Chicago millionaire Potter Palmer built his mansion in 1882, while other wealthy residents followed him to the Gold Coast of Chicago situated along the shores of Lake Michigan. Read ahead for 10 amazing things to see and do in this affluent haven.
Located in the heart of the Gold Coast along the Magnificent Mile known for its shopping, the Old Chicago Water Tower is the second oldest water tower in the United States — it was built in 1869. Skyscrapers, such as the Hancock Building, dwarf this building, which is just over 150 Feet. It now holds a city gallery that presents the resplendent work of artists and local photographers. Located in the historic Water Tower Water Works is the Lookingglass Theatre, an ensemble-based theater in Chicago that has won 42 Joseph Jefferson Awards.
A photo posted by Jen Walter (@jennifer.walter) on
Water Tower Place
Across the street from the Chicago Water Tower, is 758,000 square feet of shopping at Water Tower Place, one of Chicago’s largest shopping malls with more than 100 stores. Water Tower Place features stores such as American Girl Place, where you can shop for your favorite doll and then treat you and your children to a special dining experience. Other stores include Macy’s, Abercrombie and Fitch and full service restaurants like Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch, a great sports bar on the top floor of the plaza.
After spending a day of shopping and dining, head to the north side of Water Tower Place for the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, originally the Drury Lane Theater in the 1970s. After a makeover in 2010, the Broadway Playhouse has hosted Love, Loss and What I Wore as well as highly acclaimed Broadway hit Colin Quinn: Long Story Shorty. Now playing is Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and upcoming shows include The 20th Anniversary World Tour of Riverdance and The Book of Mormon.
Situated in the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood but off the beaten path of Michigan Avenue’s restaurants and shops, the Newberry Library is free and open to the public. Researchers and scholars all over the world have visited these collections that include the brilliance of literature, rare books, maps, music and manuscripts that detail six centuries of material. The Newberry was established in 1887 and also provides programs for teachers, adult education seminars and a variety of events on the humanities.
Across the street from the Newberry is the serenity of Washington Square Park, founded in 1842. During the summer months, the park is worth celebrating, with a combination of trees, picket fencing, a Victorian fountain that was added in the 1890s and a beautiful array of floral design. It is a great place to take a breath and relax during your busy trip to the Gold Coast. The park is a registered as an historic landmark in Chicago.
For high-end, luxury shopping featuring Gucci, Max Mara, J.Crew and a host of others, visit the 8th tallest skyscraper in the city on Gold Coast’s Magnificent Mile. Exquisite boutiques include designers such as Kate Spade and Karen Millen. An entire day can be spent shopping, starting with a coffee and a pastry at the in-house Oak Tree Restaurant for breakfast and continuing with lunch at Frankie’s Scaloppine for a brick-oven pizza. Finally, celebrate happy hour at Frankie’s or Baisi Thai for a special price.
Not just a one-way street traveling north, Rush Street is acclaimed for its nightlife, five-star hotels and elite restaurants that include Tavern on Rush, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, and Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse. Here you can find autographed photographs of the rich and famous. If you’re in the mood for Asian food, Jellyfish has been voted as one of the 17 hottest sushi restaurants in the United States. There is so much to experience with a visit to Rush Street.
The Driehaus Museum offers collections of awe-inspiring examples of furnishing and interiors the wealthy in America had crafted during the Gilded Age. Beautifully preserved architecture and design grace the museum, from such acclaimed designers as Louis Comfort Tiffany. You can visit exhibits preserved from the early 19th century to show the elegance of front parlor, dining room and even the smoking room from that time. While stepping back in time, you can explore historic events such as the “Changing Fashion for Changing Times” exhibit featuring more than 35 costumes from the popular Downton Abbey series.
Signature Lounge at the 96th and Signature Room at the 95th
Not only does the 96th floor of the John Hancock offer wonderful views of the city, but the Signature Lounge offers a choice of more than 700 wines and specialty cocktails. It also has appetizers that include caprese bruschetta and great chicken wings. If you’re in the mood for dinner, the Signature Room at the 95th floor is known for its romantic atmosphere and has been voted one of America’s Top Tables by Gourmet Magazine. Fresh entrees include Australian rack of lamb and vegetable lasagna.
The Drake Hotel is one of the more than 250 hotels recognized by the Historic Hotels of America. The Hotel opened on New Year’s Eve in 1919 with a massive gala of more than 2,000 Chicago citizens. To this day, The Drake provides the grandeur of the early 19th century with more than 500 luxury guest rooms and 74 magnificent suites. Enjoy afternoon tea in the elaborate Palm Court and choose from 17 different tea suggestions.