From C-Town to Chi-Town
"Go west, young man."|
Or men, in this case. Fifteen of them to be precise. After opening the 2010 Playoffs by cruising to a 2-0 series lead, the First Round now shifts to Chicago for a pair of games. Our friends in the Wine and Gold will continue their Eastern Conference battle at the United Center on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon.
With the special feeling that has been the 2009-10 season so far, we have no doubt that some of you Cavaliers faithful will make the jaunt over to the Windy City. And why not, It's practically just a hop, skip and a jump from Cleveland. MapQuest clocks the drive from Quicken Loans Arena to the United Center at 345 miles or about 5 hours and 45 minutes. Or you could just hop a flight to either Midway or O'Hare airports and be there in an hour. Did you know that O'Hare is the fourth busiest airport in the world? They serve more than 64 million travelers annually. How's that for some friendly skies?
There are a lot of places to see and things to do in between games in Chicago over the long weekend. We figured you wouldn't have time to do all the research on the hot spots and goings-on before you leave, so we did all the leg work for you. And so we present to you our Wine and Gold Guide to Chicago.
Don't worry about sending us a postcard. Just come back home with a couple wins.
Chi-Town's FinestChicago sits on the southwest shores of Lake Michigan, near the Illinois/Indiana state line. It is the third most populous city in the United States, with approximately 2.8 million people living within the city limits. The "Chicagoland" area is the 26th largest metropolitan area in the world with 9.7 million residents. Chicago has long been a major hub of industry and infrastructure, as well as ranking as one of the world's top 10 Global Financial Centers.
There are 29 public beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, and most of the city's high-rise commercial and residential buildings are within just a few blocks of the lake. One-third of the city's population actually resides in lakefront neighborhoods. Lake Shore Drive runs along the coast, and on it you will find several large parks, including Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park.
The Chicago River divides the city into three main sections: the North, West and South Sides. Overall there are 215 distinct neighborhoods in the city. "The Loop" is the center of cultural, commercial and financial institutions, and is also where you can find Grant Park. The North Side is the most densely populated residential section, and houses Lincoln Park.
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On Top of the WorldIf you're afraid of heights, then perhaps these local Chicago attractions are not for you. But they are an awesome way to see the city.
Chicago is home to the US's tallest building, the Willis Tower, formerly and more commonly known as the Sears Tower. The building stands at 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall. It was officially renamed Willis, after the London-based insurance broker, on July 16th, 2009. When traveling to Chicago, any tourist must make a stop at the Skydeck Chicago. It is on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower and provides a birds-eye view of the city. Also new to Willis is The Ledge, a new glass box that extends 4.3 feet out from the Skydeck. If 103 flights is too high for you, maybe 94 would be better. The John Hancock Observatory Deck features an open-air skywalk 94 stories up. There's no glass protecting you, but instead a high-strength stainless steel screen.
Another must-see is the historic Navy Pier, 50 acres of parks, promenades, entertainment, attractions, restaurants and shops on the lakefront just east of downtown. It is billed as the "number one tourist destination in the Midwest." It's most well-known feature is the 150-foot Ferris wheel, but also contains such treasures as the Chicago Children's Museum and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.
Shopping is another popular Chicago pastime. And if you're shopping in Chi-town, there's one place you have to go. The Magnificent Mile. With a name like that, it's got to be good, right? The Mile is an eight-block stretch of Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Oak Street that houses close to 500 stores. You will find everything from high-end department stores like Bloomingdales, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, to everyday brands like Crate & Barrel and Apple, to places you normally only see in catalogues, like Tiffany & Co. The Magnificent Mile is the heart of Chicago's retail and entertainment district, and also features a plethora of hotels and restaurants.
With the weather expected to be nice on Wednesday and Thursday in the Windy City before raining the rest of the weekend, we suggest taking in the nationally-renowned Lincoln Park Zoo. It is on the North side of town, on Lake Shore Drive and Fullerton Parkway, and is one of the US's last remaining admission-free zoos. You'll be able to enjoy daily activities like Feed the Cows, Meet an Animal, Eight-legged Architects and Seal Feeding. The Zoo is home to everything from flamingos and antelopes to bears and lions (and tigers, oh my).
Something for EveryoneIf this will be your first visit to Chicago, then the best way to explore the city is a City Segway Tour, so we've heard. Yes, you read that correctly. Segways. This is the first guided tour using Segways - the self-balancing, personal transportation devise designed to operate in pedestrian environments - in the world. The three-hour tour (don't worry, you won't get shipwrecked on an island) takes you through the parks and lakefront of the city and provides detailed information, stories and photo ops along the way.
What could be better than a Pajama Jam Brunch? Nothing, in our opinion. The every-weekend feature at Bull & Bear on Wells Street invites customers to wear their pjs, watch Saturday morning cartoons and 80's movies and dine on brunch. Stop by anytime 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday. Again, what could be better?
The 25th Annual Latino Film Festival is running from now until April 28th at the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema. It is the oldest and most comprehensive Latino film fest in the US and will showcase more than 100 films.
Architecture more your thing? Then you will want to make a stop at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio for one of their daily tours. The location in suburban Oak Park served the dual role of home and workplace for America's best-known architect from 1889-1909.
Finally, curiosity alone makes us want to check out this next one. Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play. This alcohol-themed comedy and interactive drinking game runs every Friday and Saturday night at Fizz Bar & Grill on Lincoln Avenue.
A Slice of HeavenWhen it comes to eating, Chicago is known for one thing: pizza! Specifically, DEEP dish pizza. This infamous type of pie is typically two inches thick and comes in a heavy black pan. You are actually encouraged to use a fork and knife when you chow down. There are a handful of super top-notch places you absolutely have to try. We recommend Pizzerio Uno, Gino's East and Giordano's. Trust us, you'll be glad you did.
Aside from pizza, only slightly less known is Chicago's love of hot dogs. In fact, there are literally hundreds of stands throughout the city. Here's a little known fact and word of advice for you: native Chicagoans don't get ketchup on theirs. So perhaps you can alternate between 'za and dogs. Here are a few quality places to check out: Superdawg, Hot Doug's and Gold Coast Dip.
Ok fine, perhaps pizza and hot dogs aren't at the top of everyone's food pyramid. There are other choices in the city.
One of our faves is Harry Caray's, the Italian steakhouse named after the late baseball Hall of Fame announcer. Aside from the stellar cuisine, it is also a pseudo museum of baseball history. The restaurant on W. Kinzie Street has been named the "best steakhouse in Chicago" by the Chicago Tribune.
If you're looking for something a little more off the beaten path, try Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba. Admittedly, we were first drawn to the Spanish restaurant because of the name, but then we realized how good the food was. The location on W. Halsted features tapas and paella, as well as sangria. The Cafe also just added a new gluten-free menu.