When I first moved here, I kept hearing Chicagoans raving about the nice city summers. Being from the South of France, I scoffed a little, thinking there is no place I would rather be in the summer than at home. While this is still true, I have to say that summers in Chicago are as lively and fun as winters are brutal.
This year, because of my move, I am staying in the city the whole month of July for the first time in years. Thankfully, there are so many things to do, that I am starting to run out of days for all the activities I planned. Here is a small sample:
- The rooftops
One of my favorite all time things in Chicago is the architecture. There are so many high-rise buildings and the skyline looks amazing. In the summer, I try to sample out as many rooftops as I can. The view is always different, but never disappointing. My old regulars are Roof at the Wit, J Parker, Cindy’s, Fountainhead and Drumbar. This year, however, I had the pleasure to discover two new ones: LH Rooftop (the three-level rooftop bar of the London House hotel), and Cerise, which is located in the Virgin Hotel. Be careful as these popular spots are usually crowded on the weekends.
- The river walk
Since I live on the North side of the city, close to the lake, I usually get my water fix by going to the lakefront. More recently, I have explored the river walk which has been developed over the past few years. It was always accessible for a casual stroll, but they have added restaurants, cafes and attractions that make the walk very enjoyable. It is very lively and always busy in the summer, between the visitors, the joggers, the people waving from their boats and everyone else out for some air. After a walk, it is always nice to stop for a few bites and a glass of rosé at City Winery, or for a cocktail at the Island Party Hut Tiki Bar. The water creates a completely different vibe from the rest of the city.
- The street fests
Chicago has a huge street fest tradition. You can find some sort of festival pretty much every weekend from June to September. While I don’t go to festivals every weekend, this year I really wanted to try the Taste of Chicago, which is the biggest food festival in town. This was my last shot to try it, so we went last Friday. We started with an outdoors concert of Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals, and grabbed a few bites from three different vendors. Overall it was a great experience, but some friends who went the next day said it was so busy they could not even get to the food, so beware of Saturdays!
- The beach
I will start this with a disclaimer: growing up next to the Mediterranean, I know what beach life is like and I am not trying to say that Chicago is a beach paradise. However, when you are working for most of the summer, the local beaches offer a decent alternative to a vacation. I usually try to go once a week to work on my tan. The beaches can get really crowded, so it is better to go in the morning. You can rent a lounge chair and an umbrella to enjoy the sun, or simply lie on the sand. Volleyball is a popular activity as well. Most beaches have restaurants and bars where you can get refreshments.