Endless Design with Nate Berkus
Interior Designer & Author
My travel cravings are for locally produced things, like textiles, art, glass... anything handmade. Discovering local artisans and then hauling their work back home is the ultimate thrill for me. My earliest travel memory is getting on the plane as a kid by myself to go visit my dad out in California. I did that every summer growing up.
I would spend my perfect day in Chicago because of the shopping, of course. Chicago has some of the best antique stores, markets, and boutiques. Some of my favorite finds over the years have come from scouring stores there. I would stay at Public when visiting Chicago.
The activities that can't be missed
1. Furniture shopping at Pavilion. Be warned though... you'll want to buy everything.
2. Take a run along the waterfront. It's a great way to take in the city and make you feel like a local.
3. Visit the MCA. Going to the museum feels like a dying art but in my book it's something everyone should do. The MCA in Chicago is a good place to start.
My favorite places to eat
1. I can't go to Chicago unless someone on my staff will make time for lunch from Penny's Noodle Soup.
2. I eat like a 6 year old and like any kid, I love hot dogs. Chicago is known for them so there are plenty of options. From Weiner Circle all the way to Gene & Jude's, which was voted Chicago's #1 hot dog spot. Just be prepared though. At Weiner Circle the staff is encouraged to be mean to you when you walk through the door. It's all part of the charm.
3. Since eating out in Chicago is an embarrassment of riches, it's hard to have a bad dining experience. Another favorite of mine is Art Smith's restaurant, Table Fifty-Two. Make sure to try to the hummingbird cake.
The places you should definitely see
1. The Chicago Skyline is one of the best in the world. This is going to sound crazy that I'm recommending this but take a kayak along the river to take it all in. I've actually done it and it's so worth it. You get to see the city from a whole new perspective.
2. Grant Park. It's the best place for many things, from concerts to food. Or just grabbing a coffee and people watching. I always try to stop by when I have some downtime.
My favorite hidden gems
2. Lincoln Square houses Merz Apothecary. It's the real deal right down to the old school herbalist/pharmacist mixing up potions in the back.
3. Peninsula Hotel & Spa. It's still strange that when I come back to Chicago I now have to stay in a hotel. But the Peninsula is a definite hidden gem. Squeeze in a treatment at the spa if you can.