LONG AFTER Frank Sinatra sang the praises of Chicago in his 1960s hit, My Kind of Town, the home of the skyscraper continues to charm visitors with its vibrant arts and design scene, live jazz and blues, top shopping and a plethora of tranquil public parks and waterfront walks. As the third biggest city in the US, it is also a major business hub in particular for the finance, technology, telecoms and railroad freight industries.
Two new hotel brands have marked their debuts in Chicago this year. Richard Branson brought North Wabash Avenue to a standstill at the official opening of the very first (and very cool) Virgin Hotel (virginhotels.com) in April. In addition, the Hyatt hotels group has launched its first Hyatt Centric property (theloopchicago.centric.hyatt.com), also in the Loop, a ‘lifestyle brand for modern explorers’.
Those keen to sample one of the city’s many steakhouses should consider David Burke’s Primehouse (davidburkesprimehouse.com), with its modern interpretation of classic dishes and a good wine list too. One of the most prestigious restaurants in the city, if not the country, is Alinea (alinearestaurant.com). With its three Michelin-stars rating you’ll need a generous expenses account and a major client to justify the splurge. A more casual option is Avec (avecrestaurant.com), serving Mediterranean cuisine at communal tables
There are live music venues aplenty in Chicago, but the city is best known for its excellent blues scene. Buddy Guy’s (buddyguy.com) is a popular option and is located in the central Loop district. For a wide choice of bars, head north to trendy Wicker Park.
The city has a rich pedigree in the arts, design, music and architecture. To get your fix, head to Millennium Park and gaze at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate monument and Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion, before strolling over to the Art Institute of Chicago, home to the likes of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and works from Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Monet.
Chicago Transit Authority trains from Chicago O’Hare Airport cost $5 to downtown and taxis are in the region of $30-40 for the trip.
Chicago is GMT -6hrs. The currency is the US dollar: £1=US$1.51. See choosechicago.com.
British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Chicago twice a day, United flies three times a day, and American flies 15 flights a week. Virgin operates a daily service from April to October.