Concierge Preferred Concierge Preferred

Concierge Tips for Exploring Chicago
You are here: Chicago Travel Blog

VIDEO: HotTix, SummerDance, & Farmers Markets

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by

Sheila Garg, concierge at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top three picks for things to do around town.

  • From the iconic Steppenwolf and Goodman theaters to Chicago’s non-equity storefront companies, HotTix makes the city’s myriad productions accessible through half-price tickets for same day and future performances.
  • Chicago SummerDance features free dance lessons in Grant Park, followed by awesome live bands and an open dance floor every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the summer. This weekend features Brazilian rhythms and a House music night, both of which are sure to get you moving.
  • We may be a big city, but we’re still the Midwest and we’re surrounded by great farms. Farmers Markets are held all over the city. From the Green City Market to the four downtown staples, here’s a look at Sheila’s favorite farm-fresh finds.

Looking for additional ideas from Sheila? Check out her feature story on how to cycle through the Second City and what stops to hit along the way.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Beer Camp Across America Rolls Through Chicago

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by


Calling it the “largest craft beer celebration in history,” Sierra Nevada kicked off their Beer Camp Across America tour last Saturday and is bringing the hops to Navy Pier on Sunday, July 27. 

In addition to their 12 collaboration brewers, Sierra Nevada has invited every craft brewer in nine Midwest states ranging from Wisconsin to Kentucky, tallying up to over 600 brewers for their Midwest addition. Chicago is the 4th city of seven that will be hosting the tour, which started in Chico, California, and will end at its final destination in Mills River, North Carolina. Beer Camp Across America has over 2,800 brewers involved nationally, and aims to be the perfect space to bring together brewers and the fans that have helped them thrive.

Craft beer enthusiasts, or anyone 21 and up looking to try new things this Sunday, can purchase tickets online for the festival at Navy Pier for $65. Tickets include tons of beer to try, a commemorative tasting glass, and live music. In addition, for those responsible types in your group, a discounted “designated driver” ticket is also available for $30, which allows entry into the festival, but does not give access to any of the beer tasting. All ID’s are checked at the door. 

If while at the festival on the Pier you begin to wish the fun would never end, grab some friends, load up the truck and hit the road with Sierra Nevada’s season festival pass for $400. Yes, three of the seven festivals will have already ended, but there are still three to go!

Proceeds of Beer Camp Across America benefit the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild to keep craft brewing alive and well. For more information on the festival and to purchase tickets visit:


Tags: , , ,

No Comments

Frank Lloyd Wright Trust presents “Wright Around Oak Park”

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by

afterlight (2)

Frank Lloyd Wright left his architectural mark all over the city of Chicago, but Oak Park is the place he called home.

Now offering their most exclusive tour, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust presents “Wright Around Oak Park.” This three-hour comprehensive tour presents Wright’s development as an architect, as a personal interpreter leads intimate group sizes through the Wright Home and Studio, on an expanded tour of the neighborhood where the architect lived and worked—including stops outside seven Wright residences—and on a tour of his greatest public building of the Prairie period: Unity Temple.


Starting in Wright’s Home and Studio, visitors have the opportunity to learn more about Wright as a person, an architect, and a family man. Walking through the house he designed for his wife and children, tour guides offer an inside look into how the family lived, and how the architectural design choices, such as his functionality principles and dedication to compression and expansion of space, fit their life. Beyond learning why Wright chose to build a piano into a wall so that it’s body hung above the stairs, guides also provide interesting facts on his life such as how Wright helped shape his children’s imagination with block toys, and how much Catherine “Kitty” Wright enjoyed sitting on her balcony each morning.

After the home and studio tour, the three hour exploration takes a short 15 minute break before adventuring down the streets of Oak Park. Beginning with four Wright-designed homes just next door and across the street from his own, visitors will get to see examples of Wright’s design principles, material use, and even the Japanese influence on his designs; although, as the guides joke, Wright swore any connection to Japanese style must have been something learned from him.

Finally the tour concludes with an exterior and interior look at Unity Temple. A National Historic Landmark since 1970, this is the last surviving public building from Wright’s prairie period. Promising to create a bold design on a modest budget, which in true Wright fashion he did not stick to, Wright created a unique concrete space that, despite doubt from a board member who resisted the design, offers great natural lighting and even better acoustics.  Unity Temple was Wright’s contribution to modern architecture and as he remarked it made “an entirely new architecture, and is the first expression of it.”  Unity Temple is currently beginning the process of restoration, giving tour participants the opportunity to hear some of the restoration decisions and plans while they explore the building.

Optimized-afterlight (1)“Wright Around Oak Park” tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and begin at the gift shop of the Wright Home and Studio. Ticket prices are $65 for members, and $70 for non-members, and include special discount coupons to Oak Park restaurants to use for lunch after the tour ends. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone ahead of time and picked up at the gift shop before the tour begins, which participants are recommended to arrive 15 minutes early to. Those interested in taking this tour should keep in mind that the three hour tour requires being on your feet for the majority of the time, but know the inside look is well worth it.

For more information on “Wright Around Oak Park” and to purchase tickets visit:


Tags: , , , ,

No Comments

The Taste of Lincoln Avenue is Back!

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by


Those who are already missing the Taste of Chicago have something to look forward to this weekend as the annual Taste of Lincoln Avenue returns to Lincoln Park with live music, a kids carnival, and the Lill Street Craft Fair.

Save the dates July 26 and 27 to head up to North Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood to catch music acts from The Gin Blossoms, Rusted Root, Trippin Billies, 16 Candles, and many more. Between three stages of over 25 music performances, you’ll be able to munch on tastes from more than 250 vendors before heading over to Lill Street to check out handmade and DIY crafts at the fair.

Kid’s fun won’t be in short supply from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kid’s Carnival, where tickets can be purchased to play games and participate in crafts and activities throughout the day, including inflatables, pony rides, magicians, and more. Entering the carnival through the Halsted entrance is free, but those who enter from any other entrance will be asked to give a small donation, giving parents the perfect opportunity to give back to the community while their kids run around on a Saturday afternoon. Win win!

The Taste is open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. both days and admission is $8 at the gate. As their annual fundraiser, all admission proceeds will  benefit the Wrightwood Neighbors Association, who have been hosting this event since 1984 in order to benefit schools, outreach programs, and food pantries in the area. If you’re interested in being more involved in this event and giving back to the community, the Neighbors Association is still looking for volunteers. Sign up online here to get  free admission, a t-shirt, and the community’s gratitude in exchange for a few hours of your time.

For more information on the Taste of Lincoln Avenue and a lineup of the performances check out:

Tags: , ,

No Comments

Concierge Picks: High Five Ramen, Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, Caffe Oliva

Posted on July 15th, 2014 by


Our director of concierge relations and services Joyce Fong is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top picks for this weekend.

Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen is all about fresh-casual. They didn’t follow the trend; they started it. With a focus on fresh, local and housemade their approach to customizing your dining experience is truly a delight. From traditional burgers and sandwiches – the tuna sandwich is truly #1 – you will also find crisp salads and gelato sandwiches. Want a little spirit to go with that sandwich? They have a full bar too. Their newest location in River North welcomes you with a clean open atmosphere and deliciousness. Think of Doc B’s as an extension of your own kitchen – comfortable, flavorful, and fresh!
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen River North
55 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

It is summer and everyone gravitates to outdoor seating as much as possible. Consider Caffe Oliva at Ohio Street Beach. You will see the wooden gazebo-like structure as you walk or ride your bike along the lakefront path. Settle in and wait for casual delicious food to grace your table. Open daily with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays the menu ranges from grass-fed beef and lamb burgers to salads and flatbreads to some very adult treats.
Caffe Oliva
Ohio Street Beach, Chicago, IL

Wait in line? Never! Unless it is for some of the best ramen noodles in town. Advocates of fresh ramen, tasty miso and fresh ingredients will wait for over an hour to slurp down a bowlful at High Five Ramen. Just west of Halsted on Green St. at Randolph, the aromas waft through the door enticing you and teasing you into ordering more than you r stomach can handle. Don’t worry. A bowlful is filling and, oh, so satisfying – spicy or not. Once you get through the door, grab a stool and enjoy. A little hidden but worth the wait!
High Five Ramen
112 N. Green St., Chicago, IL

Tags: , , ,

No Comments

Discover the Dinosaurs!

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


Starting today, Navy Pier is going Jurassic with “Discover the Dinosaurs,” an interactive exhibit that promises fun for the whole family.

All ages can explore pre-historic life through discovery and interactive activities that include a Dino Dig, Dino coloring station, and scavenger hunt in addition to the main exhibit. However, the main exhibit is sure to be enough to entertain even the most “educational activity resistant” in your group with dinosaur replicas that come to life with movement and sound, all controlled by you! Visitors will learn about the Dino they control as they make it move, breathe, and even roar to life. The entire exhibit includes 40 moving and static museum quality dinosaur replicas playing out scenes from a day in the life of a dinosaur, and aims to be a hands on learning opportunity for those interested in all things Jurassic.

Spend the entire day at Navy Pier Hall B and escape the hot sun with this all indoor event, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. With a purchase of an exhibit plus ticket visitors will have access to unlimited dinosaur rides, inflatables, and even mini golf on top of all the activities included in an exhibit only ticket. Activities also offered include gem and fossil mining, and children’s face painting, which tickets must be purchased separately for.

For more information on “Discover the Dinosaurs” and ticket pricing visit:

Tags: ,

No Comments

Celebrate the Garden District of Chicago

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


Truly showing that Chicago is “Urbs in horto,” a city in a garden, Lincoln Park will be celebrating the 46th annual Sheffield Garden Walk and Music Festival on July 19 – 20, with live music and tours of more than 80 of the neighborhood’s gardens.

Presented by the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, this “iconic green showcase” will be hosting architecture tours of  the Victorian-era buildings that make up much of the neighborhood’s National Historic District, and the historic St. Vincent de Paul Church, in addition to its guided garden tours. Also for the first time this year,  the festival will be sharing an entrance at Sheffield and Webster with Chicago’s 3rd annual Craft Beer Festival, giving visitors the opportunity to check out both of these Lincoln Park attractions side by side.


While centered around the beautiful gardens of the DePaul/Lincoln Park neighborhood, the festival offers a great weekend activity for families with its popular Kid’s Korner each afternoon between 12:00 — 5:30 p.m. The Korner includes art activities, a petting zoo, pony rides, and even a kiddie Ferris Wheel to entertain those little visitors who aren’t captured with the sightseeing.

Family-friendly means not entertaining only the kids, but  parents will be able to enjoy food from vendors such as La Mexicana and The Crave Bar Food Truck, alongside live music performances on two stages. Featured headliners are ZZ Ward, the Freddy Jones Band, The Samples, and Meiko.

Sheffield Garden Walk hours are 12:00 – 10:00 p.m. both days. Depending on tours, suggested  donations are between $7 – 10, and proceeds benefit the Sheffield Neighborhood Association.

For more information visit:, and share your experience on twitter with #SheffieldGardenWalk.

Tags: , , , ,

No Comments

Shakespeare in the Parks

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


Bringing back a Chicago annual summer tradition, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) will be showing 26 performances of  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 18 neighborhood parks from July 18 – August 17. 

In it’s third year, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks has brought free performances to more than 27,000 Chicagoans already and aims to continue to break down barriers to arts participation, “giving Chicago residents direct access to their city’s cultural treasures.”

“Chicago is one of the world’s greatest arts and cultures capitals, and we’re bringing the arts and cultural experiences directly to neighborhoods across the city through performances like Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “One of my favorite Night Out in the Parks event last year was a Shakespeare in the Parks performance in Humboldt Park, people of all ages came together to watch Shakespeare come to life.”

Shakespeare in the Parks kicks off on Friday, July 18th at Gateway Park at Navy Pier at 6:30 p.m. and park shows will take place rain or shine.

“Shakespeare in the Parks” Schedule: 6330346.87

  • July 18 – 19: Gateway Park at Navy Pier
  • July 20: Garfield Park Conservatory
  • July 22: Tuley Park
  • July 23-24: Dvorak Park
  • July 25-26: Loyola Park
  • July 27: Washington Park
  • July 29: Riis Park
  • July 30: Piotrowski Park
  • July 31: Gage Park
  • August 1: Hamilton Park
  • August 2 – 3: Frank J. Wilson Park
  • August 6 – 7: Humboldt Park
  • August 8 – 9: Welles Park
  • August 10: Columbus Park
  • August 12: Marquette Park
  • August 13: Ridge Park
  • August 14 – 15: South Shore Cultural Center
  • August 16 – 17: Eckhart Park

Performances Tuesday – Saturday begin at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday performances begin at 4:00 p.m. For more information visit:

Tags: , ,

No Comments

3rd Annual Chicago Craft Beer Festival

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by


With more than one-third of Illinois’ 70 craft brewers being located here in the city, beer enthusiasts will be in heaven July 19 – 20 when Chicago’s Craft Beer Festival returns, with over 100 brews from more than 60 specialty brewers, in Lincoln ParkCCBF_web_12

For the first time this year the festival will be held in conjunction with the Sheffield Garden Walk and Music Festival, combining two Lincoln Park neighborhood classics in to one entertainment-packed weekend, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. This year’s festival will be located on Sheffield and Webster, and visitors can expect the showcasing of seasonal and small-batch beers from local, regional, and national craft brewers, with the centerpiece of the event being ticketed afternoon tastings.

Tasting passes can be purchased in advance for either Saturday or Sunday for $40, and allows for 15, three-ounce beer samples, souvenir tasting glasses, tasting tent access, and seating for live music performances. With a limit on the number of tasting tickets that can be sold each day, purchasing in advance is recommended; but, if  not sold out, there will be tasting tickets available for purchase at the door for $45. A few Chicago brewers you can look forward to seeing show off their hops are Finch’s, Argus, Rude Hippo Brewing, and Vice District breweries.

Fest hours will coincide with the Sheffield Garden Walk and will take place from 12:00 – 10:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. To purchase a one-day Chicago Craft Beer Festival tasting pass, or for more fest information and updates on breweries and beers visit:, and share your experience on twitter with #ChiCraftBeerFest.

Confirmed Brewers so far:

Tags: , , ,

No Comments

Concierge Picks: Taste of Chicago, Windy City Smokeout, Roscoe Village Burger Fest

Posted on July 9th, 2014 by

Anthony Gates, concierge at the JW Marriott Chicago, and this week’s concierge correspondent shares his top picks for this weekend in the video clip below.

Tags: , ,

No Comments