Lincoln Park v. Millenium Park
Millenium Park is all well and good and yes I know everyone who comes to Chicago really feels like they must get a photo at the Bean. I swear people won't think less of you if you don't come home with that photo I promise. Head out of the Loop and north to Lincoln Park instead! First off Lincoln Park has the Lincoln Park Zoo so I'm pretty sure that means it wins hands down. You can't really go wrong with a FREE world class zoo that you can just wander in and out of. There are beautiful lakes (plus Lake Michigan and the beach is just a little walk away), open spaces, and two more museums at both ends (Chicago History Museum & Peggy Notaebart Nature Museum). It's a great place to just hang out and see some real Chicagoans, you might see a few crazy ones too be prepared.
It seems that everyone thinks that Chicago Style Pizza is the only thing we've got going food wise (and cupcakes not sure where that one came from?), OH no no my friends we have this awesome thing called the Chicago Style Hot Dog. When you ask them to "drag it through the garden" you'll be getting a delicious all beef (if it's not Vienna Beef it's no good!) dog on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, chopped onions, neon green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear; tomato slices, sport peppers; and a dash of celery salt. I know pizza is oh so awesome but seriously go for the dog. I'm not going to lie to you I'm a bad Chicagoan on this one, I like my hot dog with ketchup but I must warn you to be careful where you go if you're a ketchup person some places don't have it and will turn you down if you ask for it! My favorite place is Portillos but there are tons of others, if you're heading up to Lincoln Park check out Clark Street Dog (Clark & Halsted).
Hancock Building v. Sears Tower
First things first it's the Sears Tower not the Willis Tower! It will never be that! Now that we have that out of the way, head to Streeterville instead and check out the Signature Lounge at the 95th. For one thing you'll actually be looking at the Sears Tower in these aaaaamazing views of the city. The kicker for me is when you head to the Lounge instead of paying entrance fee spend that dough on some yummy appetizers or desserts and drinks. I've had the chocolate cake and it's rich and oh so sinfully delicious.
Lou Malnati's v. Gino's East
For those of you who it's just not a Chicago trip without the deep dish pizza go for Lou Malnati's not Gino's this time. I'm not saying I don't like Gino's, it's good pizza but I LOVE Lou's. I think my love stems from the amazing crust. It's just so buttery, melt in your mouth flaky goodness, I really want some now that I'm making myself think about it! Time for another bad Chicagoan confession! I honestly prefer thin crust over the deep dish and Lou's is one of my favorites. Same exact crust as the deep dish but crisp and crunchy melt in your mouth goodness. One thing that is just the cherry on top is that you can take Lou's pizzas half baked to go or send them anywhere in the country!!
Both of these places are some of my favorite museums to visit but I feel like lately the Shedd has been getting a little big for it's britches. Everyone I know from out of town just can't wait to go to the Shedd and I know it's a world class place but honestly you can see pretty much the same things at the zoos in the area too. Why not head to a place that has things you can only see in Chicago?! Like the world's most complete T-rex skeleton or the Tsavo Lions who inspired the movie the Heart of Darkness. That place would be the Field Museum! There is so much more than just animals to see at the Field Museum too. Right now one of the temporary exhibits is of the 1893 World's Fair, which I am stoked to go see. The Field Museum also gives you a lot more bang for your buck too, so you can be sure to make the most of your Chicago visit.
That is my little list of Do this and Not thats for visiting Chicago! Hope to see you around my parts soon. : )