BEA (also known as Book Expo America) is in Chicago this year and I know it will be a first time in Chicago for people so why not give a small introduction to this amazing city?
Where did the idea of BEA Part of it come from? Estelle from Rather Be Reading started the BEA Part of It series — a guide for everyone who was traveling to NYC for BEA. She wanted to share her home with everyone who was visiting and point out some of her favorite spots, give ideas for places to go, and recommend things to do.
Brittany from Book Addict’s Guide asked me if I would be interested in helping and I said of course! Make sure to check out Brittany’s post here. (Brittany also has a really great post if this happens to be your first year at BEA!) This year, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Chicago attractions along with some other Chicago area friends Heidi from YA Bibliophile and Jaime & Erin from Fiction Fare!
- One thing I will tell you to do while you are at the airport: get some Chicago mix popcorn! What is Chicago mix popcorn? It is a blend of half caramel corn and half cheese corn in the same bag. I know this sounds WEIRD but it WORKS! There are many places to get these in both airports as well as throughout the city. Garrett’s is my favorite but Nuts on Clark is also delicious. Make sure to grab some once you land or before you leave!
- Most people will not have a car (which is fine because Chicago parking is expensive!) so you will be relying on public transportation and the use of cabs or Uber/Lyft. My suggestion is to use the Google Maps App. Google Maps allows you to pick public transportation as an option and I have never been steered wrong when navigating to a new place. If you want to save time I would suggest getting an Uber or Lyft. Both of these have Apps that you can hook your credit card up to (or Paypal I believe). I use Lyft to get around the city and my rides almost never go above $15.
Sights to see!
- The “Bean”/Millennium Park: Cloud Gate (or known to most people as The Bean) is located inMillennium Park. While The Bean is why most people head to Millennium Park, there are a ton of other things to see while you’re there! Hopefully the weather cooperates and you get a chance to walk around.
- Navy Pier: Navy Pier is a fun place to visit and walk around! Usually I would reccomend riding the ferris wheel (the one featured in Divergent!) but it is currently closed for construction and won’t open until the end of May.
- The Shedd Aquarium is the largest indoor aquarium in the world and is really a fun place to spend an afternoon! Right near there is the Field Museum, which features the really awesome Dinosaur SUE!! I mean I guess there is other cool stuff to do there but come on, DINOSAUR. If space is more your fortay then you want to check out Adler Planetarium!
- There is quite a bit to choose from inside the convention hall (including a Starbucks!) This is probably the best option for lunch since there is very little within reasonable walking distance of the convention center!
- One place I insist you stop while in town is Portillo’s. Chicago hot dog, beef sandwiches, cheese fries, burgers and even amazing salads…I have yet to try something here I didn’t like!!!
- When in Chicago you need to get some Chicago style pizza! Lou Malnati’s has the more delicious crust but Giordano’s have tastier sauce (also pictured here). I like Lou’s sausage pizza but Giordano’s has the best stuffed spinach pizza. It really is a toss up between these two! Honorable mention goes to Gino’s East.
- Flo & Santos is very yummy pizza and pierogi joint that also has a great selection of beers (plus is close to the McCormick Place!)
- Yummy breakfast can be found at Yolk (south Loop location is closest to McCormick Place).
- If you are looking to try some delicious beer while in town Vice District Brewing Tap Room is close to McCormick place otherwise Revolution has a Brew Pub location on the northside.
- Little Italy/Taylor Street: McCormick Place is about 10-15 minute drive from Little Italy and there are quite a few restaurants worth mentioning! Fontano’s Subs if you are looking for some of the best subs in the city, Big G’s does pizza by the slice plus open late and delivers to McCormick Place and Mario’s Italian Lemonade on Taylor street for yummy Italian ice!
- Chicago is a big city so if you feel like traveling here are my favorite places: Kuma’s Corner has the best burgers I have ever eaten. I waited almost 2 hours before and it was so worth it. Bang Bang! Pie Shop has delicious pie and biscuits available all day. Cheesie’s Pub & Grub has the yummiest “gourmet” grilled cheese around. Wasabi is my go to for ramen (plus the most delicious pork belly buns).
I love donuts and Chicago has some amazing places to get some!
- Stan’s Donuts & Coffee: I love Stan’s! They have a very wide selection and I am fairly certainthe 26 East Roosevelt Road location delivers to the hotel connected to the McCormick Place! They also have gelato and make gelato milkshakes!!!
- Glazed & Infused: Glazed might be my favorite (sorry Stan’s!) but they closed the location closest to my house (excuse you). They don’t deliver but if you find yourself out and about it is totally worth stopping in! I will say the Maple Bacon Long John might be my all time favorite donut.
- Firecakes: The number 1 thing I can say about Firecakes is that I have never eaten a fresher donut. They don’t have a huge selection but I have yet to have a donut from them that is 100% delicious. Also they may deliver if you plan ahead and get a dozen.