As one of our favorite Chicagoans, Ferris Bueller, put it, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it." The same could be said about his hometown, which has produced some of the country's biggest cultural achievements, like its urban blues, skyscrapers, and, of course, Kanye West. From Humboldt Park's recent surge of vintage shops to Wicker Park's mind-blowing culinary scene and Grant Park's 25 Years of Lollapalooza extravaganza this month, the lakefront metropolis has never felt so dynamic. Who's ready for the Windy City? Anyone? Bueller?
Before you start planning your itinerary, scroll down to discover 11 of the coolest spots to eat, drink, and play in Chicago right now. Our only rule? Don’t you dare skip the deep-dish.
1. Doughnut Vault
One heavenly bite of a buttermilk old-fashioned or triple chocolate from Brendan Sodikoff’s famous brick-walled shop and you’ll forget all about that pesky hour-long wait.
111 N. Canal St.; 312-285-2830; doughnutvault.com
Though it’s since spread to L.A. and N.Y.C., this quality coffee chain—and early adopter of ethical practices—was born 20 years ago on Chicago’s North Side.
3123 N. Broadway; 773-348-8058; intelligentsiacoffee.com
3. Real Good Juice Co.
Started by a former Wall Street trader, this sunny Old Town café concocts cold-pressed drinks with clever names like Juice-tin Bieber and Juicille Ball.
1647 N. Wells St.; 312-846-1897; realgoodjuiceco.com
4. RM Champagne Salon
Enter through a cobblestoned back alleyway and settle in for a candlelit evening of steak frites and bubbly at this Parisian-style lounge from the restaurant group behind Old Town Social.
116 N. Green St.; 312-243-1199; rmchampagnesalon.com
5. The Broken Shaker
Chicago is a serious cocktail town. And that’s exactly why Miami’s Freehand Hotel opened a follow-up outpost in River North. Choose from classic James Beard-nominated tropical libations and new Second City-inspired ones.
19 E. Ohio St.; 312-940-3699; thefreehand.com/chicago
6. Maple & Ash
You might call Maple & Ash the Beyoncé of Gold Coast steak houses. The see-and-be-seen eatery is glitzy, confidence, and adept at turning out hits like a 28-day-dry-aged bone-in rib eye and charred Spanish octopus.
8 W. Maple St.; 312-944-8888; mapleandash.com
7. Pequod’s Pizza
Locals’ relationship with pizza runs, well, deep. One thing everyone can agree on? Pequod’s Chicago-style pies are the ideal balance of crispy crust and cheesy middle.
2207 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-327-1512; pequodspizza.com
A calming glow sets the tone at this day spa, which offers infrared sauna sessions and free monthly meditation classes.
600 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-755-1313; allyuspa.com