In the past few years craft beers and breweries have popped up all over the place and Chicago is no exception to the rule. There are now 6 class act breweries with at least one more to open in the next year. To add to that, there is now a beer tour that will take to you a few different ones while giving you a bit of history about beer & Chicago. If you have a group of friends coming to the city and you are looking to do a different type of tour, check out the Chicago Brew Bus. It’s a safe and fun way to goof off for an afternoon.
Some of the breweries that have popped up here in the past few years are a nice complement to our older craft beer producer Goose Island. For our Conventioneers, we will also be welcoming our newest brewery Broad Shoulders Brewery to Chicago this summer right near McCormick Place Convention Center at 2337 South Michigan Ave. This is a far cry from what Chicago had during the turn of the 19th century with just short of 60 breweries.
Either way, come join us for some fun in Chicago. Spring is just around the corner!
Dive bars are few and far between in Chicago’s River North Neighborhood. But every once and a while I will get a guest who will ask me where a good local joint to grab a beer and watch the game. Go no further than at the end of our block on the corner of Illinois & State street where you will find Snickers. You can look it up on Yelp and find out what the reviewer say about it, but the common theme is that they don’t have one common type of crowed. You will find the 80 year old grandpa, the 22 year old frat boy and a hotel general manager cheering on their hometown favorite teams.
Snickers Bar & Grill
It doesn’t have a pretentious atmosphere or a bouncer at the door. They welcome just about anyone in who is willing to keep a bar stool warm. They serve Greek food, that I understand ain’t half bad. It’s not the kind of place you order wine from. They have a pretty good bottled beer selection and a few beers on tap. I’m pretty sure they go through about a case of Jameson a night on the weekends from the amount of shots I’ve seen them pour (note the $2 shot sign in the window).
Sometimes on a night out, you don’t want to have to scream to the person next to you or listen to the thump of the DJ booth. When it’s that kind of night out, give Snickers a try.
Every spring once it starts warming up, we start seeing a ton of boats migrating from the cold storage docks out to the lake. Every once in a while you will get the opportunity to see all of the bridges rise while the sailboats make their way through the locks.
Of course one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago is the Chicago River Boat Tour. Whenever I have family and friends come in to town this is always one of my top three that I suggest, besides the Skydeck & one of the Museums. The tours will take you up the north and south branches of the river and give you full history of the buildings and the history of the river. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and encourage interaction. Most of the tour guides I have spoken with in the past are former architects, architecture students or big time history buffs. Every one of them have an amazing passion for what they are talking about.
The Chicago Line Architecture Cruises run about every hour and the 2012 costs are:
- $40 for adults
- $32 for seniors 65 and older
- $22 for youths ages 7 to 18
- Children 6 and younger sail free
Two tips that I encourage you to do:
- See my front desk team at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown before you head out, they can call ahead and make reservations for you with a deposit. That will save you time waiting in line.
Wake up a few minutes early and take the 8a cruise, it’s $10 off each person.
All too often the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown has families looking for activities to do in the evening. One of my personal favorites is FREE… Movies in the park. From classic movies like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” to new movies like “Puss in Boots” or “Iron Man 2” play in park venues all over the city from June 11th to October 24th. Bring a picnic basket and a blanket and have a nice enjoyable relaxing evening watching a movie in one of Chicago’s 125 parks.
Click here to find a list of dates and times that fit your trip into Chicago.
“New” releases this summer that will be available:
- The Dark Knight (shot in Chicago) – June 23 at Churchill Field, 1825 N Damen
- Grown Ups – July 1 at LaFollette, 1333 N. Laramie Ave
- Inception – July 1 at Margate Park, 4921 N. Marine Dr.
- Iron Man 2 – June 20 at Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
- Salt – July 19 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
- The Social Network – July 5 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
- True Grit – July 28 at Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
- Twilight: Eclipse – July 22 at Meyering Park, 7140 S. Martin Luther King Dr.
Animation for the Kids:
- Despicable Me – June 17 at Winnemac 5100 N. Leavitt St
- How to Train Your Dragon – Aug 9 at Touhy Park, 7348 N. Paulina St.
- Megamind – June 23 at Graver Park, 1518 W. 102nd Pl.
- Shrek Forever After – June 17 at Shedd Park, 3660 W. 23rd St.
- Tangled – Sep. 9 at Athletic Field Park, 3546 W. Addison St.
- The Princess and the Frog – Aug. 9 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
- Toy Story 3 – Sep 16 at Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave.
- Up – Aug. 2 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
- Wall-E – Aug.31 at Willye White Park, 1610 W Howard St.
- Airplane! – June 14 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
- Back to the Future with Michael J Fox – Aug. 6 at Harold Washington Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – July 12 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – July 13 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – July 16 at Jonquil Park, 1023 W. Wrightwood Ave.
- JAWS – July 12 at 63rd Street Beach, 6300 S lake Shore Drive
- The Karate Kid – Aug 30 at DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Pl.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark – Aug. 25 at Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Dr.
- Sixteen Candles – Aug. 17 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
- Top Gun – Aug. 18 at Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St.
It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit us, if you have a clear day, you need to take the time and visit the Willis (formerly “Sears”) tower Skydeck. On a clear day you can see Indiana, Michigan, Illinois (of course) and Wisconsin. Sitting 108 stories in the air, at the time it was completed it was the tallest building in the world.
The Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor and has 360 degree views of the city. In 2009 they added “The Ledge” which is a retractable glass box. You can stand out over the edge of the building in these glass boxes looking south and west. It is a bit of a rush with your head saying you should be falling and your feet staying right where they are.
Prices are reasonable for standard admission
- Adults 12 and up is $17.50
- Children 3 – 11 is $11
- The Hampton Inn & Suites also offers a Skydeck Package for an all inclusive option!
If you are here from Labor Day to Memorial Day, go when the sun is starting to set. If you are here during the summer months, go and watch the fireworks. It is a spectacular site.
Another tip: if you are looking for a romantic date night, try going to the Skydeck then hitting the Metropolitan Club on the 67th floor. The only catch is that you have to make your reservations through opentable.com. Either way it’s a good time.
The former Sears Tower, also known as Willis Tower
The frozen winter is now upon us. Well… kind of. It’s been an incredible holiday season, but the weather has finally started to drop down into the winter weather we are used to feeling. Everyone always feels that they have to stay away from Chicago during our sub-zero degree-a-thon days because there isn’t anything to do. ABSOLUTLEY WRONG! There are a ton of fun things to do during the winter up here in Chicago.
People from around the country come and visit our world renown museums during the peak of the summer, but why would you come here during the summer to spend the whole day inside? We have six world class museums that will entertain the kids and keep the parents learning: Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Science and Industry Museum and the Museum of ContemporaryArt.
Field Museum is my favorite and it is one of our largest and most historic museums. It sits overlooking on Lake Michigan overlooking our city. Check out their discount-days portion of the website and plan your visit to Chicago.
From the Field Museum’s website:
“The Field Museum was incorporated in the State of Illinois on September 16, 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago with its purpose the “accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrating art, archaeology, science and history.” In 1905, the Museum’s name was changed to Field Museum of Natural History to honor the Museum’s first major benefactor, Marshall Field, and to better reflect its focus on the natural sciences. In 1921 the Museum moved from its original location in Jackson Park to its present site on Chicago Park District property near downtown where it is part of a lakefront Museum Campus that includes the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. These three institutions are regarded as among the finest of their kind in the world and together attract more visits annually than any comparable site in Chicago.”
And don’t forget to check out the world famous “Sue” the Tyrannosaurs Rex while you are there too…
Going back almost a 150 years Chicago has been known for the meat packing trade. The Union Stock Yards on the south side was the largest processer of meat for almost 80 years. There isn’t much left of the stock yards now except the original gate…
All of those stock yards laid the foundation for Chicago to have some fantastic steakhouses… And after being in Chicago for 12 years, I have had the opportunity to visit all of the best ones. The most recent one I went to was Mastro’s Steakhouse. The overall experience we had was truly one of a kind, with food that is over the top and service that is second to none. With being in the service industry, you really have to impress me for me to say that the service was that good.
I made the reservations a week out and came in about a half an hour early to sit in the bar. We ordered some cocktails and received a nice heavy handed poured drink. They had someone on the piano and a singer serenading the crowd. They were just loud enough to enjoy, but not so loud that we couldn’t hear each other speak. Our table was ready right on time. The menu has items like Alaskan King Crab Black Truffle Gnocchi and Gorgonzola Mac & Cheese to complement their wide array of perfectly cooked steaks. A few days later, I even got a follow up phone call to ask how my experience was! The entire experience was absolutely perfect. If you get a chance, go visit them. It will cost a few bucks, but if you are going to splurge, this is the place.
It’s that time a year again when folks are lining up outside Soldier Field at 5am firing up their grills, setting up their tents and getting ready for the big game. If you are coming in town during gone of these fantastic weekends and don’t have tickets, do not worry! You can always (almost always depending on the season) get ticket from one of the local ticket brokers. I use AAA tickets, they seem to have the best deals and most tickets available (800-300-4849). But if we have a wind chill of ten below outside and you don’t want to brave our Chicago weather, there are a ton of places to go and watch the game. Right around our hotel to name two of my favorites are Rockit http://www.rockitbarandgrill.com and English http://englishchicago.com. Both have a fantastic selection of food, but more importantly a great assortment of TV’s to watch and root for da Bears!
English’s looks a little bit like a 21st century pub cut from the cloth of a London watering hole. Some of design elements include custom ironwork, tufted booth seating, Victorian wallpaper, handcrafted chandeliers and a collection of large vintage photographs. You will find all of you English favorites like fish and chips with a few foodie favorites like white truffle lobster mac & cheese.
Rockit Bar & Grill has a TV in pretty much every corner you look. Trust me; you won’t miss any game you are looking for here. When you go, you must try two things from the menu: Burger & Rockit Cheese Fries. The burger was named best in the nation by “Good Morning America” and the fries are the best that I have every tried. They have melted brie cheese and shitake mushrooms. Soooooo good….
Either one of these restaurants will do the trick.
Bear Down Chicago Bears!