48 Hours in Chicago

by Louise Evans on 12 January 2012, 12:01PM 48 Hours in Chicago

The Windy City of Chicago in the state of Illinois is the perfect place to visit for shopping, fine dining, architecture, and comedy and although there is lots to keep you busy on a longer visit, is perfectly possible to 'do' in two days.

Day One...

With nine flights a day from the UK, it’s certainly not difficult to get to Chicago. This metropolitan city, the third largest in the States, is set along the western shore of Lake Michigan, though as the flight descends, it feels more like an ocean, complete with white sandy beaches lining the shore and small white boats dotted around. Towering skyscrapers (well, Chicago did invent them) line the lake, which makes for a spectacular skyline, along the 15 miles of coastline that’s just itching to be explored.

A short taxi ride downtown from O’Hare International and the gorgeous Allegro Chicago, a Kimpton Hotel, makes the perfect base for any stay. Luxuriously renovated recently, this hotel oozes glamour and style, from the lobby with its baby grand piano to the extremely comfortable rooms, which come with complimentary wi-fi, even pampered pooches are welcome here.

You must make the most of all Chicago has to offer and where better to start than Magnificent Mile for a spot of shopping? Set a few minutes cab ride from the Allegro, shopaholics will be in seventh heaven here on Michigan Avenue – surrounded by stunning architecture this tree-lined street has hundreds of shops to spend your dollars. From Macy’s to Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue to Nordstrom, you’ll find all the American classics, as well as the UK’s very own Topshop. Be sure to leave some room in your suitcase for all those extra purchases.

Grab a snack at the legendary Garrett Popcorn Shop for Chicago Mix, an addictive combo of cheese and caramel. Before the sun sets, head to The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower. This is the best place to capture the stunning views, safely from inside a glass box protruding from the 103rd floor, 1,353 feet above the bustling streets below. Vertigo sufferers beware!

After a hectic day, re-fuel at one of Chicago’s 3,300 restaurants - there’s certainly plenty of choice. From deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria on State Street, to sumptuous steak houses like Gibsons on North Rush Street, there’s something for everybody and all budgets. For a truly spectacular culinary experience, a visit to Alinea on Halsted Street is a must. With three Michelin stars, it’s ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world, and chef Grant Achatz provides an innovative and visually stunning eating experience.

Before hitting the sack, have a laugh at Second City, the home of improv, where the likes of Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert have strutted their stuff.

Day Two...

Start your day by stretching your legs out on the water of Lake Michigan with a visit to Navy Pier. Jump on the Ferris Wheel – also invented here in Chicago – for an alternative view of the city and lake.

Next, seek some culture at one of Chicago’s 40 museums. The Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere is a must-visit for science fans. Fish-lovers will adore the Shedd Aquarium, with over 32,500 animals to ogle.

Back outside, take a Sunday afternoon stroll around one of Chicago’s green spaces at Millennium Park. Check out the Cloud Gate sculpture, more commonly referred to as ‘The Bean’ as well as Prtizker Pavilion and the spectacular Crown Fountain.

No trip to Chicago would be complete without a trip to the theatre. There are over 200 to choose from, so you’re bound to find a show to take your fancy. Broadway in Chicago is a collective of several theatres known for attracting big name shows like Mary Poppins.

Night owls can end the perfect weekend in Chicago in a multitude of bars offering live music and dancing. The scene at Rockit Bar & Grill on Hubbard is buzzing. The rockcorn shrimp is delicious and the drinks menu will leave you dumbstruck. Plus the kitchen is open late all weekends.

Day Three...

Finish your stay in Chi-town with a relaxing architectural tour on Chicago’s First Lady River Cruise and learn about the history of the city and its amazing architecture. 

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