Chicago Calling

Chicago is a town known for its weather (typically windy), pizza and Broadway shows. But visiting such a huge city can be really daunting. So, when you visit Chicago, what is really worth visiting and what is not? And is the pizza really that great?

I am lucky to have a father that lives just on the outskirts of the city, so for the majority of my life, the city has been like a second home to me. Over the years, I have ‘been there done that’ with all the tourist sights and places in Chicago, and now whenever I visit, I do try to avoid them, but there are certain places that I just can’t give a miss!

Navy Pier is always top on the list of places to go, but be prepared to pay $4 for a bottle of water. A trip on the Ferris Wheel to see a view of Chicago is not only fun (for the entire family), but the view you are greeted to when your reach the top is really something else. To the left you see city skyline that makes you feel like you have stepped out of Sim City, and to the right, it is an outlook onto a lake that is almost the size of the UK and sparkles like a drag queen’s face.

I am lover of all museums and will visit them over and over again in any country and every country I visit. Chicago definitely isn’t lacking in museums: from Art, Science, and History, to the Planetarium. Every time I go downtown, I try and find new inspiration in Millennium Park, the park that caters to almost everyone’s needs. It’s a perfect place to take a sketchbook or a packed lunch. With art at every corner, the park is a beautiful sight.

The summers can be very hot, so with half a skyscraper that is made of clear bricks with a large TV screen behind may seem random, but when a smiling face appears and squirts water from its mouth, the randomness is refreshingly amazing and is an unforgettable experience. Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without taking a walk to British artist Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate,’ or as you may know it as The Bean. The Bean has been seen all over the world in other artistic forms like Kanye West’s Homecoming music video. The ‘Cloud Gate’ has clearly inspired not only me, but many other creatives from around the world. ‘Cloud Gate’ or The Bean is a magical piece of art that doesn’t just capture the beauty of the city, but reflects your own happiness.

Now, shopping is always good in other countries because you come home with a garment that you know no one else will have, but I feel most of the stores are very similar to ones in England. So, although this is not always on the top of my list, I am a lover of fashion, in particular cheap fashion, so how could I not? And with this, I am just going to say two words: Hot Topic.

Getting a drink downtown may seem like a good idea, but if you are under 21 – like myself – the price tag and places just seem too much. And pizza, well in the city, there is no question that you can get good pizza, but in my personal view, leave it to the Italians. This is where Damen comes into picture. Damen is a small place in Bucktown, which is just on the outskirts of Chicago. As soon as you enter this kooky town, the number of tourists dramatically drops, and so does the number of unfashionable people. I would call Damen the Shoreditch or Camden of Chicago. If you are on the lookout for a place for street style photography and street art, the possibilities are endless, not to mention the amount of nice shops that can’t be found in downtown. The restaurants and bars are countless, and all have their very own unique ethos and style to them.

I could go on for hours and list specific places to visit, but for me, that’s too restrictive. Chicago as a whole is a place I say everyone has to visit before they die. By all means, take inspiration from my words, but go find your own source of inspiration from the street and the energy that is within the town, and don’t forget your camera or sketch book.

Article written for SANT Magazine.