I♥NY. It’s true. But now listen up because I have to tell you why Chicago is really “my kind of town.”
I do find Chicago remarkably similar to New York City but at a less overwhelming, less frenetic pace. The similarities begin with great architecture, shopping and entertainment. Contrasting the two, I find Chicago more easily navigable, clean, relatively safe and affordable. The city’s central location makes it accessible from many states by car; and thanks to its two monstrous (I will admit that) airports, you can often get quite the airfare deal in and out of the city.
According to the latest Hotel Price Index just released by hotels.com, Chi-town ranks number twelve (#12) on the list of most expensive cities with an average nightly rate of nearly $136 per night. But that’s still an average of $54 less per night than New York City. Despite hotel room rates rising an average of 10% from the last year across the U.S., cities across the country are still lowering rates dramatically to attract vacationers in the midst of the economic downturn.
Staying in Chicago
For those of us who try to make that dollar stretch while on vacation, Chicago is still one of those cities where you get more bang for the buck with hotel accommodations compared to some other large U.S. metropolises. For example, a stay at the 4-star Hotel Felix Chicago, which features a full-service spa and fitness facility, may cost you a mere $115/night. And I hear the beds are super comfy! The perfectly situated Sofitel Chicago Water Tower hotel is plush and refined with rates from $290/night. I hold a special spot in my heart for the Sofitel staff that took care of my every need and request when I was bitten by a stomach bug during a business trip. It’s an experience like that, which builds loyalty!
With so much to see and to do in Chicago, it’s no surprise then that the city ranks number four (#4) as a top destination for Americans behind Las Vegas, New York and Orlando. Even international visitors who typically favor U.S. destinations with sun and surf, ranked Chicago number eight (#8) on their list of top cities to visit.
Things to do in Chicago
Dining in Chicago is an experience as well. Many of the city’s chefs and restaurants are lauded for their culinary masterpieces but none more than the famed Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It’s easy to navigate the city; whether you’re walking to Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile or take your chance on the El train line (their subway system), affordable entertainment abounds in the Windy City as well with many options for visitors of all ages. I like to take the El, which is user-friendly and inexpensive, to Armitage Avenue and spend a leisurely afternoon strolling fashionable Lincoln Park.
Chicago in the fall is the city at its best. It’s completely doable in a weekend and will feel like you had a week and still leave you wanting more. If you get there soon, catch Oktoberfest Chicago, September 23-25th or perhaps take in a Cubs or Bears game.
And do me a favor when you’re there, take an architectural boat tour of the city; you won’t regret it!