The Public Transportation System
Sure, there are other cities with subways and Amtrak, but the efficiency of the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra are bar-none. The “L,” as the elevated train system is called, is not only convenient, but it’s also nearly always on time, and (for the most part) not littered. On top of that, the “L” travels to the northernmost and southernmost suburbs, making the morning commute a breeze. The Metra allows travelers to traverse to the outer suburbs and nearby cities, such as Milwaukee. When you leave, you will certainly miss the ease with which you got around Chicago!
Midwesterners are nice, until you mess with their sports teams. This is true tenfold in Chicago, home of the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs and the Bears that all steal the locals’ attention. The White Sox count too … but since the Cubs won the 2016 world series—their first in 108 years—there is little debate which team rules the city at the moment! You can barely walk a block of downtown Chicago without seeing someone sporting a t-shirt or hat in support of the local teams.
To be honest, this one is debatable. The Chicago summers are unquestionably beautiful, and locals take full advantage, playing volleyball on the Lake Michigan beaches or riding bikes in Millennium Park. The temperatures are mild, and the River Walk is the perfect place to grab a summertime cocktail and people watch. However, Chicago winters are notoriously brutal. Once November and December come around, many question their decision to live in the city, as the air alone literally hurts your face. That said, when it snows, the city turns into a frozen winter wonderland, complete with a Christmas market.
When it comes to the perfect mix of nature and architecture, Chicago cannot be beat. The park system is one of the best in the nation, with spots such as Maggie Daley Park and Grant Park to explore, as well as beaches all around. The city also has some of the most gorgeous architecture, from Marina City to Willis Tower … and don’t forget Navy Pier!
One of the best things to do in Chicago is explore the neighborhoods outside of downtown. All of them are diverse and fun in their own ways; Wicker Park is the hipster capitol, with awesome restaurants and thrift shops. Head to Lakeview to find that perfect hole-in-the-wall restaurant or to Uptown for a quick trip to the beach. All of these places solidify how awesome and diverse the city of Chicago truly is.
There’s Always Something New
Former Chicagoans often miss how on trend the city is. There’s always a new style or restaurant that is genre bending or culturally disruptive, and there’s never a shortage of new places to go—every restaurant-goer is a critic in their own right. Some fan favorites in recent years include the Nutella Cafe and The Upside Down pop-up, inspired by Stranger Things.
The Spontaneous Film Sets
Not only is Chicago the backdrop for some of the most iconic films, but many of them were actually filmed here! Unlike Los Angeles or New York, Chicago film sets are fairly open to visitors, as many of them are right downtown. Shows, such as Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., film regularly, so celebrity sightings aren’t rare. When you watch the shows back, it will give you a sense of home.
Chicagoans know how to eat—it’s simply a fact. There are so many delicacies that have come out of the city, many that can’t be found elsewhere. The deep dish is an overall favorite, but natives simply can’t live without Chicago-style hot dogs or even the weird concoctions, such as the Gym Shoe Sandwich. Leaving these behind when you move is completely painful.
Few cities and towns have a history as illustrious as Chicago. This city has been a big-name player in throughout America’s history, partially because it is one of the craziest towns ever to have existed. Between the gangsters and serial killers, Chicago ticks every box for a colorful and memorable history. It’s interesting to walk down the same streets and spots as these fascinating individuals.
People come to Chicago for the food, the scenery and the history—but they stay because of the people. It’s called Midwestern kindness for a reason, and you won’t find nicer people than in the Windy City. They’ll help you with directions, point you to the nearest deep dish and will strike up conversation on the train. When you move away, remember that kindness, and perhaps it will follow you on your journeys.