After a maddening 2020 with so many travel plans canceled, you’re likely looking forward to racking up some frequent flyer points in 2021. You may already have a few destinations picked out, but the great city of Chicago is one worth adding to your list.
If you’ve never been to Chicago, you might be imagining New York’s windier cousin with a penchant for deep-dish pizza. But there’s so much more to Chicago’s culture than that, with lots to see and do, you’d be missing out on some of the best cultural experiences America has to offer if you skipped Chi-Town.
So let's highlight 5 reasons why Chicago should be in your itinerary for 2021.
There’s so much food to try
Chicago has a very ethnically and culturally diverse population, and every culture brings their own flavorful cuisine to the table. At the French Market underneath downtown Ogilvie Transportation Center, the city’s main Metra lines hub, you’ll find dozens of restaurant vendors selling everything from sushi to shish kabobs, as well as tons of French baked treats.
Chicago is also known for deep dish pizza, which is a very different experience from New York’s thin crust slices. Chicago deep dish pizza is like a bread bowl of hot, soupy cheese and sauce, and the locals prefer it on cold winter nights.
However, Chicagoans admit deep dish is mostly a visitor thing. Many Chicago residents actually prefer traditional southside Chicago brick-oven pizza, served in local taverns.
Nature is right outside
Chicago carries the motto “urbs in horto”, meaning “city in a garden”. The city’s approach to gardening and landscaping has given it over 8,000 acres of beautiful parks to explore, and the green grassy fields are the perfect spots for a midday picnic.
There are over 570 parks in Chicago, with the most famous being Millennium Park, the Lincoln Park cultural center, and Grant Park. Millennium Park in particular hosts many events such as the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, and is a short walking distance from the Art Institute of Chicago.
Chicago has awesome events
Chicago prides itself on being a major center of music in midwestern America, and has given birth to many famous musicians over the decades. From blues to rock, jazz to hip-hop, Chicago has seen its respectful share of A-list celebrities come and go.
With so many music venues to choose from, Chicago offers incredibly talented performers, and the summer music festivals are especially worth attending.
But music isn’t the only experience Chicago offers, and if you check out some of Chicago’s popular event calendars, you’re sure to find a fun local festival happening any time of year.
The history is fascinating
From being founded as a town in the 1800s, to the rise of bootleg mobsters in the 1920s, to its large role in civil rights movements during the 1960s, Chicago has been a culturally significant city for generations.
Fans of history lessons will find no shortage of guided tours in Chicago, taking you through the city’s storied past and contributions to American culture. Art lovers too will surely enjoy the Art Institute of Chicago, which hosts thousands of exhibits spanning thousands of years, from Byzantine era artifacts to impressionist van Gogh paintings.
It’s the brewing capital of the US
It turns out Chicago residents really love their craft beer, as the city has become the microbrewery capital of the US in recent years. With around 167 local breweries and countless hobby brewists, there’s no shortage of Chicago craft on tap.
If cocktails are more your thing, Chicago also has a buzzing, vibrant nightlife, with many upscale cocktail lounges and VIP rooms to occupy.