Ah, an entire free day with absolutely nothing to do. The dream, right? I live a pretty riveting life (as if you couldn’t tell from my cat-themed Instastories) so I thought- hey! Why not give the people what they want- a post all about what I’d do with a free day in Chicago. Spoiler alert- it’s mainly about food.
Pure Barre West Loop– I wrote an entire post about my Pure Barre obsession that you can read here. I started taking Pure Barre classes almost four years ago, and the West Loop studio has become my home away from home. It’s also the perfect place to get your butt kicked before a long day of wandering the city eating.
Limitless Coffee– This coffee shop opened up right around the corner from our old place, and I routinely trek out of my way now to go there. I love their glitter lattes, fizzy caffeinated fruit slushie drinks, and avocado toast. Fun fact- the West Loop location is right next to Publican Quality Breads so all of their toast is served on amazing fresh baked bread. Plus, they bring in donuts (I think Firecakes?) so they’ve got you covered on all your post-workout needs.
Alice and Wonder– It’s worth heading to Lincoln Park for the cutest boutique in Chicago. I love the styles and pieces they carry, but it’s also worth going just for the decor and the nicest salesgirls. You can tell how much they really cater to their client base, and it shows in how spot-on their collections are every season. My favorite scarf and hat were both from here last season, and I need to stop in again to check out their new winter accessories!
Walk Lincoln Park– Lincoln Park is the most scenic of Chicago’s neighborhoods, and I forget just how cute it is until I’m there. You also get the best views of the lakefront and skyline while walking near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Lincoln Park zoo. I used to live closer to this area, and I loved taking long walks admiring it all.
Left Coast– You thought I’d pick Sweetgreen, didn’t you? It was a toss up, but I went with Left Coast since it’s unique to Chicago. They’re basically a healthier, more curated version of fast food. The menu is pretty extensive, and everything I’ve ever tried has been delicious. The interior is also super insta-worthy so you can dress up your feed while having an acai bowl or smoothie.
Sweet Mandy B’s– I can’t walk out of here without buying at least 5 things. It’s a problem, and yet I’ll never stop. I’ve never had anything bad from Sweet Mandy B’s, but I’m partial to their oreo bars and peanut butter cup cupcakes. Basically anything is a dessert dream and will send you into an immediate sugar coma.
Cocktails at Fox Bar– We’re back in the West Loop now, and this is one of my favorite hidden spots. It’s located inside Soho House, but you don’t have to be a member to come here. Fox Bar isn’t very big, but it’s cozy with a vibe that is way cooler than me. They have a list of speciality cocktails that you can enjoy while sitting in a big plush chair or, if you’re not lucky, a fold up lawn chair. I’m telling you- it somehow works. You can also order from a small food list provided by Chicken Shop next door. The chicken nuggets are out of this world good, and they’re actually a pretty good deal at only $10!
Maillard Tavern– I would happily stay at the Chicken Shop (I think it’s the most underrated place in all of West Loop), but Maillard Tavern is worth walking the few extra blocks. I wrote all about it in a post here, but it essentially has the best burgers, fries, and shakes around. I honestly think it rivals Au Cheval’s burger, but it still seems to be a hidden gem so the waits aren’t crazy long. It’s owned by the team behind Piccolo Sogno so they know what they’re doing.
There you have it! I’m glad that almost every single stop on the list is food-related because it’s Chicago and that’s how it should be. I’m currently working on a more extensive Chicago guide which will feature more Chicago destinations (think: Art Institute, Field Museum), but I’m definitely not doing that stuff on a typical day. So, if you’d ever like to stalk me around the city, try these places first!