Summer in the city
From sharks at the Shedd to baseball’s All-Star Game, there’ll be a hot time in Chicago this summer
By Cynthia Kagan Frohlichstein

Navy Pier
Navy Pier is one of the city’s most popular attractions (above). /Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs photo. The Museum of Contemporary Art features intriguing exhibitions of art created since 1945. /Museum of Contemporary Art photo (below)
Chicago image

When Frank Sinatra in his inimitable style sang, “My kind of town, Chicago is,” we applauded both his rendition and his sentiments. Chicago is a sophisticated, gutsy, big city populated by friendly Midwest- erners. It’s a combination that’s impossible to beat.

Chicago is museums and attractions

One of the city’s newer major museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago, 312-280-2660) offers thought-provoking exhibitions featuring art created since 1945. The four-story airy structure houses an impressive collection and offers special showings. Trendy Wolfgang Puck Café overlooks a terraced sculpture garden. The gift shop is a winner.

Summer exhibits include a collection of painter John Currin’s figurative images (May 3–Aug. 24). From May 3–Aug. 31, see Paul Pfeiffer’s evocative images that combine computer and video technology.

Visitors save money and time in lines by purchasing a CityPass for admissions to several attractions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Hancock Observatory, The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium.

The “Baseball as America” exhibit, at The Field Museum through July 20, includes 500 artifacts from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. The exhibit is well-timed, as the Chicago White Sox play host to the 2003 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15. Fans can enjoy the John Hancock All-Star FanFest, July 11–15, at McCormick Place (2301 S. Lake Shore Drive). There’ll be interactive exhibits, clinics, seminars, autograph sessions and memorabilia exhibitors offered at FanFest.

The Shedd Aquarium will open the world’s largest and most diverse shark exhibit showcasing more than 300 sharks in a 400,000-gallon tank on April 15.

Though off the beaten path, Garfield Park Conservatory in West Chicago (300 N. Central Park, 312-746-5100) is always in bloom. We most enjoyed Monet’s Garden, the Desert House and getting our hands dirty in the Children’s Discovery Area.

Take advantage of summer weather to get lakeside views of Chicago’s eclectic mix of architectural styles. The Chicago Architectural Foundation offers 90-minute river cruise tours that leave from the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Docents deliver lively, informative commentary spotlighting more than 50 historic and architecturally significant sites. This entertaining tour provides a fresh insight into the city. Individual tickets, available through Ticketmaster (312-902-1500) sell for $23 (weekdays) or $25 (weekends and holidays) per person.

In addition to a variety of other festivals, the city is commemorating its unique musical heritage with a summer-long celebration called “Play On Chicago” that will include a variety of festivals and musical events from June 1–Sept. 21. Among those will be free lakefront and neighborhood food and music festivals, including the Chicago Blues Festival (May 29–June 1), Chicago Gospel Music Experience (June 6–8), Grant Park Music Festival (June 11–Aug. 16), Taste of Chicago (June 27–July 6) and more.

Chicago is a luxury hotel

For divine service, perfect location, exquisite rooms, magnificent views and deluxe amenities, check into the intimate Park Hyatt Chicago (800 N. Michigan, 312-335-1234). This 202-room boutique hotel defines the “extra” in extraordinary.

You’ll feel captivated by the hotel’s art collection. Treasured pieces by acclaimed international artists and area artisans turn the hotel into a virtual museum. The hotel is a testament to classic modernism with design elements influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. A majority of rooms offer stunning views of Lake Michigan.

The amenities kept coming: welcoming fruit and beverage, complimentary pressing of two items on arrival, private butlers on call, complimentary use of their health club and nightly turndown includes a collectible tin box of savories, like cookies or pistachios.
Sales Director Jaro P. Fisher said the décor, staff and constant effort for total guest satisfaction distinguishes Park Hyatt Chicago from other hotels. “We know what the guest wants and expects before he or she arrives,” Fisher said.

Dine at NoMI, easily one of the best restaurants in a city reputed for fine dining.

NoMI epitomizes sophistication in dining by seducing diners not only with the cuisine, but through its various design elements, extraordinary art work and amazing views of Chicago,” award-winning Executive Chef Sandro Gambo said.

Both food and presentation were tantalizing. The plates rivaled the artworks on the wall. Sautéed green and white asparagus were a tempting starter. Tomato and chicken risotto was perfectly prepared, and beef tenderloin with foie gras was sumptuous. A trio of sorbets added the perfect final touch. An impressive wine list and attentive service added to an evening that celebrated the experience of dining.

Chicago is world-class restaurants

For a more informal night try Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (60 E. Grand, 312-379-5637). Yes, that Joe’s Stone Crab from Miami Beach. Reserve a table or expect a four-hour wait at the clubby establishment.

“Most of the people in Chicago go for the stone crabs as an appetizer,” our savvy waitress Martha advised, “and then select a steak or fresh fish for their entrée.”

Side orders are made for sharing. Try the popular fried asparagus, sweet potato chips and cole slaw. Finish with the decadent Bananas Foster Pie.

Bistro 110 (110 E. Pearson, 312-266-3110) serves up the cool sounds of the Grady Johnson Jazz Trio as background for its New Orleans Jazz Brunch, a real Sunday treat. Chicago’s beautiful people crowd in this French bistro to enjoy the authentic tastes and colorful atmosphere. Wake up with Eggs Louisiana, poached eggs over crab cakes served with hollandaise and spicy Creole sauces. Or get under the spell of Voodoo Eggs scrambled with andouille sausage, spinach, potatoes and tangy sauces. Split an order of baked apple cinnamon tart served with cinnamon ice cream.

Chicago is theater

The award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company performs at 821 N. Michigan Ave. David Schwimmer of NBC’s “Friends” this summer will direct an adaptation of Studs Terkel’s “Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession” from June 5–Aug. 10.

Disney’s mammoth musical, “The Lion King,” comes to the Cadillac Palace Theater for a run April 23–Jan. 18, 2004.

Chicago is shopping

This city’s a shopping mecca. Journey to State Street in The Loop, the traditional city center, to shop the flagship stores of Chicago, Marshall Fields and Carson, Pirie Scott.

Stroll Michigan Avenue. The Magnificent Mile runs from the Chicago River to Oak Street. Giant stores like Field’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, FAO Schwartz and Bloomingdale’s are surrounded by fine specialty stores. Turn onto Oak Street for chic international boutiques.

Whether it’s shopping, dining, museums or sporting events that strike a chord with you, Chicago is singing your song.

American girls are smiling in Chicago

Move over Gucci and Louis Vuitton. There’s a new status bag on the Chicago scene. It’s glossy red paper and imprinted with American Girl Place in contrasting white letters. Blissful young girls carry them to all the swankiest places.

Girls and dolls may have never had it so good. In a brilliant merchandising move, the Pleasant Company developed dolls that take on a life of their own.

Have a twin doll. Pick the hair, complexion and eye color to match that of your child. Then purchase matching outfits for the child and her doll. Or choose a doll from history or other lands.

The three-story retail and entertainment stop at 111 E. Chicago Ave. (312-943-9400) offers staged musical revues in its theater. Dolls and their families dine in special Treat Seats at the café. There’s a bookstore, and at the photo shop, girls get their pictures on souvenir covers of “American Girl” magazine.

Throughout this experience, a theme of building self-esteem prevails. The company stresses positive approaches to meeting life’s challenges with grace, self-assurance and inspiration. It seems to work: Every child in the store looked ecstatic to be there. Come to think of it, so did the moms and grandmas.

Cynthia Kagan Frohlichstein is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.


May/Jun 2003 Issue


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