Chicago: Six reasons to visit

By Maureen Mclafferty, British Airways’ Chicago airport manager.

Photography by Getty.

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August 2017

The Windy City is often overshadowed by its coastal counterparts, but with steely skyscrapers, culturally diverse neighbourhoods and the great outdoors nearby, it’s time to take another look at America’s second city. British Airways’ Chicago airport manager Maureen Mclafferty shares her local lowdown.

The Italian job

About 30 minutes west of downtown Chicago you’ll find Il Poveretto Café. The Melrose Park neighbourhood is known for Italian restaurants and this is a favourite. The owner, Frankie, treats everyone like family. The Italian village salad is the perfect starter, but save space for spumoni cheesecake.

  • Starved Rock State Park makes for a perfect day trip from Chicago © Getty.

    Wild times

    The Starved Rock State Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with 20km of hiking trails and the Illinois River offering fishing and boating – remember to always have your camera poised for the extraordinary views.

    Plan your trip to Chicago
  •  The Chicago Theatre is seven storeys high and was built in the French Baroque style © Getty.

    Did you know…?

    The Chicago Theatre was the first lavish movie theatre in America. It first opened its doors in 1921 – a 50-piece orchestra performed in the pit, Jesse Crawford played the Wurlitzer pipe organ and a staff of 125 ushers welcomed guests.

    Find flights to Chicago
  • Learn about the Windy City on a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.

    All aboard

    The ever-popular Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is a must-do for any first-timers to the city – knowledgeable guides regale you with stories of the city's buildings as you pootle along. The tour is included in the Chicago Explorer Pass.

    Chicago Explorer Pass

Little India

Strolling down Devon Avenue, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in India. Most come to dine, as there are plenty of superb Indian restaurants, including Annapurna, but don’t miss popping into the many sari shops - the colours are breathtaking.

Book onto the hop-on hop-off tour bus

The backstage wall of the historic Chicago Theatre is filled with autographs from showbusiness stars, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Dolly Parton

Outdoor pursuits

Make your way out of the city and head for the hills of LaSalle County, a rural wonderland around 70 miles southeast of Chicago. There are plenty of hiking trails, many with campsites and cabins if you feel like staying. Go fishing in Starved Rock State Park and admire the canyons, and the waterfalls that flow towards the Illinois River.

  • The South Branch of the mighty Chicago River has a rich industrial past © Getty.

    Go with the flow

     In 1900, in order to help sanitation issues in Lake Michigan, engineers achieved what was considered impossible: they reversed the direction of the Chicago River, using a series of canal locks, so the river flowed away from the lake.

    Book a Chicago hotel

Tread the boards

Take a tour of the historic Chicago Theatre. Opened in 1921, it’s one of Chicago’s most iconic buildings, and the backstage wall is filled with autographs from showbusiness stars, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Dolly Parton.

Book onto an Inside Chicago tour

Retail therapy

Head downtown on the Metra Train to Geneva, Illinois. It’s about an hour from Chicago’s Union Station, and drops you off in the heart of the shopping haven. A personal favourite is The Little Traveler, a boutique that sells curious items from all over the world.

Sail away

No trip to Chicago is complete without hopping on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. It’s amazing - you’ll learn why the city’s buildings are built the way they are and why the river flows backwards, plus you’ll get the lowdown on the newest skyscrapers. You can’t miss the Hancock Building. Chicago’s 100-storey skyscraper isn’t the city’s newest, but it’s still iconic. You can book 360 Chicago to make its acquaintance.

Plan your Chicago holiday

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