Category Archives: Chicago & Beyond

Home / Chicago & Beyond
580 Posts
Andersonville Feature Image

Chicago is famous for its food, and rightfully so. People come from all around the world to try deep dish pizza and the Chicago-style hot dog as only the Windy City can provide. For those looking to venture outside the Chicago classics, take a trip to one of Chicago’s many thriving neighborhoods.

Andersonville is a heavily Swedish-influenced neighborhood and LGBT destination just north of Foster Avenue and a few blocks west of Lake Michigan. There are so many outstanding restaurants in the area that it’s hard to choose where to go in just one day. Here we’ve outlined a full culinary itinerary for strolling down the main drag, Clark Street, in Andersonville.

Brunch at Big Jones (5347 N Clark Street)

Southern cooking is the focus of this neighborhood favorite that puts unique twists on traditional dishes, like buttermilk biscuits topped with hot pepper jelly and an omelet stuffed with both crawfish and Andouille sausage. Big Jones also makes its own breakfast meats in-house and adds them to mouth-watering creations such as the tasso ham, smoked for two days and served with pickles, cheese and crackers. Traditional Southern brunch items such as biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, gumbo and other Cajun-inspired breakfasts are also available. Brunch is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Brunch at Big Jones

Eggs New Orleans at Big Jones. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) cindyfok)

Lunch at Hopleaf (5148 N Clark Street)

This Belgian-inspired kitchen has 63 rotating beers on tap to accompany its lunch menu of small plates, sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts. The signature item at Hop Leaf is the mussels, which are flown in from Prince Edward Island and served either steamed in Belgian beer with vegetables or with lobster and bacon, doused in chili butter, lemon and cilantro. The frites are another can’t miss item at Hopleaf and can be added as a side dish with any lunch meal.

Lunch at Hopleaf

Hopleaf features 63 rotating tap beers. (Photo courtesy of (at) stephanie_toland)

Drinks at Marty’s Martini Bar (1511 W Balmoral Avenue)

Before stopping for dinner, make a trip to Marty’s Martini Bar, around the corner off Clark Street on Balmoral Avenue. Marty’s is the perfect place to sip creative, original cocktails while sitting out on the patio enjoying a warm summer evening.

Dinner at Anteprima (5316 N Clark Street)

Cap off an indulgent day with traditional Italian home-style cooking at Anteprima. Several unique menu concoctions are the result of the staff traveling to homes throughout Italy for secret culinary recipes. Anteprima offers an extensive wine list to pair with interesting vegetable plates, flavorful pastas and delicious entrees. These rustic Italian dishes are prepared using locally grown organic produce.

Bonus Pick: Treats at the Swedish Bakery (5348 N Clark Street)

If you still have any room left in your stomach, the most authentic Andersonville establishment on the list is the Swedish Bakery. Famous for its friendly, warm customer service and even warmer treats, the Swedish Bakery serves a wide variety of sweet and savory cakes, cookies, pastries and breads. If you are overwhelmed by all the options, a signature authentic Swedish dish is the Toska tart, a moist almond cake surrounded by a flaky short dough crust and topped with caramelized almonds.

Swedish Bakery_Andersonville

A yellow cake topped with marzipan at the Swedish Bakery in Andersonville.

For more food suggestions in Andersonville, other Chicago neighborhoods and the rest of the Land of Lincoln, find something more at

–Illinois Office of Tourism

FEATURE IMAGE_Illinois Railway Museum

Taking a train ride, or “riding the rails,” is a classic American experience. At one time, rail travel was the height of transportation technology, moving the nation from point A to point B. While major interstate highways and air travel are today’s prevalent modes of transportation, there are still enthusiasts and historians that have preserved the history of train travel. In fact, just an hour outside of Chicago, the Illinois Railway Museum in Union has more preserved and restored train history than you’re likely to find anywhere else.

The Illinois Railway Museum in Union isn’t your average museum experience. Here you can get up close and personal with the exhibits!

The Illinois Railway Museum in Union isn’t your average museum experience. Here you can get up close and personal with the exhibits!

It all started decades ago, when a dedicated group of volunteers began assembling historic buildings, track, locomotives and cars right on site in Union. They bonded over their common love and nostalgia with railway history, and over time their endeavor grew from preserving one piece of rolling stock to an educational and historic preservation organization recreating possibly the largest operating railroad demonstration in North America!

This museum is unlike others you may have visited. Here, you’ll hear, “All aboard!” and step onto a steam train, diesel train, electric car or trolley bus to experience a piece of history for yourself. You can “ride the rails,” reminiscing back to a distant memory, or incite wonder and awe in your child’s mind as they gaze at a larger-than-life piece of engineering.

Special exhibits and trains are always coming in, so make sure to check their schedule online!

Special exhibits and trains are always coming in, so make sure to check their schedule online!

This June, the museum celebrates Chicago Day, when the museum will be commemorating the last day of streetcar service in Chicago 56 years ago. The past lives on as you ride Chicago streetcars, trolley coaches, “L” trains, and interurban and commuter trains that served the city long ago.

Fathers are in for a special treat Sunday, June 21, as they’ll get free admission when accompanied by at least one fare-paying child or adult to celebrate Father’s Day.

Children of all ages can enjoy stepping onto these historic trains.

Children of all ages can enjoy stepping onto these historic trains.

The museum welcomes all to join in and experience the fun learning environment they’ve created. As they say, “only one prerequisite is recommended, a sincere interest in railroading.”

For more information about things to do with your family in Illinois, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

UK FAM Trip Feature Image

This March, three travel writers from the United Kingdom hopped across the pond and landed in Illinois. They spent an entire week in the Land of Lincoln and had a blast exploring Chicago, Utica, Galena and Rockford. Check out a few photos these international writers took of their Illinois adventures below!



travelsofadam Skydeck Chicago 3-27

U.K. blogger Adam Groffman of “Travels of Adam” loved the view from The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago! (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Odyssey Cruises Chicago 3-29

International visitors ate a phenomenal dinner aboard the Odyssey Cruise in Chicago. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

Kira Agass_Lou Mitchell's

Writer Kira Agass loved the classic American diner breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago. (Photo: (at) KiraAgass via Twitter)


storyofagirl89 Starved Rock 3-29

Blogger Sophie Warner of “Story of a Girl Who Lives Above Her Means” loved discovering the canyons and waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in Utica. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)


travelsofadam Farmer's Guest House 3-30

The Farmer’s Guest House was home for the group during their stay in Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Horseshoe Mound 3-30

These U.K. bloggers were impressed by Galena’s natural beauty at Horseshoe Mound. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Mississippi River

Adam was blown away by the view of the Mississippi River from Goldmoor Inn. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

storyofagirl89 Galena Historic District 3-31

Sophie snapped this picture of the shops in historic downtown Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)


storyofagirl89 Midway Village 4-1

These international journalists went back to grade school at Midway Village Museum in Rockford. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

storyofagirl89 Corondo Theatre 4-2

Sophie enjoyed touring Rockford’s Coronado Theatre. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out

— The Illinois Office of Tourism

Feature Image James Beard

For the first time in 25 years, the annual James Beard awards are coming to the Windy City on May 4. All eyes will be on Lyric Opera of Chicago as world-renowned chefs, restaurateurs, and celebrities converge for the ‘Oscars of Food.’

Many Chicago restaurants like Parachute have already been honored as finalists, including chefs Dana Cree of Blackbird and Tanya Baker of Boarding House. But what’s more, hosting the James Beard Awards is just another example of the excellent culinary scene in Chicago and Illinois.

While most of us may not be attending the awards (you can live stream the ceremony from the James Beard Foundation website), there’s no reason why we shouldn’t indulge in some delicious dishes, and what better way than with a foodie tour?

There are several tour operators that will tantalize your taste buds with excursions all over Chicago, including Tastebud Tours.

Lou Malnatis Pizza

A Tastebud Tour includes some quintessential Chicago cuisine: deep-dish pizza!

Reserving a tour gets you three hours of foodie bliss, tasting some of the quintessential Chicago cuisine like deep-dish pizza and Chicago dogs, as well as pillars of Chicago culinary history like Billy Goat Tavern and The Berghoff.

The Berghoff

The Berghoff is a classic Chicago restaurant and one of several stops on the Tastebud Tour.

You can also visit some of Chicago’s hidden-gem markets, like the French Market. Praised by Travel + Leisure and Zagat as one of America’s best food halls, the French Market brings together local artisans in an indoor space that makes it accessible year round. In the summer, Chicago is full of fresh farmer’s markets, like Green City Market, that are a must-visit for both top chefs and casual foodies.

Farmers Market

In the summer months, Farmer’s Markets are a central fixture in Chicago!

If you’re ready to go one step further and put your culinary knowledge to the test, Chicago has several culinary institutes catering to any level of expertise. Kendall College, based in Chicago’s downtown area, offers a variety of classes ideal for everything from a girls night out to becoming a grillmaster or a budding mixologist.

At the end of the day, whether you prefer exquisite Michelin-starred dining or some down-home cooking, almost everyone can agree with George Bernard Shaw, who said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

— The Illinois Office of Tourism







Five Things to do with the Kids Feature Image

The Chicago & Beyond region has tons of exciting activities for families looking to escape winter’s chill. From retro-themed diners to undersea discoveries, there’s no shortage of fun for families in the Windy City. Check out our round-up of Chicago’s best indoor activities your kids will love below. What are your favorite family-friendly activities in Chicago? Comment below and tell us!

The Field Museum

A trip to the Field Museum in Chicago is the perfect outing for your family’s little scientist. Children can embark on underground adventures, descend into an Egyptian tomb, be dazzled in the Hall of Gems, come nose to nose with the infamous man-eating lions of Tsavo, and walk among dinosaurs in Evolving Planet. The best part? Kids can discover Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex ever found!

Field Museum

A view of the Field Museum entrance and the largest T. Rex ever found, Sue

Ed Debevic’s

Your kids will love dining at one of Chicago’s top retro-themed diners. You’ll be sure to laugh as quirky servers in flashy costumes serve up burgers with a side order of sass. Ed Debevic’s waiters pride themselves on snarky remarks and even drop their trays to do choreographed dance numbers on the soda counters.

Ed Debevic's

Enjoy an old school diner experience at Ed Debevic’s

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Located just outside Chicago in nearby Schaumburg, LEGOLAND Discovery Center lets kids dive into the biggest pile of Lego bricks ever! Your kids will “ooh” and “ahh” at outrageous Lego creations and have a blast building their own. They’ll also journey through medieval castles, fly with dragons, pedal in the clouds on the Technicycle, feel a part of the story in the 4D cinema and much more.


Kids ogling a lion built entirely from Legos at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Illinois

Skydeck Chicago: The Ledge

The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago will let your kids enjoy a view unlike any other. Located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Ledge’s glass boxes jut out from the side of the skyscraper, offering unparalleled views of Chicago and four neighboring states. This is a great attraction for older kids looking for a fun adrenaline rush.


A family admires the view of a lifetime at Skydeck Chicago’s The Ledge

Shedd Aquarium

Have your kids ever been eye-to-eye with a dolphin? Said hello to a penguin on a stroll to the South Pole? Immersed in a flooded Amazon forest? Or met a friendly beluga whale? They can explore it all at Shedd Aquarium. Your kids will have a blast meeting Luna, a baby sea otter recently rescued by Shedd.


Visitors getting a closer look at tropical fish at the Shedd Aquarium (Photo credit: Choose Chicago)

For more family-friendly trip ideas, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism