sarah is a chicago native and still feels warm and fuzzy about the midwestern city. here are her picks:
1. dining al fresco. as soon as we can eat outside, we chicagoans flock. want to feel like you're in ibiza? head to the dock at montrose beach and dip your toes in the water as the music wafts over. the village tap, happy village, phyllis' musical inn (i'll take you on in a game of horse on the side patio), and rockwell's are also among my faves.
2. street fairs. wow – i don't even know where to begin here. every weekend between two and four street fairs vie for attendees. it’s always fun to walk the booths, beer in hand, checking out the local art, food, clothes, and more. these fairs are also where i learn about a lot of bands: the j. davis trio and the giving tree are among my favorite discoveries. if the timing works, the ravenswood remix, the lakeview art fest, and west fest are both in the "can't miss" category.
3. outdoor concerts. of course there's lalapalooza, but literally every weekend there are music fests in chicago. there's one for every genre and every neighborhood, from blues fest to pitchfork, from ravinia to the 312 block party. thursday nights are priceless: i plop the family down for a picnic and some dancing at the wells park gazebo. also check the schedule at northerly island (i've seen the avett bros and sublime there so far). a huge stage, a beach, and a striking skyline make for quite a party.
4. kayak the chicago river. rent a kayak and put in at north avenue and the river, then glide down south, past goose island, in between the skyscrapers, and under the bridges. awe inspiring for sure, just look out for tour boats and don’t swallow the water! chicago is an industrial town.
5. critical mass (or kidical mass). join an amazing urban ride the last friday of every month. meet at daley plaza at 5:30pm and head out into the streets with hundreds of other bikes: big ones, small ones, double bikes, unicycles, and bikes with tunes. you’ll be saying “happy friday!” in no time. or take the kiddos out on a mini version the second saturday morning of every month starting in palmer square at 10:30am.
6. garden walks. are you a voyeur? did you ever wonder what it's like behind the walls at all those nice houses in lincoln park? garden walks are a phenomenal way to get a peek at some lovely homes and gardens, and to get some inspiration for how to spruce up your little plot of green. the sheffield and graceland west walks are two winners in this space.