Halloween, Part 2 – Adulthood: Halloween is forever

Little DevilAs the magic of being a child in a state of play transitions into serious adulthood, luckily the wonder of Halloween remains! Post-college is a time of change and often confusion, and that confusion can include the rock-your-world question as another Halloween rolls around: What now? Not to worry: Halloween lives!

In fact, if you’ve just come out of a college campus environment, you no doubt know now which costumes are PC and what costumes to not wear so that you won’t offend or make anybody uncomfortable or, worse, angry.

Some jobs will let — even encourage — employees to dress up and decorate, so if you’re a lover of Halloween, you can still be fulfilled — well, sort of. Unless you work at a place that likes to party down – and there aren’t many of those since the 80’s — it’s not nearly as exciting as going to a cut-loose house or club party. There’s a prevailing underlying sense that at Halloween-time, anything goes. But not in the workplace, where Halloween and the office form a rather uneasy alliance.

If you find that you run with folks who like to Halloween, you may be so lucky as to be invited to a “costumes required” house party. You could even throw a party yourself! There are plenty of party stores all over the Chicago area that cater to Halloween’ers, more than ever in recent years. Decorating for Halloween can be loaded with laughs as you creatively transform your home into a haunted house.

If you’re not invited to a house party, don’t want to host one but still want to do Halloween, fortunately for you, Halloween has become wildly popular with adults over the years and you can bet every style of venue is having some type of Halloween celebration, whether it be a small bar or a gigantic club with elaborate decorations and costume contests offering exorbitant prizes.

Halloween in your 30’s and 40’s may pose challenges you hadn’t anticipated. Friends weave in and out of your life and some of them “settle down.” Stay the course: If you want to be a part of it all every year at Halloween, do it! Don’t let age stop you – not from Halloween or anything, in fact! There are a myriad of Halloween-inspired events to attend.

10647139_10205154814300764_4413997140808736330_nIf you decide you don’t want to go through the trouble of costuming yourself or you’ve never been into it, there’s still much to do in keeping with the spirit of the season. Try a themed concert, theater production, murder mystery dinner (at the Bennett Curtis House), ghostly tours (via several various modes of transportation at this website), cemetery tour, magic show, haunted house, pumpkin patch, , join a Halloween parade with a bunch of zombies doing the Thriller dance…the venues of Halloween entertainment are endless and highly-imaginative. Search Facebook events — maybe you were invited to some! Check out Metromix or any good source of what’s going on in your area.

Whether you love Halloween or you simply endure it as the years go by, this writer wishes you and yours a very happy Halloween season!

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Halloween, Part 1 – Early life: To Halloween or not to Halloween

Child Stars-HalloweenThere are distinct transitions throughout a lifetime of Halloweens. Your parents may have dressed you up for Halloween as a baby and took oodles of pictures and forwarded them to all the friends and relatives if they were into it.

As a young’n, you may have seen them going out to costume parties. Perhaps you were eager to come of age and join the flock of trick-or-treat’ers who thronged the streets and came to your door one wacky night a year. Or maybe you wanted to grow up and be like your parents and disappear into the night looking glamorous in a cat suit or as a handsome superhero.

Unless your religion prohibited you, as a child you no doubt dressed in costume at school on Halloween and later went trick-or-treating, no matter how cold and dark it was. Chicagoans grow up knowing what it’s like to have to hide a great costume beneath outerwear in chilly weather: Somehow, you must tie the coat and outdoor accessories in with your costume, if possible. This is where it’s good to have a wardrobe of many different styles of coats and jackets, scarves, gloves and hats, and many Chicagoans do.

Then come the teenage years and maybe you still look forward to donning a costume for Halloween, depending on whether you wish to hang on to childhood traditions or the other extreme: You feel you are now “too cool” to “play dress up.”

A ploy for teens who still want to dress in costume and legitimize it, if deemed necessary: Take your young siblings out trick-or-treating and dress in costume too. Or answer the door in costume when trick-or-treat’ers arrive. Obviously this can be done at any age!

College is party-time for many, and luckily, this generally reintroduces Halloween to everyone. Those who have continued to do costumes annually have likely developed some good costuming techniques over the years and may even be able to recycle past costumes into something really fancy or cool. What a fun opportunity to show off your creativity!

Others still won’t want to wear costumes, and there are those inscrutable few who won’t, ever, throughout their whole lives. That may be you, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that; To each his or her own. There is peer pressure, however, to costume up for such events, and quite possibly, you’ve experienced this.

An easy costume for those who truly aren’t into it is to get a mask (which will most likely come off about 15 minutes into the party anyway, even if it did cost upwards of $100). Usually guys like to buy masks while their gals are shopping for their costumes. It’s easy, and there are some really amazing masks. To find out why masks don’t usually have much stamina at a party, try eating or drinking while wearing one. And if the mask is rubber, it’s like having your head in its own private steam room and can get mighty hot and uncomfortable.

Catwoman
My mother as a cat

Another trick: On your way to a party, stop by a Walgreens, CVS, Target or some store of like genre: There are almost certain to be last-minute costume props, albeit picked over. Use your imagination, and you can find something interesting for the party. If not a prop, then perhaps a toy, like a squirt gun. Or put on some sparkly makeup and a wig.

Halloween is full of fascination, fun and laughs, whether people-watching or attempting to dance the robot in an actual robot suit. Or kissing that mysterious masked someone — who are they really? Halloween is a magical time.

Can’t bring yourself to meditate? Mini-meditate!

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Author’s Note: I originally published the following article in 2015.

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Chicago Ideas Week presented what everybody needs — especially anyone who exists in a noisy environment: A class on how to meditate amidst distractions. It was held outdoors so participants could truly practice this concept. The class was billed thusly: “…learn how to use your surroundings – even the bustling Michigan Ave. – to become grounded and meditative.” And that is exactly what we did – even more so than expected, actually, because it was surprisingly chilly with a cruel wind that just wouldn’t stop. Talk about learning how to meditate in challenging conditions!

For those of us who dwell in the city, the distractions of traffic and people passing by are so common anyhow, we barely notice them. But sitting in an open plaza exposed to a wind that rumbled between the buildings with the sound of rolling thunder, trying to keep our hoods from blowing off and our noses from running — now that was distracting.

But part of a meditative philosophy is to accept what is – embrace it even – and not just cope but make the best of it. And so if we could meditate and do our minds and bodies some good in this setting, we could probably succeed at this just about anywhere.

Our meditative lecture and exercises were led by Jacquelyn Brennan and Kelly Moore of MindFuel Wellness, a company that organizations hire to come in and counsel their employees on all things wellness. We managed to do three meditative sessions throughout the event: A two-minute meditation for openers, a five-minute mid-class meditation and ended with a full ten-minute meditation.

We also did some light stretching; it felt good to move around a bit and get the blood circulating in hopes of generating some body heat. We learned about breathing, anatomy and posture and how these interrelate to meditation and affect our well-being in day-to-day living. Despite the cold weather, concentrating on one’s breathing took us inside our bodies, where it was warm; and as long as we continued to focus inward, this was ideal.

Kelly opened with mention of just a few of the benefits of meditation: A decreases stress and high blood pressure as well as mental clarity, good immunity and whole-self well-being. Jacquelyn introduced the concept that breathing properly is key, not just while meditating but in our lives at every moment. Today’s civilization creates a fast-paced lifestyle and we tend to react to this with shallow and sometimes even rapid breathing. Breathing like this is not good for the body or ones hope for peace of mind. An interesting bit of trivia was mentioned: Navy Seals snipers slow down their breath for accuracy.

We may be cutting down on our capacity to breathe properly by 30 percent with poor posture. Ideally, we need 60 to 70 percent of our lung capacity to breathe deeply and all the way down to our core. Slouching can reduce your lunch capacity by 30 to 40 percent. When it comes to posture, how is your forward head position, also known as FHP? For every inch your head is forward, you add 10 extra pounds of stress on your neck joint and back and this stress spreads out to impact the whole body. Mind your posture!

Here are some tips to meditate well: Focus on breath so your mind won’t wander. Find a yoga pose you like and sit comfortably. Yoga poses are actually designed for comfortable sitting. You can create meditation at any point during your day. Try to put yourself in a position where you won’t be disturbed – but don’t make the lack of a quiet place an excuse not to meditate. Even five minutes of deep breathing, really concentrating solely on your breath as much as possible, is a form of meditation. Heck even a one-minute meditation can be helpful. And there are several ways to meditate. Do what works for you.

Now you know a bit more about meditation and that it is important and distinctly possible to incorporate at least mini-meditation – anytime and anywhere – into your life – you have no excuse: Just do it – every day!

And I highly recommend being present at Chicago Ideas Week, which happens every autumn, to enhance your life immeasurably.

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Better nutrition now can make you and your future generations healthier

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Author’s Note: Below is a reprint of the article I did for Chicago Ideas in 2015.

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Among its many features, Chicago Ideas Week presented “Food as Medicine,” a panel discussion moderated by Monica Eng, producer at WBEZ and featuring Geeta Maker-Clark, M.D., clinical assistant professor & coordinator of Integrated Medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Rebecca Katz, chef, author of several cookbooks and founder of the Healing Kitchens Institute and Michel Nischan, chef and founder & CEO of Wholesome Wave.

Author’s disclaimers:

  • Almost nothing in the article is verbatim, but rather, paraphrased per the author’s take on what was said.
  • Whereas each panelist responded to all the questions, what stood out most to the author is what was included in this article, although each participant contributed loads of fascinating nutritional information.
  • Ideas put forth in this article are not necessarily presented in the order in which they were discussed but were organized for cohesiveness.

Eng opened with a heavy statement: The #1 cause of death is the quality [or lack thereof] of ones diet.

Maker-Clark confirmed that food is a most powerful drug. We take it every day, several times a day. She added that a healthful diet can improve or even prevent any chronic disease.

There’s a science called nutrigenomics: Food alters the way our genes are expressed. We are born with a genetic map. Stress, toxins and food affect this. We don’t have much control over the toxins in the environment; we can learn to cope with stress, but it’s a constant part of life. Food is the variable over which we have the most control. You can change your gene expression by the way you eat and live your life.

Know yourself: What are you most prone to? How can you eat in a way to optimize who you are? She recommends if you want a doctor to help with this, turn to one who practices functional medicine or integrative medicine. Eng cited this is also known as “Oriental medicine.”

We all have a genetic predisposition toward certain diseases or ailments. Food can act like a switch that either flips on the DNA in our bodies that triggers those diseases or stops us from ever getting those diseases. If you don’t get a disease to which you are genetically vulnerable, you start to create a different gene pool for future generations in your family so that they will no longer vulnerable to those diseases anymore.

3Eng asked: How is it that we have medical schools that don’t teach nutrition?

Maker-Clark revealed that, having been through medical school herself, although doctors are taught very comprehensively about the human body and related topics, school curriculums only briefly touch on just the rudimentary basics of nutrition. In fact, nutrition has never really been considered part of a doctor’s business. But now, patients are asking doctors nutritional questions, and many doctors don’t know the answers and have to turn to “Dr. Google” themselves.

In the culture in which she was raised, even children grow up learning that foods can have medicinal properties. In her own practice, she started to realize at a certain point in her career that she was simply becoming a “medication manager” and wanted to share yoga, stress reduction and healthful eating. Thus, she has made it her mission to bring culinary medicine to medical schools where she teaches nutrition to a class by cooking and eating together.

Eng asked: How did we (the U.S.) get where we are today regarding food?

Nischan responded it likely started when we needed to move armies of stomachs; food technology strived for efficiency. For instance, convenience foods can travel farther better and withstand extreme conditions.

Also, modifications to foods were made with the greater good in mind: In an attempt to feed the world, there’s been a striving to make food more available and more affordable.

Hippies started the health food trend, partly as a rebellion against “the man” but also because they didn’t want any chemicals in their food. But this has gone too far with salt, sugar and other seasonings having been vilified.

The public school systems are now trying to feed children healthier diets, but they’re overcooking it and leaving out the herbs and spices that would make the food taste good. This is non-ideal, as children’s taste buds are very sensitive to bitter foods.

4Eng mentioned: “Bringing the yum.”

Katz cited she is all about “the power of yum” and for good reason: If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t eat it, simple as that. Some people see salt and sugar and fat as major bad guys to be eschewed entirely. But a pinch of sea salt, the use of olive oil and, yes, even a bit of natural sugar can make an otherwise bland and boring dish, that’s also good for you, palatable. She is also big on lemon as a flavoring and lemon zest. Herbs and spices can be used to build flavor. Food should not taste like “hippie gruel.”

Maker-Clark agreed it is key that food be fun and pleasurable. She says she has a cartoon in her office portraying someone who says, “I lost 30 pounds on the reduced joy diet.”

Eng asked what each of the panelists’ favorite recipes were. Maker-Clark said hers is roasted miso tahini cauliflower. Katz makes something she calls “the everything drizzle.” Nischan’s favorite is scrambled eggs with roasted garlic, chopped kale stems and shallots.

Eng posed: Which diet is the best, most healthful? There are so many out there right now.

The panel unanimously agreed diet is a very individual thing – there is no “one size fits all” – but one thing is for certain: Plants are where it’s at. Maker-Clark recommended lots of vegetables in all different colors. Nischan advised avoid highly processed carbs, especially high-fructose corn syrup and packets of “cheese powder” passed off as a dairy product.

One needs to listen to and be in touch with ones own body: What makes your body feel good – or not? Perhaps try the Aruvedic approach.

Audience Q: How we can overcome “food insecurity”? (This term applies to those who cannot afford healthful foods, which are often far more pricey than junk food). Maker-Clark said she feels there’s validity in frozen and canned goods, which are less expensive than fresh foods.

Audience Q: How to quit a sugar addiction? Maker-Clark answered it takes time, one step at a time. Try to replace refined sugar with a sweet vegetable — i.e., maple syrup on a sweet potato. Nischan said turn to your family, community and a support group for assistance for a sugar addiction or any type of addiction.

And that wrapped up another Chicago Ideas Week event packed with great information and inspiration for us to live better lives.

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Chicago Ideas Week: Create historic “you are beautiful” art with Matthew Hoffman

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Author’s Note: Below is a reprint of the article I did in October 2015 when Chicago Ideas offered me a press pass to attend events, and I covered three including one by Matthew Hoffman, the “you are beautiful” guy. This year, he is doing another CIW event – and this time, you can join him in creating a mural and be part of this uplifting world movement!

1-Love

This past week, Chicago Ideas Week brought to us artist-in-residence Matthew Hoffman to talk about his art. You’ve likely seen his art around town or elsewhere, and you may be familiar with his “you are beautiful” initiative.

An initial impression of Matthew is that he’s mellow though friendly and not the least bit pretentious despite his fame. He has a rather quiet — even serious — demeanor. (Perhaps he was thinking of what he would do next to uplift this troubled world.) The first thing Matthew wanted to relay about himself were his three motivations for doing his art:

o       To stimulate conversation
o       To deliver positive messages
o       That it’s important to put yourself out there in the world

Matthew shared that as a youngster he enjoyed tinkering and making things. Eventually he got his degree in graphic arts. He moved to Chicago in 2002 and worked at a PR firm for many years until he was part of a big layoff. Losing one’s job can be devastating, but he decided “it’s all good” and started tinkering again.

He focused on outdoor placement of art where anyone can see it. He’s never been in trouble with the law though he admits he has probably “taken liberties.” He says writing on things you’re not supposed to isn’t necessarily considered right, but people are going to do it anyhow so why not post positive messages.

3-Crowd SceneIn 2003, he opened a P.O. Box so people could order stickers. Now they’re available online. In fact, now there are over 2 million stickers in 81 languages on all 7 continents, making it a global movement. He’s been doing this for 13 years, and what he does is spread mainly by word-of-mouth. He is able to support himself by his art and in fact employs one person and is about to hire another.

His very first “you are beautiful’ installation was comprised of refrigerator magnets and didn’t even have all the letters. But it garnered positive attention none-the-less. His next “you are beautiful” installation quickly disappeared. Someone eventually emailed him to admit they had it on their living room wall and they wouldn’t give it back. He learned from that and started making the letters bigger; they’re now 8’ x 8’.

Although he started small, now he does large projects that are requisitioned. Planning starts months ahead. The letters are laser cut; the work is very intensive, most projects involving thousands of pieces. The projects are done by Matthew, sometimes in concert with other artists. But you will also see ‘you are beautiful” done by others. When people started emulating him, he kept an open mind about it. His famous sayings are not copyrighted; they’re “for the community,” and there are now “you are beautiful” installations all over the world.

One Sunday morning, he did a fence piece with Styrofoam cups between his apartment and his studio, where he could see it as he rode his bike back and forth. Someone changed the word ‘beautiful’ to ‘bad.’ His piece changed continually. He noted someone even added more cups. The message changed from positive to negative and back to positive, every other time, till it eventually disappeared.

In an underpass, he did a large “you are beautiful” on which people added tags. To cover those up, the city repainted it a drab beige. Next, someone painted it bright orange. To this day, people are still helping to preserve it.

In 2004, some folks in San Francisco used party streamers and spelled out “you are beautiful” on an overpass, which made the front page of the local newspaper. A girl in grade school slipped “you are beautiful” messages into everyone’s lockers before school. The message is also being shared at senior centers. At one point, an art gallery did a “you are beautiful” showing.

Some of Matthew’s other famous sayings from which he creates artwork are “love” and “nice to be important to be nice.” When he did his premiere “everyone makes mistakes” piece, he describes it as “a massive mistake” which turned out to be two times too big and unable to stand on its own.

2-Anything is PossibleIt’s not unusual for folks to help him spread the word: One early Sunday morning, several of his friends hiked around the city with letters that read “anything is possible.” He did a “go for it” for the historic Pullman district in Chicago where people from the community assisted; he likened it to a “barn raising.” It was done in a large facility, and cohorts walked two blocks on foot carrying big pieces to the installation site. It was meant to be temporary, but it’s still there.

What’s next for Matthew? He says he and his team will go all over the city. Plans include installations in Englewood, Roscoe Village, Lawndale. He agreed with someone who said it would be a good idea to share his positive messages in high-crime areas. “You are beautiful” is a beautiful idea spreading out and making the world a more beautiful place. Thank you, Matthew.

And thanks to Chicago Ideas and its sponsors for inviting Matthew Hoffman to share his stories along with an eye-popping slideshow presentation. During one exciting don’t-miss-it week every autumn, Chicago Ideas presents all kinds of fascinating speakers and hands-on events. Plan on it every year. The surest way of doing this is to become a member.

And always know this: You are beautiful!

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Back to School with Chicago Ideas Week

I don’t know about you, but every autumn, a nostalgic back-to-school feeling takes hold of me. We’ve been trained most of our lives that fall is the time to return to our studies. The pain of leaving summer behind is modified for me by a driving desire to learn and get-things-done attitude that infuses me and adds a different dimension and even deeper meaning to life. I’m guessing we all feel this to varying degrees.

A change so drastic as warm weather turning chilly and darkness replacing light feels like a different world and calls for a change in attitude and lifestyle. It’s time to dress for the weather, donning fall fashions, and seek out something new to do. Don’t simply settle for a seasons-long period of hibernation, because that will soon pale after a scintillating summertime of outdoor enjoyment and will quickly grow old way before the really cold weather hits. Make October count and enrich your life with something different: Chicago Ideas Week!

Chicago Ideas Week starts October 16 and runs through October 26. In case you think Chicago Ideas Week is just sitting in an auditorium listening to speakers, yes, there is some of that — but there’s so much more including hands-on activities that you may not have ever done or ever thought you’d get the chance to try. See the list below, complete with links leading right to the Chicago Ideas Week site to learn more about these opportunities and sign up.

The presentations sometimes featuring one speaker, but more often, there’s a panel of experts. Lectures are sometimes interactive, followed by Q&A time, and some host post-talk networking opportunities.

Here’s just a smattering of the wide variety of what awaits you during Chicago Ideas Week:

ON STAGE

Political, successful entrepreneur, modern love (and friendship), Chicago activism, race topics, what’s it all about, protecting yourself from hackers, probing the unknown, the economy (of China).

HANDS-ON

See the Blue Man Group without their makeup; interact with them and they’ll teach you a few of their famous tricks.

A photographer will show you how to take phenomenal pictures from high places (meets atop the John Hancock Center).

Smart dating for the 21st century.

Heal with yoga.

Build a bike.

Cook up something at the Chopping Block.

If you’re a composer, learn how to make money on your songs.

Create a mural side by side with Matthew Hoffman, the guy who started “You are Beautiful.”

Doodling for improved note taking; hands-on learning.

Be a DJ; create content for on-air use; record a commercial that will be read on air and get feecdback from DJs.

FIELD TRIPS

Tour the new Wintrust arena, watch the Blue Demons practice and try your skills on the court.

Something novel for city slickers: Visit a farm and harvest some food, learn about using food as medicine and create a raw meal from food you’ve picked.

Shedd Aquarium: Learn about the special waters these creatures live in.

Field Museum: A behind-the-scenes look at the “Specimens” exhibit.

Argonne National Laboratory: Learn all about a new, ecologically useful innovation.

CIW sidewalk sign-cropt

With Chicago Ideas Week about a week out, get busy accessing those links so you can be a part of it all. Tickets go fast; fortunately, some new events are being added, but jump on this.

Events are reasonably priced: Most tickets are $15. Some sessions are sold out, some are for members only, but several fun and fascinating experiences remain available to anyone, thanks to Chicago Ideas Week’s members, partners and sponsors. Do consider becoming a member – The Curiosity Level is reasonably priced, and then you’ll get discounts on tickets, be privy to members-only events and enjoy other benefits.

You may notice that some of the events are during normal business hours. If feasible, consider requesting a long lunch break or taking a half day off. Not only is it stimulating and refreshing to break away from mundane existence, at Chicago Ideas Week, there’s also the opportunity to expand your mind and try new things: Make this your most interesting October ever!

Autumn in Chicago: Splendid season for an architectural riverboat tour

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Once summer has slipped into fall and all the excitement of free outdoor music and other festivals are over, Chicagoans are left with the question: What will I do with myself now? I’d like to suggest a Chicago River cruise paired with a meal, possibly outdoors, because this is still a lovely time of year and often very temperate.

You can catch a Chicago riverboat right at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive which is also a hot spot with lots of shopping and great places to eat just steps away. Your indoor or outdoor dining can be accompanied by gorgeous river and city views.

Even if you’re a native Chicagoan, these educational riverboat cruises are highly recommended. New buildings are erected and old ones are renovated, making for fascinating new facts. Any true lover of Chicago will enjoy one of these tours. Plus it’s a great way to show off our dazzling city to out-of-town guests.

ARCHITECTURAL RIVER CRUISES (at Michigan and Wacker):

Chicago’s First Lady (operated by the Chicago Architecture Foundation)

Mercury Cruiseline

Wendella

NEARBY DINING OPTIONS:
There are many, including fast food places too numerous to mention. There are also several seasonal spots right on the Chicago Riverwalk. Aside from those, here’s a varied selection of regular restaurants, depending what you’re in the mood for:

Billy Goat Tavern (the original)
(Below street level, just under Michigan Avenue and right off Wacker Drive)
Billy Goat Tavern offers consistently delicious burgers and fast service served right along with fascinating tidbits of Chicago history, mostly in relation to the Cubs baseball team. Obviously this place is famous (thanks to an unforgettable “Saturday Night Live” skit) and this coupled with a burgeoning lunch crowd can make it challenging to secure seats during the lunch hour. If you go with others, one of you should scout for and save a table for the rest.

Chuck’s or Mr. Brown’s Lounge (both in the Hard Rock Hotel)
(230 North Michigan, one block south of Wacker)
Chuck’s is very elegant, while Mr. Brown’s Lounge is very casual. Take your pick.

Dick’s Last Resort
(Marina Towers, State & Wacker)
Not a fancy joint, but their crab legs are oh-so-yummy. That’s their specialty, but there is a large menu from which to choose – and they are right on the Chicago River!

Emerald Loop
(Corner of Wabash & Wacker, one block west of Michigan)
This is a big, hopping fast-paced place with a huge menu and quality food.

Great Street Restaurant or Raised (both at the Renaissance Hotel)
(Corner of State & Wacker, two blocks west of Michigan)
Great Street has fine food, a huge bar and with exceptional river and city views. Raised, which refers to itself as “an urban rooftop bar” but also serves food, is extremely popular: It’s perched outside with an exciting view.

Hoyt’s (in Hotel 71)
(71 East Wacker, 1/2 block from Michigan)
Big and open and right on the river with spectacular river views. They have some fun drinks.

Morton’s The Steakhouse
(On Wacker just east of Michigan)
This is one of the premiere places for good steak and seafood as well.

Sixteen (in Trump Tower)
(One block northwest of Wacker & Michigan)
This restaurant is super elegant with prices to match. It has great food and service plus an awesome view, looking right out at the clock tower of the Wrigley Building.

Smith & Wollensky
(318 North State, State & Wacker)
This is not the first time I’ve written and recommended this restaurant: It’s a classy dining spot with excellent food and top notch service. Right on the river with choice of indoors or outdoor patio seating and two levels, this popular spot draws a crowd. The upper level is bustling; the lower level, a bit slower-paced.

Sweetwater Tavern & Grille
(225 North Michigan, one block south of Wacker)
They have a huge outdoor patio, part of which is even shielded from rain. The servers are quick and sharp and courteous, and the restaurant lavishes generous portions of tasty food and drink.

The Purple Pig
(500 North Michigan)
Execs and their clients dine here frequently. Also, the outdoor patio makes for great people watching along the Mag Mile. The menu is eclectic, though as the name implies, they specialize in meats, especially pork.

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Whether you live in Chicago or decide to visit, enjoy a day along the Chicago River while temperate weather lasts!

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