make everyone feel included (and sometimes grossed-out by some of their antics). I almost got picked for one of the skits and let’s just say, I might have lost it laughing on the stage. So in retrospect, good thing I didn’t get picked 🙂 They first put on a show all the way back in 1991 in New York’s Astor Place Theatre, but since expanded to additional domestic residencies in Boston, Las Vegas, Orlando and Chicago. So if you are ever in any of these cities, definitely go check them out!

When visiting Chicago, I highly recommend taking a boat cruise. Sitting on magnificent Lake Michigan and Chicago River, you get to experience the whole city by water and it’s well worth it. The tour we did was called Mercury’s 3D Fireworks Cruise. Mercury Cruises have been operating in Chicago for over 84 years, so we knew the experience was going to be top-notch. After debating on which tour to take (they have Architectural and even Canine Cruises for dogs!), we ended up going with a night-time cruise to see the fireworks. Yes, the city of Chicago seems to like fireworks so much that twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, they put on a firework show on the lake.  Tons of boats, both private and carrying tourists like myself, come out at night to get the best view on the water. For the next 10 minutes or so, the show in the sky was spectacular! Besides the breathtaking fireworks display,  our tour guide also did an amazing job of talking about the city and all of the famous landmarks and skyscrapers that we passed sailing on the river. So I would definitely recommend this experience to History buffs and Architectural junkies as well.

Listen – Nao Concert @ “Metro”

Nao is a modern r&b performer from England. We caught her set at “Metro” venue near Wrigley field. The venue itself was pretty stunning – an older intimate “theater-like” setting with the main floor and a balcony 2nd level, which in the past 40+ years has hosted such act like Nirvana, Oasis, James Brown and Chicago’s own bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair. The concert was a blast, Nao stopped by the day before she was set to play at Afropunk festival back in NYC, and she came out with a bang! Girl did her thing and had the crowd singing and dancing throughout the whole concert. Definitely recommend stopping by “Metro” or any number of other music venues in Chicago  to check-out a live performance…And while we are on the subject of a new crop of British r&b talent, they are definitely doing something right overseas – see Jorja Smith, Ella Mai, and FKA Twigs to name a few. These ladies are slaying the game!

So that’s it for the 1st part of my Chicago experience, Gems. Stay tuned for part 2 – Dining in Chicago! 

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