Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago

I don’t often chat about my hometown because this blog isn’t just a personal one.

The Petite Bijou has readers all over the world and not everyone has the chance to travel.

But Chicago is magical, especially in the summer. And people who visit my Instagram always ask for my recommendations for visiting the city. There’s a lot more to do, see, and eat in Chicago. Keep reading to find out my favorite summer activities!

Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago

Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago

What To Do

Visit the Museums

The Field, Shedd, Adler, and Art Institute are the best museums in the city. And the best part is they are all fairly close to each other. Just hop on the 146 CTA bus to “Museum Campus” which is a section of the city that has most of these museums. You can buy a one day CTA pass from the city at most of the train stops. The Art Institute is on Michigan Avenue and a very walkable destination. Don’t forget to stop by the gardens at the museum!


See a Cubs Game

I’m not a sports fan, but I would definitely recommend seeing our cubbies play at Wrigley Field. It’s an iconic must do experience and if you’re not a sports fan, at least you’ll enjoy the nice warm day!


Walk around Michigan Ave

Start from the Loop and walk up Michigan Avenue, past the river, and into River North and the Gold Coast (so named for the rich who had beautiful mansions there once). There’s plenty of shops, restaurants, and activities to do along this iconic street.


The John Hancock Observatory

Skip the “gram worthy” destination of the Willis Tower (super crowded anyways) and head to the John Hancock Tower up to the observatory. It’s a glass enclosed place with less lines and arguably better views of the city from up above. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s a restaurant on the 97th floor that is absolutely amazing!


Take A River Taxi or Architecture Cruise

The Chicago river is very beautiful and there’s so much to see along the river. Take a taxi to hop from one part of the city to another or take an architecture tour if you’d like to learn about some of the history of the buildings you pass on the River. Both options are great and refreshing on a hot summers day. Little know tip, you’ll end up beating the buses and trains when you take a river taxi – it’s so fast to get around in Chicago.


Take a Ghost Tour

Chicago has it’s own haunted history and a nighttime summer ghost tour is the perfect way to see the city with a new light…or should I say, darkness? You’ll learn a lot about the history of my town and perhaps even witness your own paranormal events…I did! It was on a stop to the Hull House near the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. I felt extremely sick and apparently I wasn’t the only person who had reacted that way at that spot before.


Walk Around Wicker Park

Wicker Park is the Bohemian side of Chicago: full of vintage shops, great coffee shops, and quirky people (I used to live in Wicker Park and loved it!) But one of my favorite things to do here after strolling around the main areas is head to the residential spots and see all the old and beautiful Victorian houses and mansions that were left in the area. Most of these predate the Chicago Fire and some of them survived!

Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago


Where to Eat

Cindy’s Rooftop

For drink and shared meals overlooking Millennium Park. Be aware though, even if you make a reservation, lines will be extremely long as this is a popular spot. This place also has a strict dress code (although they do somehow let in people who don’t observe these rules). Just to be safe, make a reservation and get there plenty early! The desserts they offer are the best


London House Rooftop

For magnificent views of the city and river with delicious libations. You can see more of the London House Rooftop from my post here with Victorias Secret, where the event was held. It’s honestly such a magical place and everything here is delicious. Again, make sure you’re dressed up and come early. Not sure if they accept reservations for the rooftop – might be first come first serve.


Cafe Ba Ba Reeba

My favorite tapas restaurant in the city is located in Lincoln Park! I love the Spanish inspired cuisine offered here. The lines are never too bad and you can always make a reservation too. I would recommend you try their housemate Sangria and bring some friends for some delicious shared plates.


Dollop Coffee Company

One of my favorite coffee shops for drinks and snacks that are truly unique! Starbucks in Chicago are always super busy and crowded. You’re better off trying an independent coffee shop which is light and airy. I used to love bringing homework and my computer to work on at the coffee shops and Dollop always have plenty of space. There’s 3 locations throughout the city.


Heritage Bicycle Shop

A vintage themed coffee shop with that also repairs bicycles! It’s such a cute space with delicious coffee drinks. I had my first blogging meetup here and it was such a blast. It’s a tiny place, but if you go during an off time, you’ll be just fine,


Library Bar at Ambassador Hotel

This place is the hangout of a few local Chicago celebs and also my favorite place for it’s bookish vibes. So yes, it’s a library…and a bar…and it’s pretty cool because drinks are not the only things they offer. You can get a decent pizza and delicious French fries there too! Definitely dress up but you don’t need a reservation for this place. By the way, there’s no formal tables, it’s just luxurious couches and chairs.


The Allis at Soho House

So you can’t become a Soho House member, but you can join the club at the Allis! It’s a gorgeous spot in the West Loop to get brunch. Definitely very “grammable” but I would recommend putting your phone away and truly enjoying the delicious food and coffee offered. Go on a weekday for less crowds.


Three Arts Cafe at Restoration Hardware

Another “grammable spot” but feel free to take all the pictures here for your memories. It’s a gorgeous place with a chandelier and “sunroom” feel to it right in the middle of furniture store, Restoration Hardware. You can get drinks and walk around and pretend which furniture you’re going to buy!

Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago

Where to Stay

The Hilton Hotel

I love this hotel so much and it’s in such a great location too! Right on Michigan Avenue, you can take a bus or walk to all the major attractions around the city. It’s a beautiful and clean hotel as well. There’s a great Irish pub attached to the hotel that is one of my favorite hangouts.


The Gwen Chicago

This new boutique hotel is luxurious but very cozy. They have a lovely rooftop space that offers “glamping” as well. They offer a lovely menu selection and are very close to all the best shopping destinations on Michigan Avenue. Everyone there is so lovely and nice as well!


The Congress Hotel

Chicago’s most haunted hotel…how can I not offer this option to those interest? This Hotel is just a stones throw away from the Hilton and it’s not too bad price wise. It’s central to everything you could need to do and is truly a historic hotel. There’s been so many people that have stayed here and passed through their halls. If you have a chance to check out their ballrooms, you must. They are stunning and very historic.


The Drake

If you have a budget for it, I would definitely stay at the historic Drake hotel! It’s so luxurious and the Drake hotel also hosts afternoon tea (which is yes, very formal). This hotel is the northern most hotel I would recommend that is still pretty accessible to all the attractions. It is also closest to the beaches!


So I’ll be updating this as I learn more about my own city and find places to recommend. I only have recommend places and things I’ve tried. Hope you enjoy this guide!

Bijou Guide to Summer in Chicago


What else would you like me to write about when it comes to Chicago? I’d be happy to write something helpful for you if you ever want to travel here or if you just want to learn more about my city. Leave a comment below and let me know! Thank you

Behind The Blog

The Petite Bijou is an online destination featuring wholesome yet sophisticated living and styling tips for women. The site is run by the family and friends of survivor, lifestyle influencer, and writer Mariam, who passed away in the summer of 2020.  Mariam also hosted The Bijou Show, a self help podcast.

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