Whenever I talk about how great Chicago is, I feel like Vern from the movie Stand By Me. He was the dorky kid who seemed to over-exaggerate everything and tended to “eagerly” share his thoughts.
Maybe I get over-excited because, to ME, Chicago always seems to get overlooked. People who aren’t from here only know about the shootings, the political corruption and the crappy weather in winter and yeah, that stuff is real, but there’s way more to Chicago than what you hear in the news.
Seeing it’s the height of summer, I’ve decided to share what I love most about our fair city and I’ve asked my MAJAMAS EARTH team to do the same. Check out our 5 favorite things about Chicago in our list below:
1. Chicago Riverwalk – Germaine’s Fave
To me, Chicago is all about the architecture and the best place to see it is along the Chicago River.
You can take a boat tour or walk the newly expanded Riverwalk. There you’ll see floating gardens, fine eateries and now, a smattering of retailers selling unique gifts made by Chicago artists and yup… even ME.
Shop Small, LLC owned by Tonya Gross has an eclectic assortment of goodies you don’t want to miss. Trust me… these offerings are far from your typical touristy fare most discard after getting. I’m talking sustainable, well-made gifts you won’t find anywhere else.
Check out our take on the Chicago Flag Tanks. Shop Small stocks all the colors in their kiosk.
2. Chicago Lakeshore – Russell’s Fave
It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’m sitting on a concrete ledge overlooking the waves of Lake Michigan, enjoying the beautiful sunrise. I’m mentally preparing myself to take a plunge into 67° water for a 2 mile swim. The scene is peaceful and calm and you’d never know that right behind me are skyscrapers and the beautiful skyline of Chicago.
For me, Chicago’s Lakefront is the jewel of the city. If you haven’t seen it, it’s hard to imagine just how big it is and on a rough day, it looks like an ocean. Lake Michigan has been my workout partner for what feels like a hundred years. I have run and biked thousands of miles along its beautiful shores and swum hundreds of miles in its unpredictable waters, unintentionally drinking gallons of it too. I even life-guarded countless hours on its beaches, making sure people were safe while cooling off or enjoying the water themselves.
Summer is the time to really enjoy this amazing lake, but this lakeshore is beautiful all year, even in winter. So if someone asked me what defines Chicago and makes it so special, I would say the Chicago Lakeshore.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory – Jane’s Fave
Tucked just a few blocks away from our MAJAMAS EARTH studio is a hidden house of greenery: Garfield Park Conservatory.
It’s the best way to “get away” to a tropical paradise practically for FREE! That’s right – no expensive vacay needed, just a $5 suggested donation that goes towards funding GPC events and programs.
Rain or shine, this beautiful greenhouse offers indoor and outdoor experiences for nature lovers and newbies alike.
For starters, simply walking through this wonderland of radiant plants awakens all of your senses at once as you see the vivid colors, smell the fragrant flowers, touch the terrific textures, hear the rustling of leaves and taste the fresh air.
There’s just something about immersing yourself in this environment that helps you re-center yourself after a long day, week, month or year. From any array of brilliant blooms and luscious ferns to prickly cacti and fruit trees, there’s something to satisfy every aesthetic and curiosity.
If you’re a gardener like ME, you can get unlimited inspiration for your own garden and learn more about any type of plant you’re growing from one of the many knowledgeable volunteers.
If you’re a tourist (or a tourist in your own town) you get an escape from the tall sky-scrapers, shops and city-scape to gain a different perspective of Chicago’s eco-centric community that prides itself in protecting our local and global climate.
During the summer months GPC offers outdoor yoga for new and experienced yogis to unwind before starting their weekend. You’ll find ME spending every other Saturday soaking up the sun and natural beauty while holding a pose on the patio or practicing indoors under the glass greenhouse with inclement weather. Either way, namaste all morning! (Animal lovers: GPC offers GOAT YOGA once a month so you can practice with furry friends…)
Although the hives themselves are always available for viewing, skilled volunteers are present on select days to perform routine maintenance and show us there’s much more than honey to thank bees for.
Before you fly away from this, buzz around a bit to learn about why beekeeping is so important… We even wrote another blog about “Protecting Pollinators!”
All in all, Garfield Park Conservatory is always a good idea – especially for MAJAMAS EARTH design inspo when picking new floral prints!
4. Outdoor Entertainment & Dining – AJ’s Fave
Summer Days in Chicago are amazing! There is always something to do under the sunny rays! There is music in the air and a vast array of culinary DElectable eateries around each corner. Since we’ve had long winters, we’ve made an effort to be outdoors as much as possible, weather permitting.
My husband and I became two lucky “fur parents” a few years back. We are thrilled to have been the third and FINAL home to Harley, a brilliant adventurous American Eskimo gal and Beau, our sweet dandy Poodle/Terrier boy. Our morning goodbyes to work are not the best part of our days but hey, we have to put kibble in their bowls!
One of our favorite places to be is Montrose Beach at sunset. Our fur babies always dash straight into the water to refresh from the hot temperatures. We love watching them hop and swim in the water with big smiles on their faces! It’s also impressive to watch their ultimate speed when running with other dogs. Don’t fret, at the exit there’s a washing station for your pet so they don’t bring the entire beach in your car.
We love taking them for long walks along the lake on weekend mornings too. The lake is beautiful and glistens magically at sunrise; it’s definitely a peaceful way to kick-start the day while the city is quiet. Sometimes we follow our beach trip with breakfast at Kanela Breakfast Club and enjoy patio seating for four.
When my husband and I enjoy the city on our own or with friends and family we tend to go back to our favorite spots throughout the city.
Wednesday nights we gravitate to Lalos Mexican Restaurant for Salsa dancing and cocktails. When we ditch home cooking, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba is our favorite place to enjoy family time over tapas and sangria. Chicago Pizza Oven Grinder is another spot worth the wait; it can be close to two hours and heads up, it’s cash-only, but we make the most of it and have dessert before our meals at a local ice cream shop.
Lincoln Square is another fun strip of local boutiques, café’s and restaurants, farmers markets, and frequent summer festivals to explore. We love bike riding in the city and strongly recommend riding alongside hundreds of cyclists at the Critical Mass event held on the last Friday of every month at Daley Plaza from 5:30 p.m. to as-long-as-you-can-hang. Finally, the Full Moon Jam is a fun way to take it back to Foster beach with a chair or blanket to enjoy a big celebration with live drum music and fire dancing under the full moon.
Chicago is full of entertainment! Next time you are in the area don’t forget to stop by the MAJAMAS EARTH Showroom on your way to explore our beautiful city!
5. Chicago Vegan Restaurants – Dana’s Fave
Nothing beats the variety of foods you’ll find in this city. It allows me to try tons of new flavors in unexpected ways and get inspiration for my own home-cooking.
One of my all-time-favorites near ME is Native Foods. They have the best plant-based bowls, cauliflower dippers and refreshing lemonades.
Chicago Diner is another fave, “meat-free since ’83!” Their “milk-shakes” are delicious and they use sustainable packaging for all the lunchtime deliveries!
So there you have it… Come on over and explore Chicago for yourself! Send us a comment or tell us your favorite thing to do, eat or see when you’re here.
TO HEAR FROM YOU
Where do you frequent in Chicago?
Please share your own thoughts with ME – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS® EARTH garment this week!