My Four Favorite Things: Sweet Home Chicago

In honor of Valentine’s Day I painstakingly narrowed down four of my favorite reasons to love Chicago.

Cultural Capital
The breathtaking Tiffany Dome at the Chicago Cultural center is one of my favorite hidden gems in the city.
I love popping in to admire the world’s largest Tiffany dome anytime I’m strolling downtown, and the gorgeous marble grand staircase inlaid with authors’ name is blissful to a bibliophile like me.  There’s no shortage of museums, exhibitions, and events in Chicago to keep culture vultures occupied year-round.

Outdoor Amenities
The “26 miles of magic” of Chicago’s Lakefront is a unique and compelling city feature.  Active cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers share the trail with beach bums.  Whether sunning in the sand with an illicit beverage or taking in the skyline during a run, the Lakefront is a distinctive Chicago feature I regularly take advantage of.  The number of parks and green spaces in one of the country’s largest cities are filled with festivals, movies, and outdoor fun in the months Chicagoans indulge in the sun.

Music Mecca
Live blues seven nights a week, two stages, and late night hours – yes Kingston Mines is one of my regular Chicago stops.  Whether it’s a house regular like Joanna Connors, up-and-coming artists earning their chops, or legends dropping in for a surprise set, music and merrymaking at the Mines is a favorite pastime.  The range of venues in Chicago allow you to get up-close to indie acts at the Empty Bottle, rock out in classic fashion at the Riviera, or lounge on the lawn at Pritzker Pavilion.  I don’t know whether there is anything better than festival weekends at Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.  As one who spends a lot of my time and salary on show-going, it’s great that obscure or arena-status acts all stop by the Windy City.

BYOB Dining
There are more amazing restaurants to try in Chi than days in the year or dollars in my paycheck.  It’s great to splurge sometimes, but for everyday dining out Chicagoans savor the BYOB.  Interesting city liquor laws allow restaurateurs to obtain a BYOB license, which enables guests to booze on the cheap by bringing their own libations.  Over 300 restaurants in Chicago are BYOB, ranging from boutique fine cuisine to delicious dives.  My favorite Chicago BYOB is Chef Rick Spiros’ new venture The Bento Box.  Asian fusion at its finest, the rotating menu features mouth-watering favorites including the spicy beef bulgogi, Jidori chicken, Duroc  pork belly with sweet potato chili, and Thai meatballs with lime leaf curry.

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