TravelAug/Sep 2012 Issue

Your Kind of Town

Chicago wows with attractions and top-notch allergy-friendly eats

Positioned proudly in the middle of the country, Chicago is a vibrant, welcoming city that bursts with world-class museums, ethnic neighborhoods, a stunning skyline and a system of parks that string along the city’s lakefront like a jeweled green necklace.

Indeed, all the land along the city’s lakefront is devoted to public parkland. It is one of Chicago’s biggest assets, giving the city an openness and natural beauty. An 18-mile paved running path hugs the Michigan shore, populated by joggers, power walkers and baby strollers. The stunning Millennium Park, with its iconic, highly polishepd “Bean” statue that reflects the downtown skyline, abuts the Art Institute of Chicago, where galleries are filled with notable pieces by the great masters.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 set the town ablaze but misfortune turned into good fortune, as the city was completely rebuilt. City developers were able to start anew, planning the widespread parklands and a grid system for streets that makes the city easy to navigate. Old shacks were cleared out and in their place rose Art Deco skyscrapers and, later, soaring modern office towers.

Yes, it can get cold here in winter—Chicagoans bundle up and hunker down when icy winds blow in January and February. (Fun fact: Chicago is called the Windy City due to its blustery politics, not its weather). But spring, summer and fall bring excellent weather for exploring museums, shopping on Michigan Avenue, enjoying street fests and eating in restaurants of every stripe.

Chicago is a city of immigrants and neighborhoods, resulting in a true melting pot of restaurants, with a range that runs from small ethnic spots to hip eateries helmed by celebrity chefs. Residents are friendly here—quickly chiming in with their favorite places to eat and visit. Gluten-free and allergy-free options grow by the day, with many restaurants offering gluten-free menus and happily accommodating diners on special diets. Still, when dining out in any city, always talk to a manager to assess their attention to special diets. In general, avoid busy times and always make sure you feel comfortable that the staff will give your special meal the attention it needs.

We’ve put together a suggested sightseeing and dining itinerary, focused around popular attractions. There’s a lot packed into each day. Don’t expect to do it all; feel free to pick and choose to craft a tour that works for you. For more sites and events, visit, the city of Chicago’s tourism site.

Next: Accommodations

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