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Carla Thomas′s Wishlist
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Illinois Medical District, Chicago, IL, USA
Chicago is the king of comedy, hot dogs, and extreme Midwest weather. But since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the city has been reinventing itself. Today, clever design projects (such as “Color Jam,” shown) top the list of reasons...
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111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
Just imagine having 264,000 square-feet of modern art at your disposal seven days a week. That is exactly what you have if you visit the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Above is but one example of the funky-cool exhibits that await...
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201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust. For my inaugural highlight on AFAR, I am starting with my wife's favorite quote, and a local sight in Chicago. Sometimes people feel they...
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The transit systems for most big cities run underground, but Chicago’s elevated train runs largely above ground, and its railway around the downtown area gave it the nickname “The Loop.” I wish I could have seen the first version of the L, a steam...
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Streeterville, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
The architectural boat tour of downtown Chicago is the single best way to see this city in a whole new way. From first-timers to lifers, it doesn't matter how long you've been in town, this perspective is going to be new to all. There are many...
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1616 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
The Second City has come a long way since the small cabaret theater that launched in 1959. As a sketch comedy and improvisational performance theater, the venue has been keeping people laughing for over 50 years. Situated in the historic Old Town...
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26 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
A combination of sugar and salt, sweet and savory, there's nothing like Garrett's "Chicago Mix"—a combination of caramel corn and cheese popcorn. It's the kind of thing I crave in such a way that it's a good thing I don't live in Chicago....
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11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
When the Waldorf Astoria took over the swank Elysian Hotel in 2012, it preserved the sumptuous room decor, the 14,000-square-foot spa, and the Greek Classicism–meets–French 1920s aesthetic. Located on the first 27 floors of a 60-story...
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21 E Bellevue Pl, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Thompson Chicago, housed in a contemporary high-rise in the heart of the Gold Coast luxury dining and shopping scene, was overhauled in 2013 by British designer Tara Bernerd. It offers a winning combination of modern-retro style, a...
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330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Opened in 2013 as the Hong Kong–based brand’s U.S. flagship property, the Langham, Chicago elegantly occupies the first 13 floors of the former IBM Building, a modern American landmark designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose views...
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2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
In 2011, one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, Longman & Eagle, expanded into an inn with the creation of six rooms. The owners, two of whom run the music venue Empty Bottle, built and outfitted the whole place. Each of the rooms is...
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800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
The Park Hyatt Chicago, facing ever stiffer competition from newer luxury hotel entries in the Magnificent Mile orbit, nevertheless remains a great choice for families because of the central location optimizing sightseeing and kid-heaven treats....
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1331 N Wicker Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
On a quiet residential street one block from the popular vintage shops, bars, and restaurants of Milwaukee Avenue, the Wicker Park Inn is one of the best values in Chicago, attracting an eclectic clientele of older couples, families who book the...
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1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
This hotel has changed ownership and is now the Ambassador Chicago. 

In 2011, hotelier Ian Schrager reopened the iconic but faded Ambassador East Hotel as the Public, instantly infusing Chicago's Gold Coast with some flash. Its Pump Room...
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Picnic Rd, Herod, IL 62947, USA
Get everyone outdoors and spend a day hiking, climbing and picnicking in one of Illinois’ most beautiful parks. Garden of the Gods is part of the Shawnee National Forest and has 5.5 miles of interconnected trailways meandering around beautiful...