The fabulous people at Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile provided us with a room to stay for a night so we could truly stay on the Mag Mile like tourists! All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Hey, Nerds!! I am so excited to be writing this post today as it is my first real travel post on the blog. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, but I wasn’t sure what I had to offer you. Then I realized, I love following travel bloggers who go to exotic places for weeks at a time, but that simply isn’t in the realm of possibility for me right now because of budget and time – and many of you are probably in the same boat. A weekend trip to Clearwater, a stay in wine country, or even a staycation in our own city is possible, though.
So whether time or budget (or both) is an issue, you might want approachable, realistic travel ideas, too.
I decided to start right at home for my first post. I live in this awesome city (Chicago haters should close the tab now) so we, of course, take it for granted sometimes. I also forget that my husband isn’t from Chicago, so there are a lot of things I have experienced about Chicago over the 23 years I have lived here that he hasn’t. Not every kid gets to go to Chicago for a field trip … multiple times. All this leads to the fact that I will be doing a couple different posts this year about Chi-Town because there is just SO MUCH to talk about!
To start us off, I am going to share with you 7 Reasons to Stay on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile when you visit, especially if it is your first time coming to Chicago. The Mag Mile offers access to a lot of the city’s attractions, food, and history, making it good place to start when visiting Chicago.
PSA: That is not to say there isn’t more to Chicago then the Mag Mile! I am saying this for all my Chi-Town Friends reading this screaming that our many and cool neighborhoods have a lot to offer, but those are for future posts. 😉 Sometimes when a tourist, you should do tourist things.
So, what is the Magnificent Mile? It’s a 13 block stretch of North Michigan Avenue that starts at the Chicago River to the south and goes up the Oak Street to the North. The Mag Mile District extends a full square mile from N. Michigan Ave. It has more than 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels and more!
1. Shopping: While not the only reason to stay on the Mag Mile, you can’t NOT mention the shopping. With so many stores, everyone will find something the love. The big store that draws people in? American Girl in Water Tower Place. I have to make at least two annual trips to the store for my niece and I’ve known people to travel from all over the country to visit the store.
2. Historic Water Tower: Water Tower Place is one of my favorite buildings in Chicago. While it doesn’t look that impressive, it is one of the only buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1871 and therefore one of our most beloved landmarks. The building is open daily for free and hosts rotating exhibits. For my other favorite buildings, you will need to head to the river!
3. Museums: Right on the Mag Mile is the Contemporary Art Museum and the Chicago Sports Museum. Within a 20 minute walk, you also have access to the Chicago History Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago (my in-laws love the newer modern wing while I love the photography collection and the Monet lilies). Go a little further, and you will be at the Museum campus with Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium. There are probably even more I am missing but these are my go-tos. If you are here in the summer, the Shedd offers Jazz Nights which keeps the aquarium open late, including the sting ray experience, and will give you a prime spot to watch fire works.
4. Navy Pier: This is probably one of the most heated debates in Chicago Travel. It receives a LOT of flack for being touristy, but I love it and have always loved it. With that said, I try to avoid weekends when possible in the summer. I fall into the camp that believes it has a lot to offer. It houses the Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago Children’s Museum, the iconic 150 feet in the air Ferris Wheel, mini golf, art exhibits (including a stained glass exhibit I love), the Crystal Gardens, a really cool IMax, and the Pepsi Skyline Stage. It is also the launching stage for many of the lake boat tours and dinner cruises. Plus, I do love their fireworks. My husband and I have actually celebrated our anniversary a couple times at Riva Crab House on Navy Pier.
5. John Hancock: Yes, Sear’s Tower is taller (Sorry, I refuse to call it Willis) but you get just as amazing views from the John Hancock. They have their 360 Observation Decksh with the “tilt” and their cafe will be open again soon, but, if you are kid free, I suggest heading up to the Signature Room at the 95th instead. The restaurant itself is pricy but the food is amazing! I’m actually saving up for us to do their big New Year’s party this year. Don’t want to eat dinner? Get a drink at their lounge. You can skip the sometimes long line for the observation deck and sip on a cocktail instead!
6. Architecture Cruise: Being on the Mag Mile, you will be close to the river which is where many of the Chicago boat tours start. I have gone on the architecture tour 2-3 times and always love it. You get some of the best views of the city, lots of interesting facts, and a relaxing ride in hopefully beautiful weather. You also get to see some Batman buildings, a plus for my fellow nerds!
7. Garrett’s Popcorn: It might seem silly that this makes it on the list, but it’s a must go place in Chicago. I stop in as often as possible though I’ve never wrapped my mind around the supposed Chicago Mix of Cheddar and Carmel Corn together. No thank you! I prefer cheddar mixed with original or caramel corn on its own! One of the best things about staying at the Hyatt off Mag Mile is that Garrett’s Popcorn was right around the corner!!
So, you know what to do. Now, where do you actually stay?!
I am asked this ALL the time but my experience with Chicago hotels is pretty limited to an occasional special occasion or family visitors. I can whole heartedly recommend the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile! The location to all of these must sees is perfect, especially to Garrett’s and to the Hancock. You are only a block off Michigan so you are close to the energy and shopping without much noise.
Speaking of noise? The cutest thing Hyatt Mag Mile offers is ear plugs for anyone not used to city noise, though I honestly heard nothing from our room that night.
The hotel also has some great art pieces on their own which was fun to explore and see. My favorite was this one of the “Windy City” which was right outside the restaurant, bar and lounge. When we get to a hotel, we like to drop our bags off in the room, make sure everything is in order, and then head to the bar/restaurant for a snack and drink! It’s one of our traditions. At the Hyatt, they have a great restaurant called Level Two plus a chic bar and lounge area! In keeping with tradition, it was our first stop after the room. We highly recommend the calamari and the tacos!
We were lucky enough to have a suite that weekend and it was gorgeous!! It it one of the largest living room areas I have ever seen in a hotel room. The first thought that popped into my head is that the room would be perfect for hosting because it had plenty of seating space and even had table space to set up a bar or appetizers. My husband’s family tends to host parties in hotel rooms between a wedding ceremony and reception, and this room has way more space than we normally have.
As a book nerd, I also loved how many books the hotel had everywhere. There was a lounge area on the first floor with books, board games, and computers and there were books in the hotel room as well. Perfect if you have some free time and needed options.
AND, for my coffee lovers, you will find a Starbucks in the main floor of the hotel, a Dunkin’ Donuts a couple blocks a way as well as a cute little place called Lavazza with great breakfast sandwiches and pastries.
I can’t wait to share more of our adventure with you! There has been lots of traveling this spring. Want to see more pictures? Follow along on Instragram with us and the hashtag #travelnerds!