Establishment neighborhood
515 N Halsted St., River West
DL Mullen, the female founder behind Semicolon, one of Chicago’s newest independently owned bookstores, has created a space where the library of titles is immense and the comfort is instant. An afternoon spent browsing books is a lesson in sensory pleasure, with rotating art on the walls, plenty of seating, and gorgeous decorative touches, like bright rugs and literary quotes. It’s the kind of spot where settling in with a stack is encouraged and questions are welcome. Mullen and her team provide thousands of donated books to Chicago public school students, and Mullen (who has a PhD in literary theory) is a seasoned pro at helping reluctant-to-read kids and young adults find books they won’t be able to put down. Images courtesy of Zach Caddy.
Ode à la Rose
2023 W. Carroll Ave., West Town
Ode à la Rose founders Olivier Plusquellec and Louis Brunet are Parisian. And to be Parisian means to know beauty—and in this case, flowers. When they moved to NYC, they were disappointed to see all the dehydrated, wilted, sad arrangements on offer. So disappointed, they decided to start their own floral delivery service: Ode à la Rose. Plusquellec and Brunet started small, working with a few florists who trained in the specific style of hand-tied bouquets that the French have mastered—and they've only grown since. The team creates incredible arrangements with accents straight from Plusquellec and Brunet's home country: gigantic, plump fuchsia roses delivered with French macarons; lilies, wildflowers, and lavender accented with eucalyptus and wrapped in raffia. No detail is too small—the packaging, the richness of the hue of the flower, you name it—and they’re experts in keeping the flowers hydrated during transit. The team delivers in Chicago, as well as throughout the Northeast and New York City (where they have their premiere location above the Chelsea Flower Market). We're just hoping a West Coast outpost isn’t far behind.
Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Near South Side
In many ways, Chicago is a city made for kids. Parks and green spaces are everywhere, and the museums always seem to have plenty to offer the little ones. Adler Planetarium, right next to the Field Museum on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a prime example. Come here for a fun dose of cosmic escapism (adults will love it, too), where exhibits like “The Universe: A Walk Through Space” is akin to stepping into another world. You’ll wander through darkened rooms illuminated only by high resolution, twinkling recreations of the stars, galaxies, and planets.
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Near South Side
One of the country’s great institutions, the Field Museum encompasses about sixty-five million years of natural history, give or take. Dinosaurs are almost brought to life with fully reconstructed skeletons, including the most complete T-Rex frame in the world, and dozens of animated videos and interactive displays create an engrossing narrative of evolution that’s easy for kids to digest. But grownups are just as enthralled. There’s also the Play Lab, an educational space for the youngest visitors to crawl into recreated dinosaur nests, play with toy fossils, and experiment with musical instruments from ancient cultures. The building itself is a neoclassical beauty inspired by the temples of Ancient Rome and Greece, and the location—right on Lake Michigan and adjacent to Grant Park—is perfect for outdoor picnics and running around after a visit.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio
951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park
A native Midwesterner, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago work is easily accessible for architecture nerds in search of inspiration, especially in the Oak Park neighborhood. This is where you’ll find Wright’s own former home and studio, designed when he was just twenty-two years old. While you could happily amble about the leafy streets and see the Robie House and the Harry S. Adams House—two of the most well-known Wright-conceived homes in the area—it’s really his own home place that makes the best starting point. You’ll see features, like his obsession with horizontal lines, cantilevering, and inglenook fireplaces, that would become Wright’s signature in his later projects. It’s a fascinating history lesson to walk through his early experimental, trial-and-error canvas.
Chill Chicago
222 W. Kinzie St., River North
As the name suggests, Chill is the place to come to escape. It’s a River North meditation studio that breaks the daunting task of quieting the mind into thirty-minute sessions, each designed to calm and reset a specific area of concern. “Breath” is focused on mental clarity and the elimination of brain fog. “Insight” is for the career-minded looking for work dilemma breakthroughs, while “Rest” is for those on a quest for better sleep. There’s even a course for kids, designed to train younger minds to de-stress and find stillness amid jam-packed schedules.
2211 N. Elston Ave., Bucktown
There are yoga studios that teach you to stretch and strengthen, and then there are yoga studios that seem to give you the tools to master mind and body. Lincoln Park’s Yogaview definitely falls into the latter. That’s due to thoughtfully-led classes taught by instructors who somehow manage plenty of individual attention, even in group classes, especially beginner sessions so newbies develop a strong foundation of basics. The expansive studio itself is a calming mix of exposed brick, high wood-beamed ceilings, and warm, soft lighting.
The CryoBar
1205 W. Webster Ave., Lincoln Park
The metal cryotherapy tanks found at Lincoln Park’s CryoBar are as futuristic as it gets—and be warned: the thought of being surrounded in a subzero fold of icy fog is a little daunting. But many regulars describe the enveloping cold as a surprisingly pleasant experience, which is meant to release endorphins and produce an anti-inflammatory response that can reduce pain and increase your metabolism. It’s also said to encourage a great night’s sleep. It’s an easy, quick process: Step inside, remove your robe, and after three minutes, you emerge with a body that feels rested and recharged.
Circa Modern
1114 N. Ashland Ave., Ukranian Village
A former architect and auctioneer, respectively, Jared Peterson and Don Schmaltz partnered up to open one of Chicago’s best furniture showrooms in West Town. This is the kind of place where American, Scandinavian, and Italian mid-century modern designs attract interior designers and new home buyers from around the city. You’ll find Eames chairs, Arne Jacobsen flatware, and more obscure finds (there’s an Alvar Aalto tea trolley, for instance), but it’s a good idea to browse the website before making an appointment at the store: Some may not be ready in the showrooms, but a quick call or email ensures that whatever you’d like to see is brought from the warehouse to the shop for your perusal.