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Breweries Beyond Chicago Feature Image

Chicago was recently crowned the craft-brew capital of the U.S., but it isn’t the only place in the region to grab a local pint and relax. Check out these top-rated breweries that are just a hop, skip and a jump – or train ride – from the city.

Two Brothers Brewing Company & Tap House, Warrenville

This 100 percent family owned and operated microbrewery and brewpub has been handcrafting its artisan beers since 1997. Located in the western suburbs of Chicago, this 40,000 square foot facility offers free brewery tours on the weekend where patrons can see the magic happen and snag a sample or two of their favorite craft beer. Don’t forget to stop by the Two Brothers Tap House adjacent to the brewery for a quick lunch before or after the tour.

Solemn Oath Brewery, Naperville

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Check out the wide selection of Belgian-inspired and barrel-aged beers! (Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath Brewery)

Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville offers Belgian-inspired and barrel-aged beers with a free glimpse of how the suds are made. Separated by only a half-wall, the taproom at the Solemn Oath gives visitors a full display of the brewery and a chance to experience all of the sights, sounds and smells of the brewing process while enjoying a flight from their latest beer list. This menu changes frequently, so be sure to order a growler to bring home if you find a favorite.

Carlyle Brewing Company, Rockford

 The Rockford Region’s premiere microbrewery has something for everyone, with 10 to 12 styles of ales and lagers on tap at any time and more than 30 styles of beer brewed onsite throughout the year. This European-style ale house offers a variety of fresh-brewed beer to sample and fun, pub-style foods, making it a perfect stop to sip on a cold beer and relax.

NEW: Alter Brewing Company, Downers Grove

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New to Downers Grove is Alter Brewing Company! (Photo courtesy of Alter Brewing Company)

The latest to join the craft beer movement in the Chicago suburbs is Alter Brewing Company located in Downers Grove. It’s founded by three longtime brewers from Chicago’s north side who have been perfecting their brewing technique since 1992. Now, the newly-opened 6,600 square foot taproom and brewing facility will offer continually produced beers, as well as seasonal and limited release selections.

For more places to raise a glass outside Chicago, visit www.EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

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.

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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 EnjoyIllinois.com.

–Illinois Office of Tourism

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Kick off the winter season by spending the weekend with your girlfriends. With a plethora of winter activities, dining options and nightlife fun, Chicago is the perfect playground for you and your friends to dive into December and spend some quality girl time together.

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Ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is a Chicago winter favorite

Ice Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Trade in your boots for ice skates and spend the morning completing figure-eight’s at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. The rink, now in its 12th season, is free and open to the public. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and make sure to take a group photo in front of The Bean afterwards! The ice rink is located on Michigan Avenue, the perfect spot for a post-skate shopping endeavor.

Lunch at Atwood Café

After spending time on the ice, refuel by enjoying a light lunch at Atwood Café. Atwood Café’s seasonal menu consists of creative interpretations of contemporary American café fare, including its gourmet chicken salad, mushroom barley risotto and truffle fries. Amidst all the hustle of Chicago’s Loop, the Café is the perfect destination to get out of the cold and enjoy exceptional food and drink.

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Michigan Avenue is known for its great shopping and dining experiences

Shopping along the Magnificent Mile

Chicago is renowned for its world-class shopping. Continue the fun completing your holiday shopping and treating yourself to a gift as well.  With four shopping centers, famous boutiques and acclaimed designers, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile area is the ultimate shopper’s dream!

Dinner at Bella Bacinos

After working up an appetite, enjoy an authentic Italian meal at Bella Bacinos. Bella Bacinos offers fine dining in the heart of downtown. The hearty cuisine and extensive wine selection have satisfied visitors and locals for over 30 years. Indulge in one of the many delicious dishes, and for the health conscious, make sure to try a slice of the pizza. Bella Bacinos is well known for the development of the first heart healthy pizza to be included in the Chicago Heart Associations Eat Well Guide!

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Pops for Champagne offer’s guests over 100 bottles of wine, shared plates, raw bar and dessert menus

Drinks at Pops for Champagne

To top off a great day, stop by Pops for Champagne for a taste of Chicago nightlife. Pops is the nation’s most acclaimed champagne bar and one of Chicago’s most elegant live music clubs. The bar offers more than 100 bottles of champagne and sparkling wines along with a delicious menu of shared plates, raw bar items and decadent desserts. Located on State Street, Pops is the place to celebrate the city and your girlfriends!

What are some of your favorite stops in Chicago? Share with us and comment below! For more Illinois restaurant, shopping and nightlife ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

 

 

 

 

Andersonville Feature Image

When planning an LGBT-friendly trip to Chicago, travelers typically think of the Boystown neighborhood as the place to see. While the bustling streets of Boystown are famous for alfresco dining, coffee shops and the incredible nightlife, the lesser-known Andersonville community is a hidden gem for travelers looking for quaint LGBT destinations in the Windy City.

The Swedish neighborhood on Chicago’s north side has quietly become an LGBT favorite with its celebrated restaurants, eclectic shopping and laid-back bars with a touch of sophistication. Travelers can explore Andersonville’s nationally recognized commercial district, comprised almost entirely of locally owned, independent businesses, and unwind at a variety of LGBT-friendly accommodations.

Here are places we recommend seeing, eating and staying in Andersonville:

SEE:

Andersonville & Edgewater: Chicago Neighborhood Tour

Departing from the Chicago Cultural Center, the Andersonville & Edgewater: Chicago Neighborhood Tour explores the gay-friendly shops and restaurants of Andersonville and the Art Deco and Tudor Revival architecture of the Bryn Mawr Historic District.

Women & Children First Book Store

One of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, the 33 year-old establishment is home to more than 30 thousand books about women and the best lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction. It is a favorite stop for Andersonville residents, scholars and travelers alike.

EAT:

Hopleaf

The Belgian-focused menu at Hopleaf and “staggering beer list” has placed Hopleaf on the map of some of Chicago’s best taverns. Make sure to order the specialty mussels served Belgian-style!

Hopleaf

The Belgian-inspired Hopleaf tavern in Andersonville is a popular watering hole for locals and visitors

Swedish Bakery

Opened in the late 1920’s by the Johnson family, Andersonville’s Swedish Bakery is famous for its European-style pastries, including coffeecakes, cookies, sweet rolls, petit fours and marzipan cakes.

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Swedish Bakery’s variety of cake flavors, like this lemon cake, are baked in-house

Marty’s Martini Bar

Often called the No. 1 martini bar in Chicago, Marty’s Martini Bar is just off Andersonville’s main drag. In the summertime, spend an evening sipping one of the specialty martinis alfresco on the bar’s picturesque patio.

Marty's Martini Bar

Drinks at Marty’s range from bitter to savory to sweet

STAY:

Andersonville Guesthouse

The swanky Guesthouse situated near the southern end of Andersonville features deluxe rental suites and a penthouse with rooftop deck. It offers guests the opportunity to live like a local in Andersonville with all the amenities of a five star hotel.

Think we missed something? Comment below and tell us what other Andersonville restaurants, attractions and nightlife hot stops you recommend! For more trip ideas, visit the LGBT Travel Trip Ideas section at EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Brewery Feature Image

Did you know Illinois ranks eleventh in the nation for the most craft breweries? According to the Brewers Association, Illinois is home to more than 100 craft breweries and the number continues to grow!

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Flossmoor Station and Brewery in Flossmoor produces handcrafted brews from the finest ingredients available. (Photo: Instagramer (at) joshuawagy)

Whether you’re a beer aficionado or you simply enjoy a good IPA once in a while, Illinois is the place to taste a variety of unique craft brews. Many breweries are located in Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area, so it’s easy to plan a quick Chicago & Beyond getaway dedicated to craft beer.

@kel_cat

Two Brother’s Brewing Company in Warrenville is a family owned and operated microbrewery that has been handcrafting beers since 1997. (Photo: Instagramer (at) kel_cat)

To help you plan your next trip to one of our many craft breweries, we created a map of the breweries and brewpubs in the Chicago & Beyond region. In the map, you’ll see 89 breweries in the region that offer tours, tastings, taprooms and/or restaurants.

What is your favorite brewery in Illinois? For more information on the state’s brewery scene, visit EnjoyIllinois.com

-The Illinois Office of Tourism