About once a year (more than that if I’m lucky), I end up spending some time in Chicago. It’s a six-hour drive from where I live (at least seven with traffic), but the long trip is worth it every single time, and I’ve made too many memories there to count. When I was 10 months old, a flight up to the Windy City marked the very first time I had ever been on an airplane – a pretty important milestone for an aspiring traveler, even though I don’t remember it (and I can’t help but wonder if I was *that* screaming child that annoyed everyone on said flight). In 2009, I saw Green Day in concert at the United Center, and even though they’re not really my favorite band anymore, I’ll always have great memories of that trip. I’ve been there for everything from Thanksgivings to birthdays to weddings to just going to Chicago for the sake of going to Chicago. I like to think that this is where I’ll end up someday, but life has a funny way of working out – I have no idea where I’m going to be one year from now, let alone 10, 20 or 30. All I know is that no matter where I am in the world, I’ll jump at any chance I get to visit Chicago (and maybe even make it my home).
Here are a few of the many, many reasons why I’ve fallen in love with Chi-town and why you should make it a point to visit ASAP:
Whether we like it or not, first impressions do matter, and places are no exception. One of my favorite things about Chicago is that just about no matter where you look, there’s going to be a beautiful view. From the glittering sights that surround you at Navy Pier (pictured above, July 2013) to the cozy comfort of Wrigleyville, Chicago is full of unique and gorgeous sights. It may not have the old-school charm of European cities or the warm, tropical sensation of Honolulu, but it has a special ambiance all its own.
You’ll never be bored when visiting Chicago. Sports fan? You’re on the home turf of the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, White Sox and Cubs. Want to shop ’til you drop? Michigan Avenue is calling your name. Feel like increasing your cultural quotient? Stop by the Art Institute or one of Navy Pier’s museums. There’s something to do no matter what you’re into.
And when I say “food,” I mean “pizza.” And when I say “pizza,” I mean “Giordano’s.”
Coming from the Midwest myself, it’s refreshing to have an idea of what to expect every time I come up to Chicago. Several years ago, someone in my hometown of Westerville put it this way: “Chicago is great – it’s metropolitan, it’s cosmopolitan, but the people are just like us.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Obviously there’s a certain hustle and bustle that comes with living and/or working in a big city, but at the end of the day, the people there have a very similar lifestyle to what I’m used to. It explains why I’ve always felt at home there – never overwhelmed or over my head. I’ll always love experiencing new cultures and ways of life, but it’s nice to have somewhere to go that gives me both familiarity and the chance to get away.
Every visit to Chicago is always too short. I just got back on Saturday and I’m already missing it like crazy. I think everyone needs a place like this in their lives – not necessarily Chicago (because as much as I love it, everyone is different), but somewhere that allows them the chance to escape from the mundane routine of life while offering all the comfort and familiarity of a second hometown. No matter life takes you, it’s always important to have a few special places where you know you’re always welcome.
And Chi City, I’ll see you in October.