Living in the suburbs of Chicago my entire life has granted me many days trips to my absolute favorite city. With that being said, I have done so much in and around the city. It’s impossible to discover the entire city of Chicago in one week, let alone a day, but here are my top five must-sees for the perfect day in Chicago.
Start the Day at Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea and Stan’s Donuts in Wicker Park
Chicago is made up of a lot of little “villages.” Wicker Park happens to be one of my favorites. Head down to Milwaukee Avenue and enjoy a nice shot of espresso or iced coffee [or both] from Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea. They offer a wide variety of cold brews, espresso and matcha, as well as some sweet treats. Their nitro cold brew is ~amazing~ and Fairgrounds is definitely one of my favorite shops I’ve found. Once you have had your caffeine fix, walk around the corner to Stan’s Donuts and Coffee for a freshly baked donut [or two]. The owner of Stan’s is originally from California, but in 2014 he and Rich Labriola, owner of Chicago’s famous Labriola baking company, opened Stan’s Donuts and Coffee in the heart of downtown Chicago. They now have a plethora of shops in and around the city of Chicago and are always bustling with business [see the line that snakes out the door for proof]. Stan’s even has one or two vegan donut options [depending on the day] so they already receive an A+ in my book [education major pun intended]. While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to head down the street to take a photo with the iconic “Greetings from Chicago” sign.
Check out a Museum at Chicago’s Museum Campus
One of the things that Chicago is known for are its museums. Boasting over 70 museums, there is certainly an exhibit for every kind of tourist. My personal favorite is the Art Institute. This museum is not situated on the museum campus, but just a few blocks away on Michigan Avenue. The Art Institute always has new art and exhibits for any art taste. From sculptures, the miniature room, modern art, textiles, ancient art and more, it’s easy to lose track of time and spend all day here. My tip for visiting museums on a time crunch: do some research the night before and make a list of what you want to see in the time you have so you aren’t running from one end of a museum to the next because you forgot to see the iconic Georgia O’Keefe painting, Sky Above Clouds IV [yes, I may or may not have done that].
Head over to The Chicago Diner for Lunch
Walking through museums can be exhausting and the last thing you want to do is spend an obscene amount of money on museum food. One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago [due to it being 100% vegetarian and having the ability to make every item on their menu vegan] is The Chicago Diner. A quaint restaurant in Boystown features the best milkshakes this city has to offer as well as breakfast all day long — what could be better? There isn’t one thing on the menu I would recommend more than another because every single item I have ever tried there is phenomenal. You might even score free parking [a rarity in Chicago] if you get there when there isn’t a traffic rush happening!
Walk Around Lincoln Park and Enjoy the Best Cupcakes Ever Made
Just a quick drive or ‘L’ [the Chicago version of the Subway] ride away from The Chicago Diner is Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is one of my favorite Chicago “villages” for so many reasons. From the lake view to the conservatory to walking the breathtaking DePaul campus [where I almost went to school, actually] there’s always a sight to see. Also, if you have room in your stomach after feasting at The Chicago Diner, sinking your teeth into some cupcakes from Swirlz Cupcake Shop is a must. Located just down the street from DePaul University, Swirlz offers cupcakes for people with most allergies [nut free, dairy free and gluten free]. Swirlz has 18 different vegan and gluten-free cupcakes that they rotate throughout the week as well as regular cupcakes as well. Check their website or give them a call to see if they have the cupcake you want today!
End the Day with a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
Not everyone is a sports fan, I get that. However, in my opinion, a trip to Chicago is not complete without a baseball game at Wrigley Field. With its iconic ivy, tons of [overpriced] food options and almost every seat filled, Wrigley Field is exactly what a baseball park should be. Enjoy a hotdog [Chicago style of course] and a Malt cup [or a pretzel and cotton candy if you’re like me] and enjoy a great night of friends, food and America’s favorite pastime.