10 Things We Love About Living In Chicago

Illustrated by Tania Lili.
We know that not all of you agreed with our list of ways Chicago could be even more amazing. But, there's no doubt we're all on the same page when it comes to the reasons why we think Chi-town is one of the best cities in the world.
There's the incredible food scene. The stunning architecture. The abundance of cultural institutions. And, don't even get us started on the epic summers. In fact, we found it nearly impossible to whittle down the following list to just 10 things we love about our city.
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Ahead, join us as we engage in a little healthy bragging about the amazing place we all call home. Did your favorite thing about Chicago living make the cut?
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
1. The fact that the James Beard Awards are moving here next year is making a lot of Chicago foodies pound their chests with pride. But, the truth is, there's great — make that amazing — food on all levels everywhere you turn. Between emerging talent and the vast array of ethnic eateries, it's impossible to fall into a dining rut.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
2. From Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Sears Tower to Mies van der Rohe's iconic 860-880 North Lake Shore Drive building to Burnham & Root's visionary Rookery, the incredible architecture in this city is as abundant as it is inspired. If you haven't yet, sign up for a Chicago Architecture Foundation tour or the Wendella Architecture tour — or just jump on the water taxi from the Michigan Avenue stop going south, and drink in the sights from a privileged perspective.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
3. They don't call Chicago the City of Neighborhoods for nothing. Our metropolis is home to no fewer than 200 distinct neighborhoods and 77 community areas. Feel like a bit of Italian culture and dining? Hit Little Italy on Taylor Street, Grand Avenue on the Near West Side, or the Heart of Chicago on Oakley Avenue and 24th Street. Mexican? You'd be hard pressed to visit every to-die-for taqueria in Pilsen or Little Village. Polish? Head up to Belmont-Central. German, Puerto Rican, Ukrainian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, and many more ethnic enclaves flourish.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
4. The open lakefront is so intrinsic to life in Chicago that it's easy to take for granted. But, the fact that almost the entirety of the 18-mile path is open to the public is a rarity among major global cities. (You can read about the genesis of the lakefront in detail here.) The next time you're relaxing on the beach, don't forget to silently thank your forefathers.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
5. Sure, the Mag Mile and Oak and State streets collectively have just about every big-name store you could want — but don't let that detract you from all of the local boutiques and specialty shops that are scattered throughout the city. It's no surprise that Chicagoans embrace local businesses and designers, and with awesome outlets like Storefront and Dose Market (the next one is September 21), we're always in touch with homegrown awesomeness.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
6. The zoo didn't just make our list because admission is always free — but that is a major selling point. Whether you want to take an impromptu detour during a run through Lincoln Park, or you're looking for a Sunday-afternoon date spot, the LPZ never disappoints. If you're feeling extra geeky, check out its website ahead of time for animal-feeding times. Trust us: You haven't lived until you've seen the entire ape family fill up their arms and mouths with fresh veggies.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
7. Griping about public transit is a city pastime, which is natural: It's a huge part of life in Chicago. But, even the most curmudgeonly commuter has to admit that you can pretty much get anywhere you want, and cheaply as well: The El services 145 stations over eight routes and 224 miles of track with 1,356 rail cars, while 1,836 busses serve 11,104 stops. Metra, meanwhile, services 3,700 square miles of northeastern Illinois at 241 rail stations. Plus, we think the newer El cars are nifty. Have $2.25, will travel.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
8. This is another aspect of city living that's easy to take for granted. While nearly every resident appreciates institutions like the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Art Institute, CSO, MCA, Adler Planetarium, and the Grant Park Orchestra at Millennium Park, those are just the tip of the iceberg. From the theater district (often showing Broadway plays before they hit Broadway) to more than 400 annual street festivals showcasing cuisine and music, there is a genuine overabundance of amazing things happening in this town. It's a wonder Netflix does any business here at all.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
9. We couldn't leave this one out — especially since we're crossing the finish line on yet another jam-packed season in the sun. Soon all of those times spent at street festivals, rooftop bars, outdoor concerts, movies in the park, and the beach will be but memories to help us get through another long, Chicago winter. Sigh. But, heck. That's why we appreciate them so much!
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
10. Chicago is the de facto capital of the Midwest and, in many ways, quintessentially Midwestern. While pigeonholing people by region is silly, we do think that Chicago's deep Midwestern roots have helped keep it modest, earnest, hardworking, and polite. We may be a few notches shy of "Minnesota nice," but we're not that far off, either.
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