Chicago Festival Season is upon us. For the next 3 months, you can experience a different festival in a different neighborhood every weekend. From music to arts to BBQ, there’s a fest out there for everyone. Overwhelmed? Don’t be—we’ve got your festival fix under control with our picks below:
May 31-June 2:
Maifest (Lincoln Square)
Do-Division (Wicker Park)
Andersonville Midsommarfest (Andersonville)
Well Street Art Fest/Old Town Art Fair (Old Town)
Taste of Randolph Street (West Loop)
Pride Fest (Boystown)
Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party (West Loop)
Pride Parade (Boystown)
Wavefront Music Festival (Montrose Harbor)
Windy City Smokeout (River North)
West Fest (West Town)
Pitchfork (Union Park)
Sheffield Garden Walk (Lincoln Park)
Fiesta Del Sol (Pilsen)
Wicker Park Fest (Wicker Park)
Lollapalooza (Grant Park)
Northalsted Market Days (Boystown)
Chicago Air & Water Show (Gold Coast)
Festa Italiana (Little Village)
August 30-September 1
Jazz Fest (Millennium Park)
North Coast Music Fest (Union Park)
For dates, info and a full schedule of all the festivals visit here: http://chicago.metromix.com/stories/1839-2013-chicago-festival-guide.
Chicago’s museum campus is one of our favorite spots in Chicago and we were lucky enough to preview not one but two exciting new exhibitions this week!
Wednesday night was "Stingray Touch" at the Shedd Aquarium. Located outside on their south terrace underneath a large tent, sits a huge pool full of stingrays. Helpful trainers walk around the pool with food to lure the stingrays near you, as well as provide helpful information and answer any and all questions (Q#1: Will they bite me? Q#2: Will they sting me? A: No and No.) Though a little slimy, once they’d swam past 2 or 3 times, it went from scary to actually pretty cool. The exhibit opened today to the public and will stay open through the fall (weather permitting).
The next night we got to visit the Adler Planetarium and see their newest show, "Cosmic Wonder." Featuring the latest technology, the show takes you through the history of the universe with images so crisp and clear, you feel like you’re right there! The state-of-the-art theater at the Adler not only provides amazing images but comfortable and ample seating making for an awesome viewing experience.
For more info on both exhibits, visit their websites here: http://www.sheddaquarium.org/ and http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/.
And don’t forget we’ve always got exclusive VIP tickets to both museums available at our Front Desk! Just call 312.395.9000 for more info.
Mother’s Day is this weekend and if you’re still struggling on how to treat that marvelous matriarch in your life, we’ve got you covered. There’s no better way to pamper your mom on her special day than with a divine brunch full of tasty goodness and overflowing mimosas. Luckily, Chicago has plenty of spots for you to choose from. Here are our top five spots to treat your lovely lady to an unforgettable Mother’s Day Brunch:
- Howells & Hood—This will be the Michigan Avenue spot’s inaugural brunch and if their delicious dinner menu is any indication, their brunch will be a tasty delight. At $29/person with a live blues band and a plush setting in a historical building, H&H’s brunch will surely please Mama. 435 N. Michigan Ave, 312.262.5310
- Untitled—Our swanky speakeasy neighbor is typically a nighttime hotspot, but they’re opening their doors early to welcome Mom to a delectable brunch featuring live jazz and of course, mimosas. If you can’t make it that early, a family style dinner is available in the evening. 111 W. Kinzie, 312.880.1511
- The Chicago Firehouse—This elegant South Loop steakhouse serves up one of the biggest brunch buffets in the city. The service is always top-notch and their massive selection of brunch items will impress even the most meticulous of moms. 1401 S. Michigan Ave, 312.786.1401
- Odyssey Cruise—Enjoy gorgeous views of the skyline as you brunch on a boat. Every mother receives a rose and a complimentary glass of champagne. What’s not to love? Navy Pier, 866.305.2469
- Bistronomic—This cozy French spot in the Gold Coast serves up a tasty brunch every weekend and will be offering a $35 three-course brunch menu this Sunday for Maman. And as always, they’ll be serving $15 bottomless mimosas. 840 N. Wabash, 312.944.8400
If you’re looking for more brunch recommendations, don’t hesitate to give our Experience Designers a ring: 312.395.9000. Happy Mother’s Day!
Del Toro, a review by Karem Garcia
This epic tequila bar is located in Pilsen, one of the many eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods in Chicago. Like every gem, this bar blends in within the up-and-coming artistic community.
The décor is based in modern art and the ambiance sets the perfect mood with the sounds of Latin Jazz and authentic home-made Mexican recipes. Del Toro offers a wide range of delicious margaritas and tequila based cocktails like my ultimate favorite Pepino (3 Garcias silver, cucumber, lime juice, jalapeno, simple syrup, cointreau and chile piquin). From blancos to oak-aged Anejos like Los 3 Garcias to the flavors of South America, Portugal and even Mexico.
The tightly crafted menu will expand in the months to come, but everything from the fresh ceviche to al pastor tacos and the delicious guacamole will make your evening at Del Toro a point of return.
2133 S. Halsted
Chicago, IL 60608
Monday to Friday
5:00pm to 2:00am
5:00pm to 3:00am
Ravinia Festival 101
Ravinia is a fantastic summer concert series held outdoors in the beautiful suburb of Highland Park. Each summer beginning in June through September, Ravinia hosts a wide variety of concerts and performances by a variety of artists from all different genres—classical, jazz, rock, blues, etc. On weekends, Chicagoans flock to the festival fairgrounds using the easily accessible Metra commuter train line. The Union Pacific North line runs directly from the downtown Ogilvie Transportation Center, which is just a quick walk or cab ride from the Amalfi. (View directions here)
While you have the option to purchase actual seated tickets, most prefer to buy lawn seats. On Ravinia’s luscious and spacious lawn, set-ups range from a simple picnic basket and blanket to a catered extravaganza complete with candelabras. We prefer to keep it simple but with a few added amenities. Here’s what we recommend you bring for the perfect Ravinia experience.
- A blanket to claim your space is key. Take it a step up and purchase a waterproof nylon blanket to lay down on potentially damp or muddy grass.
- Folding chairs. We personally like the low-to-ground ones so if others are sitting on the blanket, you’re not towering over.
- Bug-repellent candle. Adds a little bit of light when the sun goes down and keeps those pesky mosquitoes away.
- An insulated bag for food and drinks. Preferably a foldable one that’s easy to carry home with you. Otherwise, a sturdy shopping bag should do the trick.
- Cups/napkins/forks/knives/spoons/bottle opener—you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to forget these things.
- Food: cheese & crackers/charcuterie/veggies/small sandwiches—keep it simple, something people can share and snack. Don’t bring too much unless you want to carry it all back to the city with you. We recommend picking up some items at the nearby Trader Joe’s or visit local establishments Pastoral and Chicago French Market (located in Ogilvie Center)
- Drinks: wine/sparkling wine/bottled water—again, keep it simple and preferably something easy to carry. Beer bottles/cans weigh more and unless you’re willing to bring a variety of mixers, bottles of alcohol aren’t worth it. By bringing 2-3 bottles of white/red/sparkling wine, you should appeal to many and they’ll be easily disposed of at night’s end.
Happy concert-going :)
This week USAToday Travel featured a cool article showcasing the “10 best neighborhoods tourists haven’t found yet” i.e., neighborhoods you have to travel more than 2-3 subway stops to visit and/or not mentioned in your souvenir shop-bought map.
Chicago’s contribution to the list was an Amalfi favorite: Wicker Park. Only a 15-minute ride from the Amalfi (via the Blue Line) the diverse, fun & eclectic neighborhood has some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, as well as some serious shopping (see: Akira).
Here are our top 5 places to check out when you visit Wicker Park:
1. Big Star – $3 whiskey & tacos, what’s not to love? Oh and did we mention their outdoor patio is one of the hottest and best spots to chill in the summertime? It’s always packed but luckily undergoing an expansion for this coming summer! 1531 N. Damen, 773.235.4039
2. Violet Hour – This swanky speakeasy is difficult to find but once you do, you’ll never forget (Hint: It’s across the street from Big Star). The chic spot is known for its’ sophisticated cocktails handcrafted by über-talented mixologists. The line may seem daunting but it’s well worth the wait.1520 N. Damen, 773.252.1500
3. Emporium Arcade Bar – Old-school arcade games and pinball machines fill the place and the bar menu features an impressive selection of craft beers and whiskeys. Buy your tokens ($1 = 4 tokens) to play favorites like Donkey Kong & Mortal Kombat. It’s BYOB so pick up some tacos from Big Star or pizza from Piece before you go. 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave, 773.697.7922
4. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria – This spacious and casual spot specializes in delicious New Haven-style pizza and also serves some of their own tasty hand-crafted brews. Check them out on Saturday night for our fave weekly event: Live Band Karaoke. 1927 W. North Ave, 773.772.4422
5. The Southern – If you guessed by the name that they specialize in Southern-style comfort food and Bourbon galore, then you were 100% right. Their brunch menu changes seasonally but is always delicious and their Mac&Cheese is one of the best in the city. 1840 W. North Ave, 312.342.1840
Happy exploring! :)
25 Degrees, a review by Chase Whitaker
One of my favorite local burger joints, 25 Degrees offers a unique twist on gourmet burgers. The first thing you’ll notice when visiting is the décor and atmosphere. Their slogan, “Bordello meets Burger Bar” stands out with a large oval bar accented with red velvet walls, chandeliers, and deep red leather stools and booths. The menu helps instill their message by offering adult milkshakes, floats, and fresh cocktails, a kickback to old soda fountain bars. A strong lineup of unique appetizers will get you off to a good start. One should definitely try the Spicy Tuna (served on tempura eggplant) or the Chili Honey Wings for a good blend of spice and sweetness. Now on to the famous burgers for you connoisseurs, you can order either chopped sirloin or turkey, cooked to perfection every time (25 Degrees is the difference in temperature between medium rare and well done), with a host of add-ons that include Portobello mushrooms, green chili, jalapeno bacon, and the classic fried egg. Your next decision is which of their amazing cheeses, the creamy burrata being my favorite, to top your creation with. All of the great food and atmosphere is emphasized through amazing service by their staff. If you join them late enough you’ll be greeted with a lively bar atmosphere accompanied by a live DJ on the weekends.
736 N. Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
Sunday through Wednesday
11:00am to 11:00pm
Thursday & Friday
11:00am to 2:00am
11:00am to 3:00am
(Image courtesy of 25 Degrees Facebook page)
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in Chicago and for good reason. With over 32,000 animals calling the aquarium home and an exciting mix of both permanent and visiting exhibits, like the currently-running Jellies, the Shedd is the perfect blend of entertainment and education.
While the Jellies are only guests for a short time, the aquarium is home to all sorts of fun and interesting animals including dolphins, penguins and sharks – oh my! Our 2 can’t miss picks when visiting the Shedd are:
1. Beluga Whales – they’re both playful and graceful, truly beautiful creatures to watch in action.
2. Grandad, the Australian Lungfish – he’s the oldest resident at the Shedd, having arrived in 1933 and can be found hanging out at the bottom of his habitat in Waters of the World.
Coming this Spring, the Shedd will unveil their newest exhibit: Stingray Touch. This exclusive hands-on exhibit not only lets you view the stingrays up close and personal, but touch and feel them as well! This limited-time engagement is currently scheduled to end in fall 2103 so start planning your Amalfi stay with us. Book a room with us and you can purchase VIP Tickets to the Shedd – either on our website here or with an Experience Designer at check-in.
For only $33, our exclusive VIP tickets offer you express priority entry to the Shedd and access to the Aquarium galleries, Wild Reef, Jellies (Stingray Touch when it opens) and the Abbott Oceanarium (Aquatic Show included if seating is available). For more information, call us at 312.395.9000.
(Thanks to the Shedd and CCTB for images and info!)
While there’s so much to see & do in Chicago, it’s our personal belief that no visit to the city is complete without a stop at Navy Pier. With rides, restaurants, shopping, boat tours (and segway and bike tours), plays and even two (!) museums, there’s something for everyone at the Pier.
If you’re visiting us between now and April 7th, be sure to print out a copy of their Spring Coupon Sheet featuring deals on the rides at Pier Park (as seen above), restaurant discounts and more! And don’t miss your opportunity to take advantage of the exclusive offer for 50% off on Dockside Boarding Admissions for Tall Ships (when you purchase online with code 82558131). Tall Ships returns to the Pier this August and having experienced it the last time the exhibit was in town, we can assure you that it is a can’t-miss summertime event! For more information about upcoming events & deals, visit Navy Pier’s Promotions Page here.
Want an added Amalfi perk? Ask our Experience Designers about Navy Pier Ferris Wheel tickets :)
(Thank you to Navy Pier for the image!)
Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest & most celebrated holidays in Chicago. For one day (usually, 3-4 days) everyone is Irish & celebrates being so. There’s parades (plural), parties, live music and more across the city.
Start Saturday the 16th off with the official Dyeing of the Chicago River (as seen above) at 10am. While you can watch it from a variety of spots, the recommended best view is from the East side of the bridge at Columbus Drive or upper & lower Wacker Drive between Columbus & Lake Shore Drive. The parade begins at 12 noon sharp & you can watch it anywhere on Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Street. For all the info you need about the Dyeing of the River & Parade, visit the official site: http://www.chicagostpatsparade.com/.
Where should you go post-parade? Get Your Green on these Amalfi-approved party spots:
- Fado - Doors open at 8am & they’ll be featuring live music all day long. $10 cover.
- John Barleycorn River North - They’ll have bagpipers, giveaways & feature Big 10 Tournament games on their many TVs. No cover.
- Timothy O’Tooles - Doors open 8am, with $6 20oz Green Beers, Beads, Bagpipers & More. No cover.
- Butch McGuire’s - This beloved Chicago pub is one of few places taking reservations & goes all out with their festive decorations.
- Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap - Enjoy their $5 “Pre-Soak” Breakfast from 8-11am & $5 Green Schlitz all day long.
Still looking for more places to celebrate the luck o’ the Irish? Call our Experience Designers for suggestions on more St Patrick’s Day parties & festivities at 312.395.9000. Sláinte!