As summer slips into fall, we Chicagoans are muttering under our collective breath how we hate to see summer go. Can you blame us? We still remember vividly last year’s overly-snowy, ridiculously cold winter!
But it is still officially summer, and autumn is also a lovely time of year here in Chicago, so take heart: there is still time to enjoy the great outdoors before the snow drifts back into our lives again.
There’s a bit of a feeling of desperation in the air during this transition into September every year as folks scramble to try and squeeze the most out of the pleasant weather while it lasts.
Here’s an idea for combining two excellent outdoor events into one outing: try one of the architectural Chicago River boat tours—which you can catch right at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive—combined with lunch or dinner (possibly outdoors) just a few steps away.
Even if you’re a native Chicagoan, these educational river boat cruises are highly recommended. New buildings are being erected continuously along with fascinating new facts. Any true lover of Chicago will enjoy one of these tours. Plus it’s a great way to show off our dazzling city to your out-of-town guests.
ARCHITECTURAL RIVER CRUISES (at Michigan and Wacker):
Chicago’s First Lady (operated by the Chicago Architecture Foundation)
NEARBY DINING OPTIONS:
There are MANY including fast food places too numerous to mention. Here’s a varied selection, depending what you’re in the mood for:
Billy Goat Tavern (the original)
below street level, just under Michigan Avenue and right off Wacker Drive
Billy Goat Tavern offers consistently delicious burgers and fast service served right along with fascinating tidbits of Chicago history, mostly in relation to the Cubs baseball team. Obviously this place is famous (thanks to an unforgettable “Saturday Night Live” skit) and this coupled with a burgeoning lunch crowd can make it challenging to secure seats during the lunch hour. If you go with others, one of you should scout for and save a table for the rest.
Dick’s Last Resort
MarinaTowers (State & Wacker)
Not a fancy joint, yet their crab legs are oh-so-yummy. That’s their specialty, but there is a large menu from which to choose.
corner of Wabash & Wacker (1 blk west of Michigan Avenue)
This is a big, hopping fast-paced place with a huge menu and quality food.
Great Street Restaurant (at the Renaissance Hotel)
corner of State & Wacker (2 blks west of Michigan Avenue)
This restaurant has fine food with exceptional river and city views.
Hoyt’s (in Hotel 71)
71 E. Wacker Drive (1/2 block from Michigan Avenue)
Big and open and right on the river with spectacular views of the river.
on Wacker Drive just east of Michigan Avenue
High-quality world-famous steak & seafood; menu is limited and there’s a choice of a fixed price menu @ $29/person for a full lunch.
Sixteen (in Trump Tower)
1 block northwest of Wacker & Michigan
Great food and service plus an awesome view, looking right out at the clock tower of the WrigleyBuilding.
Smith & Wollensky
318 N. State Street (State & Wacker)
A classy dining spot with excellent food and top notch service. Right on the river with choice of indoors on two levels. The lower level is charming and it feels like you’re right on the river. Plus you can’t help but notice the popular outdoor patio in good weather.
Sweetwater Tavern & Grille
225 N. Michigan Avenue(1 blk south of Wacker Drive)
They have a huge outdoor patio, part of which is even shielded from rain and because of it’s location, it’s also shielded from fall’s oft chilly breezes. The servers are quick and sharp and courteous and the restaurant lavishes generous portions of tasty food and drink.
The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Avenue
Execs and their clients dine there frequently. Also, the outdoor patio makes for great people watching. The menu is eclectic.
If you think creatively and plan carefully, you can still cross some items off your bucket list before summer disappears altogether. Combine activities you can do outside into a single outing. I wish you all the sublime enjoyment still possible while temperate weather lasts!