Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Summer 2023

Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour brought me to the Midwest, but the city vibes kept me entertained and engaged on my three day weekend getaway.  This itinerary will spark your wanderlust to try a new restaurant, tour a historic site or simply enjoy the everyday motions of the city.  Get ready to learn, see and do all that Chicago has to offer.



  • Canopy by Hilton – Chicago Central Loop:  Modern aesthetics with historic charm is the best way to explain this Hilton property that is located in the Central Loop district of Chicago.  Easily within walking distance to the Magnificent Mile and State Street.  I loved how efficient the room was by utilizing every inch to be functional. Such as the sliding door that separated the entrance and bathroom, the massive windows that allowed you to enjoy uninterrupted cityscape views that are accompanied with old-school glam vibes.  Gone are the ice buckets and in its place are glass bottles that allow you to get water at refill stations located in the hallway.  It’s rare that I feel comfortable in a hotel and this establishment had me totally at ease.  

Munch Tip:  Loyalty programs have their privileges.  I highly recommend that you join the Hilton Honors program because you could be eligible for perks like early check ins, room upgrades or discounted room rates.




  • Chicago Mahogany Tours:  Looking for a local experience filled with black history?  Chicago Mahogany Tours is your one place where you should definitely check out before you leave the city.  This small black owned business offers six different tours that touch on the neighborhoods where black people lived, worked and played.  I took the North Lawndale tour that was focused on how the neighborhood transitioned from predominantly Czech descendant populated area and changed to a predominately African American population during the Great Migration in the 1950’s.  The bust tour took my group through several areas of the neighborhood, such as the now closed Sears & Roebuck campus that was the location where the first magazine was printed.  The owner and operator, Dilla, seasons his tour with personal stories to give you a better understanding of the city, at the same time showing his love for his hometown.   The highlight of the tour was visiting the apartment complex that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. lived at for a year during the civil rights campaign.  I had no idea that he resided in Chicago for such a long period of time.  The purpose for his residency was to prove how poor the living conditions were in this part of Chicago.  His presence and activism was the foundational work that was required in creation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  The act is still prevalent today ensuring that people are not discriminated against because of their race or economic status when trying to rent or buy a home.  The tours predominately run on the weekend and are priced from $45 to $50.  All reservations can be made on their website.  

Munch Tip:  Take a souvenir home from your tour by purchasing one Chicago Mahogany’s cool t-shirts priced at $20. 




  • Pullman National Historical Park:  This area of Chicago has the distinct honor of being the only National Park in the state of Illinois.  I was drawn to visit the park to collect a stamp to add to my National Park’s passport book and to learn more about the African American porters that made Pullman a household name associated with luxury travel. Known as a business mastermind, George Pullman leveraged his family’s construction business and the knowledge he obtained from working there to fund and create a luxury railroad car manufacturing business that evolved into an enterprise that was located on a massive self sustaining campus.  Company employees had the opportunity to rent homes with indoor plumbing, shop at a commissary and have access to medical care without leaving the compound.  A great idea in theory, Pullman’s ambition turned into greed, where he began to nickel and dime his employees for every service they used, since he was the owner and operator for every business that was located on the campus.   The exhibit in the visitor center walks you through the formation of the company and provides you with a detailed explanation of the workers strike that crumpled the company and the prestige that was associated with the Pullman name.  The government found the company had violated labor laws and classified it as a monopoly.  A judgment was given to the Pullman company that directed them to sell all their land holding properties which ironically brought the company back to its start of just focusing on manufacturing rail cars.  Today, the Pullman campus is being preserved by the National Park Service and there are several sites you can see that are surrounded by the main building.  It is free to enter the museum and taking pictures is highly encouraged.  

Munch Tip:  The museum is outside of the downtown city limits of Chicago.  So if you drive, there is plenty of free parking.  Taking a rideshare service, be prepared to pay a hefty price. 




  • Starbucks Reserve:  I have officially been to two Starbucks Reserve in the United States.  This five story coffee paradise takes you on a journey to how coffee is sourced from Colombia and Rwanda and run through the Starbucks roasting process.  As you venture through the building, the stunning spiral escalator brings you to the second floor where you are introduced to a coffee science lab.  Scanning the QR code brings up the menu with one of a kind drinks, like the Oleato that you can only get at the Starbucks Reserve.  When it comes to the food, artisanal crafted pizzas and sandwiches are available for purchase and are large enough to keep you full for the rest of the day. The fourth floor of the store is designated for adults 21 and older.  This is where you can order those very popular espresso martinis.  I ordered the espresso flight which came with three cocktails that packed a punch.  My favorite of the cocktails was the orange infused drink that had sweet notes and a strong citrus flavor.  FYI, you can pay for your cocktails with your Starbucks card, but the downside is that you will not receive any points for your purchase.

Munch Tip:  Head to the patio on the fifth floor to get a really great view of Michigan Avenue while you enjoy your specialty cup of coffee.




  • Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel:  Who knew that that brownie was invented in Chicago?  Thanks to my tour guide on the Mahogany Tours bringing this to my attention, I knew that I could not leave the Windy City without getting my hands on this sweet treat.  Created in 1893, it was a request from the owner, Bertha Palmer to have her pastry chef come up with a dessert that was easy to transport and could be sold to women who were attending the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.   The treats ended up becoming so popular that in 1898 it was featured in the Sears catalog.  Brownies are available for purchase in the hotel Lockwood Express Grab & Go market store for $8.  

Munch Tip: On National Brownie Day (December 8th) this yummy morsel will be turning 130 years old.  The best way to celebrate would be to use the original recipe to make your own sheet of brownies at home. 


  • Wicker Park:  This trendy neighborhood is immersed with vintage stores and intriguing restaurants that fit any price point.  During my visit, the Golden Girls Kitchen experience was in town and brought the 1980’s sitcom to life by recreating the iconic Rusty Anchor bar and the kitchen where the women gathered to eat cheesecake.  I bought a ticket for the Sunday Drag Brunch, where I go to see Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose sing for their life.  Included in the ticket price was an entree and dessert.  I ordered the Sophia meat lasagna and the chocolate cheesecake. It was so much fun singing along to the theme song with our favorite ladies, that I didn’t mind that the food was mediocre at best.  After the brunch, I did some window shopping to walk off the hearty meal and couldn’t help but stop at Transit Tees to pick up a couple of Chicago centric souvenirs. 

Munch Tip:  The neighborhood is easily accessible by the Chicago Transit Authority and is located on the blue line.



  • Lexington Betty Smokehouse:  When a restaurant is touted as the best of the city, I always make it a point to try it. The black owned restaurant is the brainchild of celebrity chef, Dominique Leach and her wife, Tanisha.  Chef Dominique  appeared on the Food Network’s Chopped and recently won top honors on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl.  The restaurant is named after the chef’s grandmother and her beloved hometown of Lexington, Mississippi. The recipes that are executed in the restaurant are an homage to what Chef Dominique experienced in her grandmother’s kitchen.  As is normally the case, my wide eyes matched the size of my stomach, so I ordered several dishes to compensate for my greediness.  First up was the pulled pork platter with a side of collard greens and a huge cornbread muffin.  The pulled pork came dressed with the chef’s signature BBQ sauce which I found to be sweet with a hint of smokiness.  The collard greens were a generous portion and were a perfect compliment to the meat.  Second up was the wagyu hotdog, which was made in the Chicago style with yellow mustard, pepper pickle relish, chopped white onions, tomatoes and a dill pickle.  And to my surprise it came with a side of seasoned fries.  The prices for both of my meals were reasonably priced for the portion sizes.  

Munch Tip:  The restaurant is located down the street from the Pullman National Historic Park and is within easy walking distance if you did not drive to that side of town.  When you see the picture of the two Pullman porters on the front door, you know that you are in the right place.


  • Giordano’s:  If there is one dish you have to try when visiting Chicago, it’s the deep dish pizza.  The behemoth pie can be a daunting task to conquer, but it’s worth every bite.  Jammed with sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings the pizza requires you to use a knife and fork to enjoy every bite.  There are several locations throughout the city, so there is no excuse to not try this iconic pizza.  

Munch Tip:  Is the small pizza still too big?  Though it’s not listed on the menu, the restaurant offers an individual pizza that is only 6 inches big. 


  • Soldier Field:  Known for being the home of the football team the Chicago Bears, I came to the stadium to attend Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour which is undoubtedly one of the hottest tickets in 2023.   The stadium has been a part of the Chicago landscape since the early 1900’s.  The venue’s moniker was given in tribute to the Soldiers who had died in World War I.  When you enter the main entrance of the stadium there is a tribute to Gold Star Families who have lost their military loved ones during combat.  This is a huge stadium and it literally took me ten minutes to get to the main gate.  Be advised that flats are the optimal shoes to wear.  Overall, I enjoyed my three hour experience with Beyoncé, it was worth every penny that I spent.

Munch Tip:  Definitely take public transportation when you come to the stadium.  The orange, green and red lines on the CTA all have stops for Soldier Field. 





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