Why go to Chicago? There are so many reasons why you should visit this beautiful city, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan in Eastern America. Also known as the Windy City and the Second City, visitors rave about Chicago's stunning architecture, atmospheric jazz bars, award-winning theatre shows, amazing shopping and of course the delicious deep-pan pizzas! The best time to visit is either during the summer or autumn months when temperatures are pleasantly warm.
Chicago is also home to Oprah Winfrey's chat show and the popular medical drama ER is filmed here as well. Famous Chicagoans include The X-Files actress Gillian Anderson, Raquel Welch and Harrison Ford. And before moving to the White House with his family, Barack Obama spent twenty years living in Chicago.
WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE? One of the best ways to see the stunning skyline of the city is to hop on Chicago's First Lady for a two-hour river cruise. You can sip on Chardonnay or hot chocolate with Schnapps (if the weather is cooler) while your entertaining tour guide regales you with historical tales of the city. We discovered that Chicago is home to the world's first skyscraper (built in 1885) and the striking Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world for a period of 30 years. You can also explore the Windy City via bus, bike or on a Segway (architecture.org/tours).
It's definitely worth visiting the Art Institute of Chicago – one of the world's most renowned art museums with collections from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. This is where they house Grant Wood's original American Gothic masterpiece. Once you have satisfied your visual senses, whet your appetite at the trendy Terzo Piano restaurant, which has amazing views overlooking the Millennium Park (artinstituteofchicago.org).
A short cab ride away is the Field Museum, showcasing over 24 million artefacts, including the world's largest and most complete T-Rex dinosaur.
When it comes to nightlife, Chi-town has plenty of options. For rib-tickling live comedy, book tickets at The Second City, one of the city's most popular theatre houses. This is the birthplace of improv and sketch comedy and launched the careers of Mike Myers, John Belushi and Bill Murray. While you laugh the night away you can order a pitcher of soda and a large slice of pizza for the bargain price of $16 (secondcity.com).
Soak up Chicago's music scene and get your groove on at one of the city's jazz haunts. For some of the finest blues at lunchtime or after dark, head to Buddy Guy's Legends, where they serve up tasty Cajun soul food. You may even catch the legend himself propped up at the bar! The Blue Chicago is an authentic blues club, while the dimly-lit Rosa's Lounge was voted the Best Chicago Blues Club by The New York Times. Those keen to buy Jazz vinyl should go to the jazz record mart – the world's largest jazz and blues shop – which sells everything from new and used LPs to T-shirts (jazzrecordmart.com).
If you like to hang out with the trendy and beautiful, you'll love the Rooftop Lounge at Market, a bar popular with celebrities and Chicago's glitterati. It has spectacular rooftop views of the skyline and a cocktail list that's to die for.
Where is the best place to stay? OK! Middle East highly recommends the Park Hyatt Chicago on Water Tower Square – it's not just a luxurious five-star hotel, it's conveniently located in the heart of the city, soaring 67 storeys above Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile. Outside the hotel you can hear the clip clop of horse-drawn carriages and the vibrant buzz of the city's finest shops, bars, cultural institutions and restaurants. U2 always stay at this deluxe hotel when they are in town – apparently Bono loves the personalised service. Expect the friendly staff to remember your name when you walk through the reception.
The hotel rooms have breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, and after a long day of shopping there's nothing better than soaking in your oversized bathtub while you enjoy the magnificent views out of your hotel window.
On the seventh floor of the hotel you'll find NoMI restaurant, a gastronomic delight serving some of the most exquisite cuisine in the city. Wine lovers will be in for a treat as the restaurant showcases 3,000 of its 15,000 bottle award-winning collection in the cellar. NoMI Garden, with lush landscaping is also popular with the jet-setting crowd.
Whether you fancy browsing the boutiques along the Magnificent Mile, feeling the cool breeze on a river cruise, dancing the night away in a jazz club or polishing off a deep-dish pizza, Chicago has it all!
BOOK A hotel room at the PARK HYATT
parkhyattchicago.com or call +1 312 239 4122
SHOP TILL YOU DROP!
*Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's (on Michigan Avenue, aka the Magnificent Mile) have all your favourite designers under one roof.
*Ikram is a Gold Coast boutique that houses cutting-edge designers like Alexander McQueen.
For great vintage stores head to Wicker Park.
How do I get there?
OK! Middle East recommends flying with Etihad Airways.
Call 8002277 or visit etihadairways.com
Etihad Airways is the only airline in the UAE offering direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Chicago. There are currently three flights per week, but this will increase to six flights per week from 31 October.
Business Class guests will receive a door-to-door luxury limousine service. In the Business Class lounge in Abu Dhabi besides an impressive choice of five-star dishes there's also a mini Six Senses spa where you can enjoy a complimentary 15-minute foot, head or back massage.
On board, expect world-class food, exceptional service, a flat bed and a wide choice of movies and music to keep you entertained. During your outbound flight OK! Middle East suggests you watch Chicago, starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones.
Source: OK Magazine