Why Chicago Is Our New Favorite Place To Visit

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After experiencing an exhilarating, music-filled weekend at Lollapalooza, it’s official: Chicago is up there among our favorite US cities to visit. A great place to check out in the summer (beware of ultra-chilly winters!), the city has a robust foodie scene, fantastic shopping and even a beach—a plus for those accustomed to a coastal lifestyle—all nestled in the heartland. We tapped Erica Choi, Digital Art Director at Barneys New York, to share some highlights from her recent trip to the Windy City.

What To Pack

"Packing for a weekend trip in the summer is the only time you can manage to pack light(er). I recommend plenty of sunglasses and mini bags to explore the city with. (An easy way to change up your look is to switch out the accessories!)

Erica's travel essentials. Photos: Courtesy of Erica Choi

Where To Stay

"The InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is luxe, reliable and super convenient location-wise. The Thompson Chicago and Public Chicago are also great options."

View of the storied Chicago River.

Where To Eat

"I heard the best brunch in Chicago is at Longman & Eagle, and it's true! The chicken and waffles are out of this world, as are the pork belly eggs benedict and Scottish salmon with boiled egg. Of course when in Chicago, you eat deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria—you can't miss! Freds at Barneys New York is great after a shopping marathon, and The Allis is a perfect spot to kick back and take in the vibes."

Breakfast is served—a snap of Erica's decadent spread from her travels.

Where To Stop For An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

"Jeni's Ice Cream is the prettiest ice cream store and they offer so many unique and delicious flavors. To get your doughnut fix, try The Doughnut Vault and Firecakes Donuts. For coffee, Heritage Outpost has such a cozy interior and amazing iced lavender lattes. Intelligentsia Coffee, Bow Truss Coffee Roasters, Cafe Integral, Harvest Juicery and CC Ferns are also solid options for coffee and juice with unique decor and character."

Two scoops of Erica's favorite flavors from Jeni's Ice Cream.

Where To Shop

"Barneys New York is always a must! I love visiting all the stores around the country and seeing the different designer goods based in the city. Gather Home + Lifestyle is a home goods and lifestyle store with a well-curated selection. Architectural Artifacts is a treasure that I recently discovered—it's in a huge warehouse full of the most well-organized antiques from everywhere you can think of. You could literally spend hours in there discovering hidden gems."

Barneys New York's Chicago location.

Sights To See

"The Cloud Gate at Millenium Park is the main attraction of the city—it's beautiful all times of day from all angles. It's a bit frightening, but going on the ledge of the Skydeck is worth the experience. We also spent an evening on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, which is a great boat tour of all the architecture around the city. You get some incredible views of the Chicago skyline."

Such great heights—the view from the Chicago Skydeck.

Where To Get Your Art Fix

"Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest art museum in the country and is well worth a visit. I recommend checking out the Charles Ray sculpture exhibition, going on until October 4."

Erica descending the stairs at the Art Institute of Chicago.