weekend away - Chicago
Written by Anna Blessing
Spring is often Chicago’s shortest season. It’s also one of the most pleasant times to visit the city, with its verdant parks, clement weather, and residents happy with the long-awaited warmth.
Chicago is a city of distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own personality and culture: Mexican Pilsen, Swedish Andersonville, Indian Devon Street, and many, many more. Most are accessible by train, but starting on foot through downtown is the best way to get a grounding sense of place before diving into the city’s diverse pockets.
Michigan Avenue north of the river cuts through with a wide swathe lined in luxury shops. To the west is the River North neighbourhood, a hub of local restaurants and standout shops, like nationally known haute-couture hub Ikram with its luxe lunch café (replete with red pony-hair wallpaper) and Haberdash, several storefronts of sartorial choices for gentlemen.
Down from River North is the river itself, where water taxis, architecture-tour boats, and early-season kayakers can be seen, along with iconic architecture, which now includes Trump International Hotel & Tower. Stunning views through walls of windows are on offer from Trump’s many dining and drinking locales.
Across the river, Michigan Avenue leads into Millennium Park, home to Frank Gehry’s famous, billowing bandshell, Anish Kapoor’s shiny ‘bean’ sculpture, the Lurie Garden, and Jaume Plensa’s fountain, filled on warm days with splashing bare-footers. Ocean-like Lake Michigan is to the east, directly south sits the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, and west leads to the Loop, the city’s central business district, with public art by Calder, Picasso, Chagall, and Miró. Its name comes from elevated trains that ‘loop’ around the city in both directions. Every train line can be caught in the Loop, a jumping- off point into those dynamic city neighbourhoods, full of festivals, farmers’ markets, and local flavour, just waiting to be explored on a sunny spring day.
Michigan’s Sunset Coast
Pristine beaches, antique stores, outlet shopping, lakeside cafés, and glowing sunsets draw Chicago residents to the string of towns along the coast of Lake Michigan in the state of Michigan, about 150km out of the city. New Buffalo, St. Joseph, and Benton Harbor – to name a few – are the perfect distance for a day trip to visit local shops and eateries; pick-your-own farms and wineries are open to visitors in spring.