A Weekend in the World’s Greatest City

One of the best parts about going to Illinois is the fact that our campus is only two hours away from one of the coolest cities in the world! (Or the best city, according to a recent survey by Time Out Magazine.) Having grown up in the suburbs, I always felt drawn to the city life, and one of Illinois’ main selling points for me was its proximity to Chicago.

City views

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I discovered how easy it is to plan a weekend trip to the city. There are a number of affordable transportation options. Shuttle companies such as Peoria Charter will take you straight from campus to downtown, or you can take a Greyhound bus or Amtrak train right to Union Station.

Now that I’m in my final semester of college and I’ve officially signed a full-time offer based in Chicago, I’m looking forward to exploring more of the city whenever I have the time. This past weekend trip was jam-packed with dozens of new experiences and incredible food, despite the undeniably chilly weather. Here are some highlights:

  1. A show at The Second City

Photo from Chicago Reader

Chicago has a pretty vibrant stand-up comedy and improvisational theater scene. We were able to catch a late night show at The Second City, where a number of stars such as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert got their start.

  1. Chicago Restaurant Week

Photo from Chicago Reader

My visit just happened to coincide with Restaurant Week, which is basically a two-week period when restaurants around Chicago offer unique fixed price menus with multiple courses. My friend and I decided to go to an Indian restaurant called Mango Pickle, and it did not disappoint. I was way too full after the entire meal, but it was great value for money. I got to try such a wide variety of dishes.

  1. Free Admission Day at the Field Museum

For a few days in the year, general admission to the Field Museum is free for Illinois residents. The museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours and explore new exhibits. Plus, it’s a great place to escape the cold!

Meet Sue the T.rex. She’s the largest and most complete T.rex ever found!

  1. Coffee at Sawada

No trip to the city is complete without a new coffee shop discovery. My friend introduced me to Sawada, which is owned by a world-famous latte artist, Hiroshi Sawada. I tried the signature “Military Latte” which combines matcha and espresso—my two favorite things! As expected, the latte art was on point.

The life-changing “Military Latte”

All in all, this was one of my most memorable trips to Chicago. I’d encourage all future out-of-state or international students to make the most of the city whenever you find the chance. If you’re local and know the city all too well, take some new friends with you and play tour guide for a day! There’s something for everyone, and we could all use a break from campus life every once in a while.


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