The 12 things you absolutely must do in Chicago this Spring

Published On 02/05/2014 Published On 02/05/2014
American Junkie
Flickr/Ron Cogswell
Flickr/Mister Queue
Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil
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1. American Junkie 15 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654

American Junkie is a 320-seat, two-floor industrial restaurant and bar, sporting American flags carved everywhere. The food's as American as the decor, with Chef Kendal Duque (Sepia, City Tavern) running the kitchen and turning out awesome meatiness like pork & apple pizza, bison burgers, and shaved prime rib. The dinner menu is worthy of a sit-down trip, but if you're just looking to have a beer and munchies while watching a game, there might be no better place in Chicago. American Junkie claims to have the largest TV in the Midwest -- a 16x8ft 1080i LED behemoth, located on the second floor sunroom -- making it the perfect place to go in springtime to catch March Madness, or in summer to watch the Cubs and White Sox. With 26 beers on tap and a killer bar menu (think grilled octopus, 30-minute wings, and shrimp ceviche), American Junkie has everything you need to distract you from the score of the Cubs game.

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2. Masa Azul 2901 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

For a tequila experience you won't forget, head to Masa Azul. This 50-seat spot serves up nearly 90 different types of tequila varieties. It's not just drinks either, Masa Azul offers great tacos, ceviche, and guac! You know what goes great with Cinco de Mayo? Honestly, any of Azul's nearly 100 tequilas. Narrowing down the list would just be foolish.

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3. Wrigley Field 1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613

Wrigley Field: you definitely heard of it, likely been there, and probably didn't know (alert: trivia) that this 100-year-old stadium was built on grounds once occupied by a seminary. These days, there's less theology on site, more Cubs baseball. That, plus footlong bison hot dogs and chicken + waffle stix served with maple bacon dippin’ sauce. On April 2nd, join the "Party of the Century" celebrating Wrigley Field turning the big 1-0-0, when the Cubs take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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4. The Globe Pub 1934 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613

This Chicago sports bar's known for being a soccer-lover's institution, and they also run a shuttle service to and from Chicago Fire games. This Spring, you won't need to take a bus to get loud rooting for team USA to get revenge on Ghana in the World Cup.

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5. Kayak Chicago 1220 W LeMoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Why walk the crowded streets of Chicago when you can breeze down Lake Michigan in a pint-sized boat they're calling a kayak? Truth: With four locations throughout the city, Kayak Chicago will hook you up with a certified instructor to provide lessons as well as guided tours including an architectural circuit of downtown Chi, plus sunset and super-romantical night paddles. With the weather warming up, it's time to get out of your funky apartment and into a badass boat. Nature: it's great.

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6. The Second City 1616 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60614

If you've ever laughed, chances are you've laughed at someone that came out of The Second City. Alumni of this prestigious comedy school include John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Tina Fey, among many, many others. If you want a career in comedy, train there. If you want a fun night out, catch one of their improv sketch comedy shows (for example: A Clown Car Named Desire), performed just about every night of the week.

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7. Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo 2301 S Lake Shore Drive , Chicago, IL 60616

Trade shows set up regular residence at McCormick Place, including staples like concept car heaven the Chicago Auto Show. But this Spring you can really run free with the Wookies at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), April 25th-27th.

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8. XOCO 449 N Clark, Chicago, IL 60654

Conveniently next door to Top Chef master Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican joints Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, XOCO (derived from Mexican slang for "little sister") is a quick-service cafe with communal tables and a central wood burning oven. The aromas of Bayless' take on classic made-to-order south of the border street fare is sure to draw crowds from all over.

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9. Baconfest Chicago 725 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL 60608

Conventions and trade shows call this University Forum boss when they hit Chicago. With 75,000 square feet of space including a massive, 99-foot-tall exposed steel column that protrudes through the roof, this place is hard to miss at any distance. And forget seeing, you'll be able to smell the nitrates at Baconfest Chicago April 25th + 26th.

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10. 3 Floyds Brewpub 9750 Indiana Pkwy, Munster, IN 46321

What do you get when you combine a 15 barrel brewhouse (that's 465 gallons, in case you were wondering) with three bonafide fermentation tanks? If you guessed beer, you're not wrong. If you guessed a whole lot of beer, you're still not wrong. Three Floyds, located in a one-time office-space-turned-craft-beer-refuge in Munster, IN has been brewing up and selling out of its own ales, lagers, seasonal brews, special small batch projects, and the occasional guest beer, since its inception in 1996, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

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11. Craft Beer Week 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

Besides thousands of plants, Garfield Park Conservatory offers composting 101, beekeeping classes, and a gift shop with handcrafted, gourmet honey gathered from those all-work, no play, conservatory-bred bees. And Craft Beer Week is going down right here at the Conservatory May 16th-26th (yeah, the math does seem a little odd on that and no, we don't mind at all). Get there for $4 tastings of rare beers offered by over 250+ participating venues.