Chicago's Miracle Miles
By Ed Salvato
Stretched along 19 miles of coastline along Lake Michigan, Chicago continues to surprise locals and visitors alike with a metropolitan smorgasbord of eye-popping architecture, internationally renowned museums, and a jumbled mix of ethnic neighborhoods begging to be explored.
The city that birthed the skyscraper is sometimes referred to as a "living museum." It boasts a collection of famous buildings by legendary architects.
The city's cultural life is rich and diverse. You?ll find some of the finest museums in the country like the Art Institute of Chicago. Jazz and blues have deep and lasting roots in Chicago and many live music venues have been around for decades. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is nationally renowned, while house music, which originated here, is an integral part of the club landscape.
Chicago's gay and lesbian population is large and highly visible. Lakeview, a.k.a. Boystown, one of two thriving gay neighborhoods in the city of Chicago, is located several miles north of the ?Loop,? the city?s downtown area. It?s on Halsted Street that you'll find the highest concentration of gay activity.
Lesbians began settling in the Swedish immigrant neighborhood of Andersonville in the late '80s, and the last decade has seen a dramatic renovation of the entire area, which is now Chicago's second gay neighborhood. Restaurants, hip boutiques, and bars abound.
Chicago's lodging options can accommodate any traveler, and even those on a modest budget can stay in the heart of the action. Most of the gay hotels are located close to the Boystown bar scene in Lakeview. Travelers seeking more luxurious options will find that the city's finest hotels are in the "The Loop," and scattered along Michigan Avenue.
In Boystown, the Hawthorne Terrace Best Western is a great choice, located just blocks from shopping, dining and nightlife. It?s much more stylish than the typical Best Western, showing the company knows who its customers are.
Another good choice for gay travelers is the collection of three boutique hotel properties known as the Neighborhood Inns of Chicago. The crown jewel of the three is The Majestic, located on a shady residential street a few minutes north of the heart of Boystown. City Suites Hotel is steps away from the Boystown strip on busy Belmont Avenue. Willows Hotel is the most European-style hotel in this group -- only a few minutes south of the heart of Boystown.
One of our favorite mainstream hotels is the famous Peninsula Chicago located along Michigan Avenue?s beautiful Magnificent Mile. It?s frequently rated as the top luxury property in the world.
The W Chicago City Center is another decadent destination. Located in the middle of the Loop, the W Chicago City Center is steps away from Sears Tower, Millennium and Grant Park, and the downtown theater district.
The San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel group offers visitors three very stylish options downtown, including the Hotel Allegro, one of downtown's hippest addresses.
Also in the Kimpton lineup, is Hotel Monaco, where unexpected amenities include "tall" rooms for, well, tall guests, accommodations for your accompanying pet, and even a goldfish companion for lonely travelers.
The most dramatic Kimpton property is the Hotel Burnham in a spectacularly renovated and historically important building, which was the direct predecessor of the modern skyscraper.