Gay Travel: What Chicago Offers for LGBT Tourists
When a city boasts a neighborhood appropriately named "Boystown", you know you are in for a treat. Although it’s the 3rd largest city in the country in terms of population, Chicago seems vastly different from Los Angeles and New York. Maybe it’s the Midwestern mentality that generates passion and hospitality amongst the locals. Or quite possibly its picturesque border along Lake Michigan is what makes the Windy City a truly magical place.
Getting around Chicago is simple. Guests arriving at either O’Hare or Midway airports can board a train to downtown making transportation virtually painless and inexpensive. Once downtown, visitors can stay at any one of dozens of large hotels or opt for smaller boutiques. I chose to stay at the spectacular Radisson Blu.
The first of its kind in the United States, Radisson Blu, part of Aqua Tower, is a chic, 86-story towering oasis designed by Jeanne Gang near the border of Lake Michigan, which features luxurious guest rooms, state-of-the-art fitness center, conference space and Felini, an Italian-inspired restaurant and bar which was bustling with patrons almost every time I passed by. The hotel is located a short 10-minute taxi ride from Boystown, the heart of the LGBT community.
This fall, the Art Institute of Chicago will present a tribute to Jeanne Gang, the developer of Radisson Blu and Aqua Tower. The exhibition titled, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects will be on display from September 24 until February 24, 2013 in the museum’s Architecture and Design Galleries.
The exhibit will feature over a dozen projects framed around four major issues facing contemporary architecture: its relationship to nature, questions of density, building community, and architecture as performance.
In addition to Aqua Tower, SGA has developed other awe-inspiring projects including the Hyderabad O2, a high-rise community in Hyderabad, India; an ecological revitalization project for Lincoln Park Zoo’s South Pond in Chicago; and Harbor Knot, a concert venue, maritime museum, and public park designed for Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
After an afternoon at the museum, head to Halsted Street, the heart of LGBT activity. The street is lined with dozens of gay bars, shops and restaurants perfect for a gay-getaway. The Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club is a premier destination venue for any occasion. The restaurant offers an innovative martini and cocktail menu, contemporary cuisine, entertainment by the world famous Kit Kat Divas and sleek decor.
Entrees are given names of famous television and movie actors. Standouts include Gregory Peck, wagyu beef meatballs served with whole wheat spaghetti in a tomato-basil sauce. Another great selection is Bea Arthur, a delicious skirt steak accompanied by baby spinach, gorgonzola and bacon with a mustard vinaigrette.
For traditional American fare, visit Halsted’s Bar & Grill where diners can choose from a large selection of starters and entrees including the restaurant’s famous selection of burgers. Some of my favorites included the Brie Mushroom Burger and Halsted’s Homemade Shrimp Burger made with fresh shrimp mixed with peppers, onions and topped with an avocado and herb aioli.