What to Do and See in Chicago
Chicago is a vibrant, exciting city with oodles of things to do and see. We have just hit some of the highlights here to pique your interest and give you a taste of what is available to you in the city. You might want to extend your stay in Chicago in order to explore some of these sights, sounds, gastronomic pleasures and one-of-a-kind attractions. Or, you may wish to encourage a family member or friend to come with you and explore the city while you are at the conference. Chicago can be an exciting part of your whole conference experience.
All Kinds of Tours With a Twist
If this is your first-time visit to Chicago or you want to get a sampling of attractions in one easy outing, then consider taking one of the many tours available in the city. There are: river and lake tours; architecture and museum tours; fun food and drinks tours; walking, jogging, bike and Segway tours; lunch and dinner cruise tours; gangster tours; private guided tours; day and night time tours and everything else that you can possibly imagine. We cannot list them all here but we can give you a sampling of a few of the possibilities.
If you are feeling like burning off some conference energy, try a bike tour!
- Bobby’s Bike Hike Chicago has several tours to choose from.
- Bikes, Bites & Brews — Chicago’s Signature Dishes Bike Tour a 4 hour, 13 mile tour that combines sight-seeing and sampling of Chicago’s finest deep dish pizza, hot dogs, brownies and craft beer.
- The Chicago Bike Tour along Lakefront Trail is a 3 hour, 7 mile tour of the neighborhoods, parks and beaches of the city’s North Side that challenges you to “live like a local.”
- Chicago’s Ultimate City Bike Tour is a 3 hour, 9 mile tour of some of Chicago’s most popular attractions, parks, fountains, museums and skyline views.
There are more offerings to choose from including electric bike tours and nighttime excursions. The tour includes a bicycle, helmet and local tour guide. All tours depart from 540 North Lake Shore Drive (at East Ohio Street), an 18 minute (0.9 mile) walk north-east of the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
Gangster and Ghost Walking Tour
For those who want to explore the infamous side of the city’s checkered past, there is Chicago’s Gangster and Ghost Tours. This two-hour (1.5 mile) walking tour offers a unique glimpse into the headline grabbing history of Chicago’s gangster past. It is a history lesson of a different kind as the hotels, speakeasies, gangland shootings, underground tunnels and haunted crime scenes of the 1920s and 1930s are explored. The tours begin right next to the Royal Sonesta on the corner of East Wacker Drive and North Wabash Avenue.
If you do not want to walk the beat, there is a 1.5-2 hour bus tour available through
Chicago Crime Tours. You relax on a luxury coach as you see where Al Capone, The Untouchables and John Dillinger hung out and visit the iconic gangster landmarks of the city with stops on-and-off the bus for photo opportunities. Historic video footage and live commentary transport you back to the gangster days. To catch this tour, you will have to go a bit farther afield to 163 East Pearson Street -- a 20 minute (0.9 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
Historic and Architecture Walking Tour
You can explore the fascinating history of the city in a 1.5 hour walk to Chicago’s architectural landmarks with Chicago Architecture Center’s — Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time. The architectural history of Chicago is examined by visiting the outstanding architectural treasures of the city in chronological order. From the beginnings of city growth centered on the Chicago River, to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to the architectural technology and innovations that allowed buildings to grow bigger and taller, this tour examines the commercial and cultural heart of the city. Some of the building highlighted include the Page Brothers Building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Old Dearborn Bank, the Chicago Motor Club, the Carbide and Carbon Building, and NBC Tower. This tour departs from the Chicago Architecture Center at 111 East Wacker Drive, a short 7 minute (0.3 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
BigBus Chicago offers one day and two day passes as well as nighttime tours on double-decker busses that offer panoramic views, running commentary and the ability to see some of the top landmark sites in the city. You can stay on the bus for the full two-hour tour or get off to explore any of the 13 sites along the way then hop on the next bus that comes along. You will see such attractions as:
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- John Hancock Center and 360 Chicago
- ‘The Bean’
- The Magnificent Mile
- Field Museum
- Navy Pier
The first stop is just a block (110 meters) away from the Royal Sonesta at the north-west corner of East Wacker Drive and North Michigan Avenue.
Mini Bus Tours
Another option for seeing a broad range of landmark sights in Chicago is See It All Mini Bus Tours. All you have to do is sit back on their comfortable, large-windowed, 12-passenger minibus and be transported to some of the most distinctive neighborhoods and iconic views and sights of the city. There are four photo stops along the way:
- Museum Campus
- Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park
- The Rookery (Frank Lloyd Wright designed)
- Lincoln Park
Your narrated journey will also feature Millennium Park, the Wrigley Building and notable places such as the Gold Coast and Rush Street. This tour departs from 300 East Ohio Street -- a 13 minute (0.6 mile) walk north-east from the Royal Sonesta but they will pick up at most downtown hotels as well.
There are many different companies to choose a river cruise from and we are not about promoting one cruise over another here. What we can tell you is that there are cruises available within a short walking distance of the Royal Sonesta.
- Chicago’s First Lady available just a block away from the Royal Sonesta on the Chicago Riverwalk at 112 East Wacker Drive -- a 6 minute (0.3 mile) walk north-east.
- If you want to venture over the du Sable Bridge to the other side of the Chicago River at 400 North Michigan Avenue (west side) – a 4 minute (0.2 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta -- you can take a Chicago River Architecture Cruise with Wendella Tours and Cruises.
Both are a great way to get a feel for the beauty, vitality and architecture of the city and the crucial role that this amazing river played in the history, commerce and life of the city.
Taste of Chicago Food Tour
See Chicago and eat on the Tastebud Tour’s Taste of Chicago Food Tour. This is a three-hour gastronomic extravaganza (beginning at 11:00 am) into the heart of the delights of Chicago’s unique culinary creations.
- The tour begins at Pizano’s Pizza, pioneers of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza at 61 East Madison Street -- a 9 minute (0.4 mile) walk due south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Then you are off to The Berghoff, the oldest family-run establishment in Chicago specializing in classic German cuisine — “with a twist” — along with their own line of beers.
- Next, it is a stop off at Chicago Kernel and Fannie May Chocolates for the sweet, salty and savory toppers to your feast. If you are too full to enjoy the offering then, there are lots of selections to take away with you for a treat later or gifts for folks back at home.
- The tour ends at Pittsfield Cafe located in a beautiful, Spanish Gothic style atrium in the Pittsfield Building where you can sample a Chicago style hot dog “dragged through the garden”. That’s a short 7 minute (0.3 mile) walk back to the Royal Sonesta to work off some of the tour’s indulgences.
Outstanding World-Class Museums
Chicago is home to 67 incredible museums from the world of art and history, to unique and educational presentations, to the whimsical and quirky view of life and nature, there is something to amuse, educate and inspire everyone. We cannot possibly list them all — we will leave that for you to explore on wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_and_cultural_institutions_in_Chicago).
To give you a sampling of what is waiting for you in Chicago, here is a little bit of information about 10 of the city’s most popular museums. Note that some of these museums require timed tickets arranged in advance.
American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum is the first of its kind in the U.S. devoted to the history and celebration of American writing. There is a reader’s hall, the mind of a writer exhibit, word waterfall, word play and children’s gallery. The museum takes you on a journey to help you to “find your words” and explore those of America’s signature authors. The museum is located at 180 North Michigan Avenue (second floor) -- a short 5 minute (0.2 miles) walk south from the Royal Sonesta.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is sure to fascinate and delight all of the young folks in your system and the adults too! There are activities and exhibits geared to age groups from babies/toddlers to ages 4-8 and 9 plus. Adults cannot participate in all of the activities and play structures but they sure would be fun to see. How can you not love a museum that says – We believe in the power of play. When we play, we learn. We create. We strengthen and grow. Chicago Children’s Museum’s mission is to improve children’s lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. The museum is located at Navy Pier, 700 East Grand Avenue -- a 31 minute (1.5 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
Chicago History Museum
Chicago has a rich and diverse history and the Chicago History Museum tells that story in a series of outstanding collections and exhibits. The museum was founded in 1856 and its history has been tied ever since to that of the city itself. The first museum’s collection was largely destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but soon local benefactors helped to build a new and richly diverse assembly of historic items for public viewing including many items associated with Abraham Lincoln. The museum is located at 1601 North Clark Street -- a 40 minute (1.9 mile) walk or 25 minute transit ride (Brown Line and Red Line) north of the Royal Sonesta.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
The Center for Intuitive and Outsider and Art is a visionary museum that celebrates self-taught artists of folk art and outsider art. There are permanent collections and several exhibits that change throughout the year.
One of the exhibits that may be of particular interest (and will be available at the time of the conference) is entitled — Trauma and Loss, Reflection and Hope.
This museum is located at 756 North Milwaukee Avenue -- a 38 minute (1.8 miles) walk or 30 minute transit ride north-west of the Royal Sonesta.
Museum of Contemporary Photography
The Museum of Contemporary Photography was founded in 1976 so it is a relative youngster amongst the other museums in the city. The museum boasts more that 15,000 objects by 1,500 different artists. Originally focused on contemporary works, the collection has now expanded and includes work by Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and David Plowden. The museum is located at 600 South Michigan Avenue -- a 21 minute (1.0 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
Museum of Illusions Chicago
The Museum of Illusions Chicago is an amazing voyage into a fascinating, visual and sensory world of illusions. There are approximately 80 exhibits to challenge your senses and perceptions like the anti-gravity room, infinity room, rotated room, the vortex tunnel and optical illusions exhibit. This is not a museum for anyone with a queasy stomach or fear of visual distortions but there may be some teens who would get some fun out of their world turned upside down. The museum is located at 25 East Washington Street -- an 8 minute (0.3 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry with 14 acres of hands-on exhibits is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. The building itself is steeped in history and technology as the only building remaining from the 1893 World’s Fair. The exhibits and activity centers include going on board on a World War II German submarine; running in a human-sized hamster wheel; touring a fully-functional eco-friendly home and experiencing a 3-D beating heart. There is a lot of fun and excitement at this museum located at 5700 South Lake Shore Drive -- a 17 minute taxi ride away or about 45 minutes by public transit (the Red Line).
Robie House: A Modern Home
Frank Lloyd Wright described this, one of his architectural masterpieces, as "a cornerstone of modern architecture." Robie House is a guided tour inside and out of Wright’s quintessential Prairie house design. The home was completed in 1910 and is considered Wright’s most famous, ground breaking design and one of the most important buildings of the 20th century appearing on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The house is located at 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue. That is approximately 45 minutes south of the Royal Sonesta via public transit (Red Line).
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago boasts an impressive collection that “spans centuries and the globe.” The museum was founded in 1879 making it one of the “oldest and largest art museums in the U.S.” There are approximately 300,000 works of art in the collection as well as special exhibitions offered every year. The museum is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue -- a 14 minute (0.7 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. This is a diverse collection of artifacts from fossils and natural specimens to out-of-this-world meteorites and gems to mummies and cultural antiquity to a bug's-eye view of the world. There is a lot to explore here and share with curious young ones who will want to stop by and say hi to Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex discovered to date. The museum is located at 1400 South Lake Shore Drive -- a 38 minute (1.9 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta or 30 minute transit ride.
Parks, Vistas and Connecting With Nature
The beauty of Chicago is accented by outstanding parks and natural attractions that bring nature into the built environment of the city. There are 570 parks in the city representing 8.2% of the city’s total acreage. The Chicago River and associated canals, as well as its location on Lake Michigan, make for unique opportunities to relax with nature while enjoying stunning views of the city. Here are some of the parks and associated attractions that you might wish to explore.
The Chicago Riverwalk is literally on the doorstep of the Royal Sonesta and can be viewed from many of the rooms in the hotel. The Riverwalk offers more than just an opportunity to wander along the river and take in the fresh air and waterfront ambience. It’s about a unique urban landscape, opportunities to learn more about the ecology and history of the city, bird watching, exploring the floating wetland gardens, popping into the numerous eateries along the way and snapping pictures of the iconic "twin corn cobs" (the Marina City towers). It is a way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the city just steps away from the conference venue.
Grant Park, known affectionately as "Chicago’s Front Yard" is an immense urban park extending over 312.98 acres of land. The Park extends north-south along the Lake Michigan shoreline adjacent to the Loop and Chicago’s Central Business District. There are some of Chicago’s most notable landmarks located within the park in addition to an 18.0 mile path along the waterfront, sporting facilities, gardens, fountains, artwork and other activity centers. Most noteworthy are:
- Millennium Park
- The Bean -- Cloud Gate
- Maggie Daley Park
- Buckingham Fountain
- Museum Campus
- Adler Planetarium
- Field Museum of Natural History
- Shedd Aquarium
The north-western tip of the park is a short 8 minutes (0.3 mile) walk south from the Royal Sonesta to a 37 minute (1.8 mile) walk to Museum Campus and beyond.
Lakeshore East Park
Lakeshore East Park is a great place to just go and relax in 4.6 acres of open green spaces, gardens, a playground for little people and an interactive water feature. Located at 450 East Benton Place, it is a 16 minute (0.8 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
Lincoln (Abraham) Park
Lincoln Park is Chicago’s largest park located on the shore of Lake Michigan extending over a total of 1,188.62 acres of land. A collection of smaller parks located within Lincoln Park add to the diversity of gardens, facilities and natural beauty of the park. Most notably, this is the location of:
- Lincoln Park Zoo
- Lincoln Park Conservatory
- Theatre on the Lake
- Chicago History Museum
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- North Pond Nature Sanctuary a collection of outstanding statues including one of Abraham Lincoln.
The south-western edge of the park is a 41 minute (2.0 mile) walk north from the Royal Sonesta or approximately 21 minutes by public transit (Brown Line and Red Line).
Special Attractions and Activities
There is always something to do and see in Chicago no matter what time of the year you choose to visit. Listed below are a few of the iconic Chicago attractions and activities that you may wish to check out. For events taking place during your stay in Chicago, go to the Search Events page on the Choose Chicago website.
Buckingham Fountain, located in the center of Grant Park, was dedicated in 1927 and boasts being one of the largest fountains in the world. The fountain, designed in a rococo wedding cake style, is said to represent Lake Michigan with four seahorses representing the four states that border the lake. The fountain was donated to the city by Kate Sturges Buckingham in memory of her brother Clarence Buckingham at a cost of $750,000 (that would be 11,600,000 in today’s dollars). Buckingham Fountain is located at 310 Columbus Drive a 19 minute (0.9 mile) walk south from the Royal Sonesta.
Kathy and Dedra have shown us the way to a great adventure in Chicago at iFLY where you can experience the freedom of flying. It is indoor skydiving but you do not jump out of a plane or fall thousands of feet. You are gently held on a cushion of air with an instructor by your side. You are provided with all of the gear that you need and are given instructions before you step into the experience. iFLY is located at 800 West Scott Street, is a little bit of a walk north-west of the Royal Sonesta – 43 minutes (2.1 mile) – or 20 minutes via the "L" Red Line or 35 minutes by bus.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
The Lincoln Park Conservatory, located in Lincoln Park, is a 3 acre conservatory and botanical garden. The Conservatory itself is a wonder to see – a Victorian Era glass house built in phases between 1890 and 1895. Four display houses – The Palm House, Orchid House, Fern Room and Show Room – feature a host of exotic plants from around the world. The Lincoln Park Conservatory Is located at 2391 North Stockton Drive 57 minute (2.8 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta or a 22 minute public transit (Red Line) ride away.
Lincoln Park Zoo
There is a fun and educational zoo in the heart of Chicago -- the Lincoln Park Zoo -- located within Lincoln Park. This is a small (35 acres) zoo, the fourth oldest zoo in North America and it is free. Some of the exhibits include an Arctic Tundra, Penguin Cove, Macaque Forest, African Journey, Seal Pool, Small Mammal-Reptile House, Birds of Prey, Antelope and Zebra Area and Bear Habitat. The zoo is located at 2204 North Cannon Drive -- a 1 hour 7 minute (3.4 mile) walk or 28 minute transit ride north of the Royal Sonesta.
Navy Pier, is a 3,300 foot-long-pier that is a collection of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, attractions and exhibition facilities. Housed here are the
- Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze
- The Crystal Gardens
- The Chicago Children’s Museum
- Chicago Shakespeare Theater
- Centennial Wheel a 200 foot high vista of the city and Lake Michigan.
Navy Pier is located at 600 East Grand Avenue -- a 31 minute (1.5 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
As a part of your visit to the Museum Campus, you may want to check out the Shedd Aquarium. The aquarium has penguins, sea otters, turtles, beluga whales, octopus, sea lions, jellyfish, reptiles and a whole lot more housed in a natural setting on the shore of Lake Michigan. This would be a great reward for the young ones! The Shedd Aquarium is located at 1200 South Lake Shore Drive -- a 41 minute (2.0 mile) walk south east of the Royal Sonesta or a 24 minute ride by public transit.
The 360 Chicago Experience
One of the most spectacular views of the City of Chicago is found on the 94th floor of what was once called (renamed in 2018), and still known locally as, the John Hancock Center. Here you can get a 360 view of the city from an observation deck 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile. If that is not exciting enough, you can view the city on the TILT thrill ride some 1,030 feet above Chicago. The 360 Chicago Experience is located at 875 North Michigan Avenue, 94th floor an 18 minute (0.9 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
The Bean (Cloud Gate)
Located in Millennium Park, The Bean is one of Chicago’s most popular must-see attractions. Officially titled Cloud Gate, this massive sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor was unveiled in 2004 and instantly became a hit with locals and tourists alike. It’s shiny surface of stainless steel reflects the Chicago skyline and green space and the endless movement of life in the city. The Bean is located at 201 East Randolph Street, a 9 minute (0.4 mile) walk south from the Royal Sonesta.
Willis Tower and The Ledge
The Willis Tower is a 108 story (1,450 foot high) skyscraper that is the third tallest building in the United States and is ranked as the 23rd tallest building in the world. What is unique about the Willis Tower is The Ledge. This is an opportunity to walk out 4.3 feet in a glass box on the side of the tower at 1,353 feet in the air. The Willis Tower is located at 233 South Wacker Drive a 24 minute (1.1 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta.
Sporting Activities Available
If it is a challenge that you want, Chicago offers numerous indoor and outdoor opportunities to fulfill that wish. Below are some of the options within a close walking distance of The Royal Sonesta:
- First Ascent Climbing and Fitness (indoor rock climbing) at 108 North State Street (4th Floor) -- a 13 minute (0.5 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta.
- Maggie Daley Park (outdoor rock climbing) at 337 East Randolph Service Street -- a 14 minute (0.6 mile) walk south-east of the Royal Sonesta.
- There are numerous trails for jogging in Chicago. One of the recommended locations is Millennium Park and Grant Park -- an 8 minute (0.3 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- The Royal Sonesta Fitness Center is a well-equipped fitness center available to guests 24/7 and is just an elevator ride away in the Royal Sonesta.
- Urban Kayaks with two locations -- on the Chicago River at 435 East Chicago Riverwalk, a 12 minute (0.5 mile) walk east, and on the Lakefront at Monroe Harbour, 110 North Lake Shore Drive, a 22 minute (1.1 mile) walk south-east of the Royal Sonesta.
Theatre and Performing Arts
Chicago has a thriving theatre and performing arts community with 250 theaters, five Tony-Award-winning theatre companies and a comedy scene that has launched the careers of comedy legends the likes of Bill Murray, Chris Farley and Tina Fey amongst many others. After a bit of a COVID hiatus, theatres are starting to open back up with music, plays, Broadway shows and laughs. Here is a selection of some of the many opportunities to experience live music and theatre in Chicago.
The Chicago Theatre District
The Chicago Theatre District is found in the heart of downtown Chicago and The Loop. Here you will find Broadway productions, classic and contemporary works as well as architectural, historic and acoustic gems of Chicago’s theatre scene.
- Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Ida B. Wells Drive -- a 19 minute (0.9 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph Street -- a 12 minute (0.6 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta.
- CIBC Theatre, 18 West Monroe Street -- a 12 minute (0.6 mile) walk south-west. of the Royal Sonesta.
- Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn Street, a 7 minute (0.3 mile) walk southwest of the Royal Sonesta.
- James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 West Randolph Street -- a 7 minute (0.3 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta.
Scattered throughout the various neighborhoods of the city are a selection of highly regarded independent theatres.
- Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, 800 East Grand Avenue -- a 29 minute (1.4 mile) or 18 minute transit ride north-east of the Royal Sonesta.
- Lookingglass Theatre, 821 North Michigan Avenue -- a 16 minute (0.7 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 North Halsted Street -- a 54 minute (2.6 mile) walk or 15 minute transit ride on the Red Line, north-west of the Royal Sonesta.
Comedy and Sketch Theatres
Chicago has always been a hub of comedy and improvisational excellence and innovation.
Chicago’s Music and Nightlife
For those who are looking for a little something to take home with you from Chicago, like to window shop or just need to run out and get a few supplies (diet coke, anyone?) here are some shopping suggestions.
Food Store, Deli and Supplies
- Bockwinkel’s, an upmarket grocer open late with a deli (sandwiches) salad bar and prepared foods at 222 North Columbus Drive -- a 10 minute (0.5 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
- Mariano’s groceries with gourmet foods, spirits, bakery, café, deli and pharmacy at 333 East Benton Place, suite 206 -- a 13 minute (0.6 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
- North Loop Market grocery store and deli at 300 North State Street -- a 6 minute (0.2 mile) walk north-west of the Royal Sonesta.
- Target including home goods, pharmacy and Jelly Belly jelly beans at 1 South State Street -- a 10 minute (0.5 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Walgreen’s health and beauty aids, pharmacy and Jelly Belly jelly beans at two close locations, 151 North State Street -- a 6 minute (0.3 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta and 410 North Michigan Avenue -- a 4 minute (0.2 mile) walk north-east.
- Whole Food Market, eco-minded chain with natural and organic grocery items at 255 East Grand Avenue -- an 11 minute (0.5 mile) walk north-east of the Royal Sonesta.
The Magnificent Mile
The Magnificent Mile is the home to boutiques, department stores, multi-story retail centers, restaurants and iconic architectural landmarks. There are more than 450 retailers located here including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Marshalls, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. This shopping district extends along North Michigan Avenue between The Michigan Avenue Bridge to Oak Street. The southern edge of the Magnificent Mile is a 4 minute (0.2 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta while the northernmost point of the district is a 19 minute (1.0 mile) walk away.
The Magnificent Mile is anchored by three major shopping centers each with their own unique character, retailers and shopping experience.
- 900 North Michigan Shops is at 900 North Michigan Avenue -- an 18 minute (0.9 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- The Shops at North Bridge at 520 North Michigan Avenue -- a 9 minute (0.4 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Water Tower Place at 835 North Michigan Avenue -- a 17 minute (0.8 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
Yes there is ... yes there is ... yes there is ... a LEGO store in the Magnificent Mile within close walking distance of the Royal Sonesta. So, get your wish list together and buy your young ones a Chicago souvenir that they will have fun building. The store is located at Water Tower Place -- a 17 minute (0.8 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
Other Stores For Kids On the Magnificent Mile
- American Girl Place found in Water Tower Place, 835 North Michigan Avenue -- a 17 minute (0.8 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Galt Baby, 900 North Michigan Shops, 900 North Michigan Avenue -- an 18 minute (0.9 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Squishable found in Water Tower Place, 835 North Michigan Avenue -- a 17 minute (0.8 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- The Disney Store, 717 North Michigan Avenue -- a 13 minute (0.6 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
If you want to take home a Chicago souvenir, here are some options.
- Bye Bye Chicago at 320 North Michigan Avenue (front) -- a 3 minute (0.2 mile) walk around the block from the Royal Sonesta.
- State Street Souvenirs, 108 North State Street, #138 -- a 12 minute (0.5 mile) walk south-west of the Royal Sonesta.
- My Chicago! at 28 South Michigan Avenue -- an 11 minute (0.5 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Chicago Athletic Association Gift Shop at 12 South Michigan Avenue -- an 11 minute (0.5 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Souvenir City Chicago at 393 East Illinois Street, # ½ -- a 13 minute (0.6 mile) walk north-east of the Royal Sonesta.
Chicago’s Famous Gastronomic Delights
The Royal Sonesta has its own, onsite dining room – Hoyt’s American Tavern – so you need never leave the hotel for your dining needs. If you want to venture out for something different, there are numerous restaurants within a short walking distance of the hotel (many offer deliver service as well). For food delivery service, you can check out DoorDash and UberEats.
Please note that: the Conference will be providing some food/snacks throughout the weekend, so some of your food budget will already be included in your Conference Registration package.
Here is a selection of eateries within an approximate four block radius of the Royal Sonesta.
Breakfast and Lighter Fare
- Burrito Beach 233 North Michigan Avenue.
- Chick-fil-A 177 North State Street Suite 1A.
- Corner Bakery 360 North Michigan Avenue.
- Just Salad 111 East Wacker Drive.
- Land and Lake Kitchen 81 East Wacker Drive.
- Nutella Cafe 189 North Michigan Avenue
- Pittsfield Cafe 55 East Washington Street.
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop 190 North State Street.
- Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe 130 East Randolph Street.
- Yolk – Marina City 340 North State Street.
Bars and Taverns
- Chicago Brewhouse Riverwalk 33 East Riverwalk.
- Columbus Tap 200 North Columbus Drive.
- Elephant and Castle 185 North Wabash Avenue.
- Emerald Loop Bar and Grill 216 North Wabash Avenue.
- London House Rooftop Bar 85 East Wacker Drive.
- Raised/An Urban Rooftop Bar 1 West Wacker Drive.
- Siena Tavern 51 West Kinzie Street.
- Sweetwater Tavern and Grille 225 North Michigan Avenue.
- The Dearborn 145 North Dearborn Street.
- Bongiorno’s Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria 405 North Wabash Avenue.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill 316 North Michigan Avenue.
- Filini Bar and Restaurant 221 North Columbus Drive.
- Giordano’s 130 East Randolph Street.
- naf naf Middle Eastern Grill 326 North Michigan Avenue.
- Tokyo Lunch Boxes and Catering 111 East Wacker Drive.
- Parlor Pizza Bar River North 405 North Dearborn Street.
- Pizzeria Portofino 317 North Clark Street.
- Star of Siam 11 East Illinois Street #1.
- The Purple Pig Restaurant 444 North Michigan Avenue.
Seafood and Steak Restaurants
- Fisk & Co 225 North Wabash Avenue.
- McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks 1 East Wacker Drive.
- Morton’s The Steakhouse 65 East Wacker Place.
- Ocean Prime 87 East Wacker Drive.
- Prime & Provisions Steakhouse 222 North LaSalle Street.
- Remington’s Restaurant 20 North Michigan Avenue.
- Shaw’s Crab House 21 East Hubbard Street.
- Smith & Wollensky 318 North State Street.
- The Palm 232 East Wacker Drive.
Chicago Specialties To Sample, Savour and Maybe Even Take Home With You
Chicago is noted for many iconic foods many of which put a city spin on an American classic. According to the Choose Chicago website, the top five Chicago must try foods include:
- Deep dish pizza
- Chicago style hot dogs
- Italian beef
- Garrett popcorn
- Rainbow ice cream cone
Other websites include such tasty foods as Chicago style barbecue, jibarito sandwich, steak, pizza puffs, flaming saganaki and brownies. Many of these gastronomic delights can be found at the many eateries located in close proximity to the Royal Sonesta. To find some of the other Chicago specialties, check out these locations.
Chicago-Style Hot Dog
So, what makes a Chicago-style hot dog special? It is a steamed, all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun. But, what makes it Chicago special is when it’s “dragged through the garden”. That would be yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and celery salt. Do not ask for ketchup – that is not allowed! Here’s where you can try one of Chicago’s finest hot dogs within walking distance of the Royal Sonesta.
To experience Chicago’s famous “rainbow cone” you will have to venture out to Navy Pier and the Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Shop at 600 East Grand Avenue a 31 minute (1.5 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta. If that is too far to go for a frozen dairy treat, then try:
- Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop 400 North Michigan Avenue -- a 4 minute (0.2 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Red Mango 151 East Randolph Street -- a 6 minute (0.3 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- Sweet Home Gelato 151 West Riverwalk South -- a 9 minute (0.4 mile) walk west of the Royal Sonesta.
Chicago-style popcorn is not to be missed! From cheddar cheese, spicy cheese or bacon cheddar to BBQ, pizza or salt and vinegar to pecan, macadamia, cashew or almond caramel crisp to just buttery delicious popcorn, Chicago offers a unique gastronomic experience of the popcorn kind.
This is not on the list of Chicago specialties but we know that it is on the list of "must haves" for some folks so here are some suggested locations to get your chocolate fix or perhaps a tasty treat to take home with you.
- Fannie May Fine Chocolates 343 North Michigan Avenue -- a 5 minute (0.2 mile) walk east of the Royal Sonesta.
- Kilwins 310 South Michigan Avenue -- a 17 minute (0.7 mile) walk south of the Royal Sonesta.
- L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates 609 North State Street -- an 11 minute (0.5 mile) walk north of the Ryal Sonesta.
- Leonidas Café Chocolaterie 59 East Chicago Avenue -- a 16 minute (0.7 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- ROYCE’ Chocolate in Downtown Chicago at the Shops at Bridge North, 520 North Michigan Avenue -- a 9 minute (0.4 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.
- Venchi 43 East Ohio Street -- a 9 minute (0.5 mile) walk north of the Royal Sonesta.