Two of my kids live in the Windy City so I get here often. They live in the Lakeview area, which is just north of Lincoln Park. It’s a great little part of town, very bustling pretty much twenty four hours a day. The streets are filled with coffee shops (yeah!) and restaurants and book stores and hair salons and thrift stores and drug stores and on and on. Above each of these shops is a three or four story building filled with apartments. In the apartments are people from all stages of life – young singles, old singles, new families, college kids. I suppose you don’t see a ton of little kids out on the street but there are still plenty. Raising children in the city has its challenges, which is why I suppose there aren’t as many here as in the suburbs. Carrying a double stroller up three flights of stairs a couple times a day might make anyone want to buy a car, throw in all your stuff, and move to the suburbs. Ah, but there are still many young parents who are giving their children all the sights and sounds and activities of the city.
One of the places you’ll find a lot of kids is at the dog parks. Yes, dog parks in the city! They aren’t huge rolling acreages like we have here at home, some even with large ponds where your furry friends can grab a swim. No, these are much smaller. Usually tucked in between building or on a shady corner. As you might imagine, it’s hard to make grass grow when the earth is constantly getting pounded by all those paws. So it’s mostly dirt. It can get a little dusty on hot dry days, for sure. But I tell you, it’s such a lift to your day to slow down as you pass and watch all the puppies socializing it up out there! I sometimes wonder how they all get along so well. Wouldn’t it be nice if we humans could do the same thing?
Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without Lake Michigan. Or “the lake”, as they call it. If you’ve ever been you must be familiar with Lake Shore Drive. It runs along the coast, separating the high rise apartment buildings and office buildings from the walking paths and parks and beaches. It’s really something to see on a lovely summer day. People taking picnics under the trees, with kids playing frisbee and dogs usually helping them. You also see plenty of dogs being walked. And occasionally you’ll see a lucky old one being pulled in a wagon. Even us oldies enjoy a little sunshine!! And joggers. You’ll see tons of joggers. There are also lots of bikers and sometimes it doesn’t work out so well for the joggers. I saw a woman once get totally clocked by a bike when the path narrowed to go under an overpass. The poor thing was knocked to the ground and really shaken up. The other thing you see is sun bathers. Oh my. Right there on the concrete with all us tourists walking right past them. Ha! I guess when you need a tan you need a tan.
And certainly you’ve heard of Michigan Avenue. The Magnificent Mile, isn’t it? Non-stop shopping. Lot’s of upscale stuff, too. Way out of my price range, but it’s fun to look. And at the southern part of Michigan Avenue you will find Grant Park and the famous Bean. If you’ve been to Chicago, you’ve taken a selfie in the bean. And right next door is my favorite place in the city. The Art Institute of Chicago. Oh man. It is incredible. Everything. Monet, Picasso, Rembrant, Warhol. And collections from ancient civilizations that will blow your mind. You can spend hours and hours in there and get lost a hundred times. They have a great Calder mobile and a Chagall stained glass wall that is incredible.
There’s plenty more to see in Chicago, but my favorite place to visit is a coffee house. Yes, coffee! Intelligensia. If you haven’t been there you’ve just gotta try it. Pour over, espresso, cappucino, lattes. And they have a really nice cold brew. The best part is the tiny spoons you get to stir your coffee. You can buy them for just a few dollars. One time I was buying one for myself and the woman working the cash register looked at me a little surprised and very happy and told me most people just steal them. Oh, my. The bad karma that would put on your morning coffee. No way!