Joseph’s Chicago

Hello, city-lovers! Today we head over to Chicago, where Joseph Hernandez, managing editor for Go Galavanting tells us why he loves the Windy City.

Want to see your city on IT? Copy and paste our list of fill-in-the-blank questions into an e-mail, fill in your answers, and send your responses to

Chicago is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Belmont Harbor at sunrise. I’ve known no greater bliss than when the sun just peaks over the lake, slowly casting its light on the skyscrapers. The mist from Lake Michigan lifts, runners take to the path and birds wake up. Visitors are always surprised at this softer side of Chicago.

When I crave pizza, I always go to Pequod’s Pizza. It’s not quite Chicago deep-dish, but in my opinion, it’s far better than the local chains touting the stuff.

To escape Wrigleyville and rowdy Cubs fans I head to the Music Box Theatre. Just a few blocks make all the difference. The Music Box was built in 1929 and is always showing some camp favorite or the newest art-house feature. The architecture and decor are a whimsical blast-from-the-past; it’s always a joy to sit in the deeply-giving theater seats while sharing popcorn with friends.

If I want to dance I go to Berlin. Something always happens at this Lakeview bar. The crowd is interesting and diverse, the bartenders friendly, and the music is never the same.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in the Myopic Bookstore. The smell of used books is one of the most soothing, elegant scents around, and there’s no better way to get that olfactory fix than here. This four(ish)-floored bookstore is crammed with books. Tables and couches upstairs afford customers a chance to curl up with a tome for hours.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the Bean. It’s your new Facebook photo, without a doubt.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Lula Cafe it has to be the pasta “yiayia.” So simple, you could make it at home, but why would you want to?

Sprout Home is my one-stop shop for great home decor, gifts, plants, and anything beautifully designed.

Locals know to skip Taste of Chicago and check out any of the other multitudes of street fests instead. Taste gets hot and crowded, while the smaller neighborhood fests are truly reflective of the city’s population.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to Tai Nam Food Market in Uptown. This Asian-centric grocery store has every spice you could ever need, far below the big-box store prices.

For a huge splurge I go to Apartment Number 9. I dare you to find a menswear boutique with product as impeccably curated as this one.

Photo ops in my city include the glass floor in the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the best vantage points are from the lakeshore paths in Lincoln Park.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Mary Louise Parker. An amazing actress with a diverse range of work, she’s accessible to just about any audience but still maintains an edge.

The most random thing about my city is how few of its citizens are actually from Chicago. Many grew up in the surrounding area, but I’ve met only a handful of true born-and-raised Chicagoans.

My city has the most straight-forward, inexplicably kind men.

My city has the most feisty, strong-willed and independent women.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves running alongside Lake Michigan, a walk through (always free) Lincoln Park zoo, followed by some al fresco dining in the Lakeview neighborhood.

My city’s best museum is The Shedd Aquarium. Beluga whales and otter; enough said.

My favorite walking route is through Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago. The stately mansions and overhanging trees are calming.

For a night of dancing, go to The Hideout. Or, for live music, check out Kingston Mines. Though let’s be honest: both are interchangeable.

Clarke’s in Lakeview is the spot for late-night eats. The food is filling and the clientele entertaining.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Gaper’s Block.

You can tell a lot about my city from riding the El. There’s no better way to gauge the citizens and see the city than lumbering along the elevated tracks.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they think ketchup on a hot dog is a sin.

In the spring you should take advantage of the free days at many of the museums. My favorites are the Chicago History Museumthe Museum of Science and Industry, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In the summer you should take in a free summer concert at Millennium Park, while picnicking. There are a ton of free performances, with the best often featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra accompanying some “it” band.

In the fall you should take advantage of the last months of outdoor farmers markets. There’s a certain magic to spending a Sunday lingering at the Logan Square Farmers Market as the leaves change color.

In the winter you should find another place to visit. Short of that, bundle up!

A hidden gem in my city is The Old Town School of Folk Music. As an institution, it nurtures a variety of musical traditions and anyone who has ever taken a class cannot speak more highly of it.

For a great breakfast joint try Orange. Custom juices, orange-zested coffee and weekly themed pancake flights make for the ultimate wake-up call.

Don’t miss the Pitchfork festival in the summer.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Ravinia Music Festival. You can listen to amazing live performances either in the pavilion or with loved ones on the lawn.

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

The best way to see my city is slowly and methodically. Take in each neighborhood one at a time and you won’t be sorry.

If my city were a pet it would be a border collie, loyal and playful.

If I didn’t live in my city, I’d live in San Francisco, Vancouver or New York City.

The best book about my city is Studs Terkel’s Division Street: America.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens.

Navy Pier (Sergey Zuyev/My Shot)

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Navy Pier.

Obama winning a second term could only happen in my city. That, and the Cubs winning the World Series. Both would be epic.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because Chicago is the crossroads city. New York City and Los Angeles are larger and get more press, but Chicago makes visitors feel welcome. There’s no pretense here: what you see is what you get. Real people live in real neighborhoods, while world-class attractions provide cultural interest for those who decide to take the tourist route.

[Chicago City Guide]

[Photo Gallery: Chicago]

[Feature: Green City]

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet