Chicago! Chicago! Our Travelpro Luggage is getting a good work out this summer as we just completed Stop #4 of RMWorldTravel’s big “Let’s Go America! Tour” — as we took our national travel radio show to the Windy City where the weather was calm, sunny and comfortable in the 70’s and 80’s. Wow what a week!

Stop #4 of our tour included a live broadcast from the historic Palmer House Hotel that’s celebrating its 150th Anniversary! This original hotel was actually a wedding gift from entrepreneur/businessman Potter Palmer to his wife Bertha Honore Palmer but unfortunately met its fate in The Great Chicago Fire. Undeterred, Palmer rebuilt it and it became the first hotel to be fully fire proofed, the first hotel with elevators for guests and the first hotel to have telephones and air conditioning in rooms. Enlarged and rebuilt on the same site again in the 1920’s to accommodate its growing reputation as the ‘it’ hotel in Chicago — the Palmer House grew tremendously over the next 50 years developing a celebrity clientele and hosted appearances by famous entertainers including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett and many more. Another interesting fact — the Palmer House created the original brownie that America loves so much today!

Willis tower skydeck showing the skyline of chicago

Chicago is certainly a vibrant city so we spent a lot of time exploring and had an adventurous week. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) has opened an enhanced visitor experience with an immersive showcase on the ground that offers an excellent timeline of the rich architecture, the tasty foods linked to Chicago, the music, theatre, people and more that reflect how central this city was and is to American history and culture. If you’re brave, head up to the 103rd floor and experience the Skydeck — a glass box the extends from the building several feet and offers glass bottom views of Chicagoland! We did it and may never be the same again…

Food? We think Chicago is one of the best cities in the country to explore cuisines of all types but there are definitely a few Chicago local spots you’ll want to hit. Deep Dish pizza is popular here and if you only have time to try one place — head to Lou Malnati’s as the sauce, the cheese, the crust — all made with fresh ingredients sourced from family owned businesses is divine. The Chicago Chop House is an institution that’s been serving-up fine dry aged steaks along with great seafood and an Old Fashioned cocktail that hits the mark of quite possibly being a 10 out of 10 since 1986.

Are you a sports fan? Honestly, even if you’re a visitor and these aren’t your teams — taking in a game at historic Wrigley Field is a must do and if you’ve visiting during football season, Soldier Field has its own indelible history in Chicago. The Chicagoans love their sports teams and these venues are something special.

Arts & Culture? One of the Top-10 museums in the world is the Art Institute of Chicago and its Impressionist Collection is one of the largest outside of The Louvre in Paris. There’s the American Writers Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and on summer evenings you can see parts of the Riverwalk light up digitally as part of Art on theMART.

Chicago river walk view

If we haven’t enticed you yet, let’s talk about the Riverwalk? You can enjoy architectural tours via boat with several companies down the river or just stroll along Riverwalk with its many restaurants and people watch — or pick-up a selfguided tour guide at the visitor’s center which describes specific buildings and their iconic histories.

Lobby of the Palmer House in Chicago

As far as places to stay — you have your pick in a city like Chicago. We chose the Palmer House for its history, level of hospitality and the stunning lobby. Yes, the lobby! We conducted business here and spent many evenings relaxing in the lobby — gazing at the 21 individual fresco paintings that make up the expansive ceiling by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal. In 1996, this famous ceiling was restored by famed art restorer Lido Lippi who led the restoration of The Sistine Chapel. Bertha Palmer’s French heritage is evident throughout the entire lobby design, and the lobby is reminiscent of some of the finest that you’ll find in Europe and continues to be a gathering place for friends, families and business executives. It’s another Chicago Institution and is part of the Historic Hotels of America and a Chicago Landmark as well.

There’s a lot you can say about Chicago — but the bottom line is it’s one of those cities that almost guarantees a good time and summer and fall are great times of the year to go explore and experience it. Share your Chicago favorites with us — just click on the “Contact Us” tab at Let’s Go America!

Safe and Happy Travels!
Robert & Mary Carey, Hosts America’s #1 Travel Radio Show

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