Keying in on a favorite U.S. City, everyone has one….what’s yours?


By M.Swint

From this opening image can you guess what city this is? ok I will give you a clue, many people call it The Windy City or Chi-Town, if you guessed Chicago then you are correct. Chi-town as I like to call it, goes down at the top of my list for favorite U.S. cities.  I have visited this city at least 25 to 30 times and I still want to go back again and again. I often thought about living in Chicago and I had the opportunity to do so by way of re-location for the company I work for, it was a matter of signing on the dotted line and they would have picked up the tab for me to relocate, but I had others in my family to consider before making such a move.😭

In this article I want to share with you my experience from this exciting city. I will be featuring plenty of photos, in fact more photos than any other article that I have written. I had the pleasure of taking most of the photos you will see and I will let the pictures tell the story. Also note that you will see a nice range of times that I visited Chicago and a variety of family and friends who have experienced this city with me. So come with me and get lost in my journey through Chicago!

The opening image was taken by the Chicago River. The second picture is my family on the Mag Mile

Family having Dinner At Lawry’s Restaurant

Why Chi-Town?

The city of Chicago is a city for people who love the city atmosphere, the hustle and bustle fast pace environment – taxis, buses, El’s, trains and so on……..No matter where you live, downtown or suburbs you can get around Chicago. For Chicago to be a very large city, it is very clean and well organized and this city is also very diversed with many races of people, therefore you must visit Chicago in order to get the full appreciation of it.

What keeps me coming back ?


Chicago is a great place for a quick getaway with Friend’s.

When going to Chicago, its always good to take along some Family and friends, but it’s also a bonus when your best friend lives there, my buddy Ron along with his wife Dionne who is like a sister to me, and I can’t forget their sweet little cute daughter Nuriah. On many of my trips to Chi-town this wonderful couple host me and my family, what a blessing their friendship has been through-out the years!

When I’m planning a visit to Chicago – this couple comes to mind.

Friend’s with me in Chicago

1. Let’s talk downtown Chicago. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you go, summer or freezing winter, you will always get that warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you are somewhere special on the map. This busy downtown area featuring the Magnificent Mile known as the Mag Mile, consist of fabulous restaurants, street entertainment, clubs, specialty shops, designer stores, hotels, and many many attractions!

2. Getting around downtown Chicago is very easy, you don’t need a vehicle. City planners got it right when they planned the transit system for the downtown area as well as the suburban areas. Buses are abundant in the downtown area, you don’t always need a taxi, although plenty of taxis are available. In addition to the transportation system, now they have Uber and Lyft, so there is no excuse for not being able to get around.

3.  Where to Stay?  I prefer to stay in the downtown area. Through out the years I have stayed at many hotels downtown, and I can vouch for the following hotel:

Hilton Chicago – One of the best hotels downtown Chicago, however the location for this hotel is a little ways away from the Mag Mile near Millennium Park, about a 15 minute walk down Michigan Ave. Many weddings are held at this hotel, a few years back when I stayed there, the Chicago Bears stayed there as well.

Embassy Suites on State St – Another nice hotel that is owned by Hilton and is up to Hilton standards. This hotel is centrally located near the Mag Mile and plenty of restaurants. If you choose this hotel for your stay in Chicago you will not be disappointed.

Courtyard Marriott Mag Mile – Very nice and located right on the Mag Mile. Nicely decorated with a large lobby and hotel bar.

Doubletree Hilton Mag Mile – Is one of my favorites, located just minutes from Michigan Ave. I probably stayed at this hotel more times than any of the other ones. Hotel lobby bar and bakery for your convenience. Doubletree Hilton Mag Mile

Embassy Suites on Columbus – This hotel has to be the most recent hotel that I stayed in , very nicely located between the Navy Pier an the Mag Mile. Being a Hilton Honors member we were upgraded to a corner window suite with an extra large room for my wife and I and another couple,  we had plenty of room. This room overlooked Lake Michigan, it was great! Also included in all Embassy Suites hotels is a free cocktail reception and free cook to order breakfast. Embassy Suites Mag Mile

If you are staying in the downtown area, it would be wise to park your car at your hotel or one of the private parking structures, trying to navigate around downtown can be very difficult and you will not find a lot of parking on the street, but I will give you fair warning ⚠️ parking in downtown Chicago is expensive! running on average $50.00 a night at your hotel and about $40.00 a night in private parking.

  •  have no fear I found a good parking app SpotHero  I used this app and it negotiated parking for me at $22.00 per night in downtown Chicago, 🚗 that’s a great bargin!

4. Downtown Attractions

Mag Mile

The Magnificent Mile should be the model downtown shopping street for all of downtown’s. The Mag Mile is not overwhelming like New York’s downtown, but at the same time there is a lot to take in. Walking down this 1 mile stretch on Michigan Avenue and it’s side streets, you will find restaurants, street entertainment, clubs, specialty shops, designer stores, and hotels. The real estate is high on this block, one or two bedroom condo’s range in the millions $$$


Navy Pier

Navy Pier has restaurants and shops. This Pier is located off of Lake Michigan and is very nice to visit in the summer months, also this is another place for photo opportunities and is a Chicago must do.

At Navy Pier with Thursha and Donny

Millennium Park

If you like outdoor Ice Skating (it’s free) go to Millennium Park. Located on Michigan Avenue near the Mag Mile. Photographer’s have a field day in this park, it is a show place for downtown Chicago.

Other Attractions

  1. Art Institute of Chicago
  2. Grant Park
  3. John Hancock Center
  4. Chicago Theatre
  5. Soldier Field

5. Getting Hungry

  1. Grand Lux Cafe

Try the Grand Lux Cafe this restaurant has to be one of the most talked about restaurants in downtown Chicago. Why? Atmosphere say’s it all and the location in the heart of the Mag Mile. Great food, Great service and great prices is a recipe for an excellent restaurant, also the Grand Lux is owned by the Cheesecake Factory. The Grand Lux also host a Saturday and Sunday Brunch, it’s the best. Tip- try the Crab and Asparagus omelette it’s only available at brunch.


This is how my friend Stephen Boyd likes his Prime Rib prepared.

Honorable Mention Restaurants


Cheesecake Factory 


West Eggs

Beggars Pizza

Weber Grill / House of Blues

The Purple Pig – featuring it’s famous Bone Marrow dish

The Purple Pig

Chicago Theatre Downtown

If you wanna take in a Broadway show, Chicago offers that as well. We have been attracted to several Plays and Musicals tailored for families and friends. Nice Theater District not too crowded.



Chicago Safety Concern’s.

Let’s touch a little on Chicago Crime rate. Why?  I felt compelled to mention it because of the recent media coverage of Chicago, with 762 murders in 2016. However, this story is not about Chicago crime, nor is it political, but we can’t ignore the issue 🤔 ? Of course all of us can be victims of crime anywhere we go and we have to be cautious and make our own decisions where we vacation, but Honestly speaking I have never experienced any sort of crime against me or my family and friends while in the downtown area nor in the suburbs of Chicago. Never have I felt threatened by anyone there, everyone I have met or came in contact with have always had a relaxed, laid back attitude and in fact the people of Chicago is very out-going and friendly!

Chicago Cost $$

How much is a Chicago weekend? If you have ever heard the term “The sky is the limit ” 🤣🤑yes, in Chicago you can go with an expensive budget or a modest budget, I have done both, that’s what makes this city unique.

Hotel Cost:  If you want a nice 3 or 4 star hotel downtown near or on the Mag Mile, the going rate is anywhere from $130 to $250 per night, depending on how savvy you are 😌 and If it’s any holidays or events going on or coming up, cost will increase. Tip- I usually go to Chicago during the Thanksgiving holiday time, but I book my room 10 months in advance before the holiday rate hike 🤓

Restaurants (Food) Cost: Restaurants are pretty reasonably priced downtown Chicago, in fact all the restaurants I mentioned in this article are very moderately priced with the exception of Lawrys. $$

Getting there: Living in Michigan it’s a 4 hour drive to Chicago which cost about $30 in gasoline, but on many occasions we have taken the Amtrak train (lots of fun) which cost about $120 rt for adults and $60 rt for children.

Shopping: When shopping Downtown Chicago you will find that the stores and shops are (not) overpriced, you will find many sales and bargains.

My Final Thoughts!

Hopefully now you can see why Chicago is one of my favorite US cities. If you have never been there, maybe you should consider going. It’s a inexpensive weekend getaway that couples and families can enjoy. What about taking a few friends for a few days?  whatever you decide to do, if you choose to go to Chicago, I can just about guarantee you will have a great time in the Windy City! 💨

Thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed my take on Chicago. Please feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts on Chicago, you can also click the like button or visit me at Facebook , Instagram or Twitter. ☺️


Meet The Author 

Welcome to Swint Travel Blog! My name is Mark A Swint and I enjoy Traveling or you can say that I have the travel bug. The purpose of this website is to share travel ideas and travel tips that will invite inexperienced travelers as well as those who are well traveled get away and try something new. My family and I have traveled to many places around the United States as well as the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. My goal is to get viewers and bloggers excited about going to see places you have never been. (Switching Careers) Living inbeautiful Michigan all my life, I currently work in the Auto Industry, however it is my goal to switch to the hospitality/travel industry in the near future. There are so many places on my bucket list for travel, please feel free to share your travel experience with me so that we can have an exchange of ideas.

Thank you for visiting my website and I hope that the pictures and the travel tips get you motivated to try some place new!
Happy Travels!


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