Plan a 2014 highlights trip to Chicago

Plan a weekend getaway to the Windy City
Plan a 2014 highlights trip to Chicago
The views from 360 Chicago, formerly the John Hancock Observatory, allow you to take in the whole city.

Start your highlights-of-2014 trip by checking into the Silversmith Hotel. After a multimillion-dollar renovation of the building, constructed in the 1800s to house jewelers and silver craftsmen, it’s now a modern, stylish hotel, with décor carried out in silver, charcoal and gray, plus flourishes of fuchsia and yellow. The 144 guest rooms feature high ceilings, comfy sitting areas and plush beds with tufted silver headboards. 

Downstairs at Adamus, the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, find an eye-catching circular bar, nooks for working or socializing, a long table to seat twenty and booths and tables for more intimate meals. With seasonal menus highlighting local ingredients and specialty cocktails, Adamus turns out bright, contemporary American cuisine.

While many of the city’s new hotels open in the River North area, the Silversmith boasts an almost too good to be true perch on Jewelers Row, a stretch of Wabash Avenue in the heart of the downtown Loop. 

Head one block east to Michigan Avenue, and more specifically Acanto, a charming Italian eatery that opened in August. With a relaxed atmosphere and a menu offering selections of cheese and prosciutto, as well as pizzas and pastas, it’s great for a big meal or quick stop for a bite and glass of wine. 

Acanto’s next-door neighbor, The Gage, is also worth a visit. The spacious restaurant has an equally vast bar menu, and beer director Paul Slayton is happy to steer you toward a satisfying choice. Don’t pass up the chance to try a flavorful “culinary beer” from Moody Tongue, a new Chicago brewery. (And don’t feel bad if you’d prefer a Lagunitas IPA; the California company just opened a taproom in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood this summer.) 

Chicagoans welcomed restaurant River Roast—granting it with the people’s choice award in the Hamburger Hop in September—and drank in cocktails and city views on the rooftops of new hotels Soho House and the Godfrey. And they probably weren’t surprised when Grant Achatz’s acclaimed Alinea garnered three Michelin stars, the only Chicago restaurant to do so. But the most star-studded new place to eat and drink has to be RPM Steak. The latest culinary endeavor by TV stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic, this hotspot attracted no less than President Obama within its first two months of opening. 

The city also welcomed the return of another local notable—Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day.” After months in the Art Institute of Chicago‘s conservation studio, the 1877 oil painting of umbrella-wielding Parisians and slick cobblestones is back in its place of honor welcoming visitors to the outstanding Impressionism collection. 

Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, David Bowie Is has been a 2014 cultural highlight, tracing the influential performer’s career through more than four hundred objects, from handwritten lyrics to Ziggy Stardust bodysuits. It runs through January 4. 

A pair of exhibitions honor the tenth anniversary of Millennium Park. Along with a photography show are four outdoor sculptures of young girls’ faces by Jaume Plensa. A nearly forty-foot-tall white face sits at the park’s entrance, while a row of three twenty-foot cast iron portraits are tucked among trees. The faces continue the story of the thousand portraits of Chicagoans that illuminate the park’s Crown Fountain. 

End your trip on a high note with a visit to 360 Chicago, formerly the John Hancock Observatory. Along with the new name came Tilt, a courage-testing attraction on the building’s ninety-fourth floor. Visitors step up to a row of windows, which slowly rotates forward to give an unprecedented look Chicago. If you don’t have the stomach for Tilt, don’t worry. The observatory still offers stellar views of this spectacular city.