Take a tour of The Windy City’s many hot spots with Blues Musician, Mike Ledbetter.
Chicago is home to many firsts, from the city’s own unique style of architecture to the blues to pizza, and native Mike Ledbetter wants you to try it all. “There’s a beauty to Chicago that includes a marriage between stunning architecture surrounded by nature, and the grittiness of a storied, weathered city.”
Where to start your day
Begin your day at Beatrix. “This place has my favorite breakfast by far in the city,” the musician states. Fresh squeezed juices and braised pot roast with eggs should set you right for a full day of activities. The interior space at Beatrix, located in Chicago’s River North district, is sleek and contemporary, much like the fare. With daily pour-over specials, honey cinnamon lattes and “Iced Banana Joes”, the coffee menu reads like stylish craft cocktails, which Beatrix also does quite well.
But first, stash your bags
If you’re in need of lodging, “The West Loop is ideal for finding the beauty of Chicago’s downtown, as well as the best restaurants,” he insists. Find plenty of stylish rooms and rates to choose from, like the Publishing House Bed & Breakfast, which is in--you guessed it--a former publishing house. The West Loop attracts many visitors and locals alike, thanks to the downtown influx of former factories and warehouses that have been refurbished into lofts and hip restaurants.
Taking an architecture boar tour on the Chicago River near the West Loop
Where to get in touch with nature
Head to Grant Park to lay in the grass and take in the surrounding nature in the spring and summer months. “Great people watching, too,” the musician offers. With the downtown business district and Monroe Harbor as the backdrop to the lush outdoor space, as well as access to the incredible Art Institute of Chicago, there’s an abundance of sights and sounds to get lost in.
Where to stop for lunch
“The Eleven City Diner is my ideal lunch spot,” he says of an eatery that offers traditional American deli grub in a vintage soda fountain setting. Eleven City is located right off of Grant Park, in the Central Station area. A perfect place to refuel after a lengthy museum visit.
Check out the view
Get a jolt of exhilaration at the Skydeck of Willis Tower (also known as Sears Tower) for some of the best cityscape views and enviable Instagram photos.
Taking in the thrilling views from Skydeck Chicago
Where to hear the Chicago Blues
For epic music inspiration visit B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted for which Ledbetter claims is, “Legendary--everything about this establishment--especially for a blues musician.” Here, guests get to be up close and personal with their favorite musicians in this cozy, intimate space. Across the street from B.L.U.E.S. is Kingston Mines, another music venue along Chicago’s “Blues Alley” with a melting pot of young, old and diverse blues lovers, all having a great time together.
An intimate performance of Chicago blues music
Chicago is packed with art and culture institutions from the Art Institute of Chicago to Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago Theatre, just to name a few.
The interior of the Chicago Theatre
Go deep for dinner
For dinner, try Lou Malnati’s, which Ledbetter claims is “the ULTIMATE Chicago experience”, as it’s been a family run, deep dish joint turning out some of Chicago’s best pizza pies since 1971. Malnati’s is so popular in fact, that the restaurant regularly ships their deep dish specialties across the nation to those in need of a pizza in Portland that only Chicago can produce.