I’ve always joked that Chicago is the best city in the world…for three months. Before or after those three months, it’s either way too windy and cold, or way too sticky and humid. But for April, May and June, the weather is perfect, which means you can actually enjoy the gorgeous big city scenery, the fantastic food and enjoy a game and beer at Wrigley. All other months of the year, you’re better off getting a yacht charter for your next vacation if you want to enjoy it.
I’m a Midwest native myself, so I thought I could say these things. But in reality, I didn’t give Chicago’s other seasons much of a chance. In all honesty, I think I was just tired of hearing people say “Chicago’s the best city in the world.” I got sick of hearing it, so I countered with “For only three months.” Maybe it was that they didn’t want to argue, but I took their silence, smugly, to mean I was right.
I’d been to Chicago for a night in the winter, and for two nights to go to Lollapalooza in the smoldering late summer. I thought I knew what I was talking about.
But I was wrong.
I had to spend an entire two weeks there in August of last year for work. I was dreading it. I had to leave breezy beach weather in Marina Del Rey, CA to spend to whole weeks in humidity that would make me sweat as soon as I took one step outside. But there was no way around it.
So I hopped on a plane at LAX (like Miley Cyrus) and a few hours later I was stepping right into the
middle of the 100 degree summer of Chicago. I got to the W hotel, cranked up the A/C to try to cool
down before I had to get dinner.
Dinner was at this placed called Hub 51. A cool scene with a great small plate menu. I was meeting withsome native Chicagoans about a yacht charter deal (that’s what I do). We ended up staying at dinner talking business and pleasure for three hours. By then, the bar was turning into a bar/lounge. The people at this bar, employees and patrons alike, were some of the friendliest people I’ve come across in a major city. The few times I came to Chicago, I mostly kept to my friends and myself. Now I don’t know why. The check came, and after a brief conversation about the scene, all four of us decided to stay for drinks and fun. It was definitely one of the more fun nights I’ve had in Chicago.
The next day, the four of us caught a day game at Wrigley. Though the heat was unbearable, and didn’t seem to affect anyone else except for me, I still had a great time. The sun was shining, baseball was in front of me, so was a beer, and the fun was contagious.
It was only the second day, and I was actually a little ashamed that I was actually liking Chicago. This was a city I was supposed to hate all but three months. I’ve told so many people that I can’t stand it, and here I was enjoying myself. But that didn’t stop me.
My next meetings were with some New York transplants. They seemed to have taken the city in like it was their own. They told me it had the New York feel without the New York attitude. I had to laugh. We ate and drank in the Gold Coast for a couple of days. The margaritas at the Mexican hole-in-the-wall we went to after dinner made me forget about the fact that I felt like I just got done swimming with my shirt on.
The last few days were essentially free days, so I did some sightseeing. I did all the touristy things I refused to do—the bean, the museums, Navy Pier. And sadly, I enjoyed them. The museums in Chicagorival those all over the world. I was blown away, especially by the Shedd Aquarium.Turns out I love Chicago…in all months of the year. And until now, I was keeping that to myself. But I can’t keep it in anymore. I’m outing myself as a fan of Chicago, after all the jokes and harassment I’ve given the city. I’ll be back, and I know I’ll enjoy it.