Anyone who has lived in Chicago for any period of time still calls the place home. True Chicagoans can be found across the globe, but our hearts are in one place. Even President Barack Obama says he will always be a Chicagoan, and (as if you didn’t already know), here are 15 reasons why.
We have so much more than gusts of air in the Windy City, and there’s always something familiar to do. Keep scrolling for all the reasons we will forever call Chicago home.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Our city has the best skyline
Chicago's skyline is expertly designed, and anyone who wants to build a skyscraper has to pass it by the board. It is the world's tallest skyline, hosting half of America's eight tallest buildings, including the Sears (Willis) Tower, which is the fifth tallest skyscraper in the world.
2. The air and streets are clean
People are often amazed at how clean Chicago is compared to other metro cities. New York smells like sewer and Los Angeles is known for its smog. Here, when you breathe, you get the fresh air off the lake and from the many trees planted throughout the city.
3. The Chicago River
Only the best cities have rivers running through them (think Paris and London), and Chicago's river is the best-of-the-best. It is the only river that runs backwards, and we love to dye it green for St. Patrick's day! You can even take a cruise down this stream and learn all about Chicago architecture.
4. Public transportation takes you everywhere
There aren't many cities in America where you can truly survive in without a car, but Chicago is certainly one of them. From a web of train lines, to busses that go just about everywhere, you can get to work, the store, a play, and dinner without ever worrying about parking.
5. The beach is always nearby
Since Chicago settles right along Lake Michigan, it gets just as must coastline as cities on the ocean. In fact, we have about 15 miles worth of beaches that locals love to visit. Boating, fishing, and other fun water activities are also enjoyed on the lake.
6. All the best parks are here
There are over 550 parks in the city, and two of the most stunning ones sit right next to each other in downtown. Millennium Park and Grant Park are as synonymous with Chicago as hot dogs and baseball. Even locals feel at home when they see Buckingham Fountain and, yes, even the Bean.
7. Free attractions abound
In addition to free days for Illinois citizens at many Chicago museums, the city is also home to one of the world's last free zoos. Open 365 days per year, you can see exotic wildlife without paying a penny. Many locals see the Lincoln Park Zoo as an awesome spot to spend leisure time, especially during the holidays when Zoo Lights is on display.
Need we say more? Whether you're in it for the hot dogs, cheeseburgers, Italian beef, cheese fries, or world famous chocolate cake, Portillo's is Chicago's home kitchen. New ones open on a regular basis, and yet drive-thru lines still form around the block for their incredible food.
9. Pizza is everywhere
While we are known for our deep dish varieties, Chicago is actually home to a wide range of pies, making it the pizza capital of the world. Authentic wood-fired, thin crust, deep dish, stuffed - you name it, Chicago's got it. Nothing is more comforting than biting into a Chicago pizza.
10. There's always a festival
Music and food are the main things we celebrate in this city. Concert festivals like Riot Fest and Lollapalooza, as well as tasting events like Chicago Food Truck Fest and Taste of Chicago rule the summer. They often closing down some city streets on the weekends to accommodate the crowds!
11. There's always a popular sporting event
Chicago is home to the Cubs, the White Sox, da Bears, da Bulls, and the Black Hawks, giving locals something competitive to enjoy year round. Every true Chicagoan has their own opinion about which teams are best.
12. Amusement at Navy Pier
Classic summer fun is always found at this charming boardwalk full of restaurants, games, and so much more! Chicagoans know one of the best ways to see the city is from the top of the Ferris Wheel and the pier even shoots fireworks off during the summer.
13. So many museums!
Chicago is a great place to learn about the history of our city... and the world! Locals of all ages return time and again to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, The Art Institute, and more for a diverse survey of cultures, histories, and sciences that influence our world.
14. The light tunnel at O'Hare
Nothing greets you to the city better than this underground tunnel connecting United concourses at O'Hare. Rather than a boring hallway, it was spruced up to include intriguing light displays that change color and pattern. If that's not familiar to you, seeing planes flying over head every time you look in the sky certainly is.
15. You feel at home in a crowd
Even when you're in the most tourist-populated part of the city (which is often the Bean at Millennium Park), you never feel too cramped or out of place. Chicago is a diverse city with many different kinds of people from all over the world (we have 35 million visitors each year!) who come together to make it a great place to live.
What else about Chicago will always make it feel like home? Share your thoughts and photos with us!