Not jetting to the Caribbean this month? Neither am I. Now that Chiberia is over, here are my top picks for “staycationing” in Chicago.
If you wish you were in Costa Rica:
- Visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton) and enter a heated tropical paradise. Walking through the orchids, ferns and koi fish ponds takes you on a little journey to the rainforest. Admission is free, open 9 – 5 every day
If you wish you were in Colorado:
- Trek through the snow on snow shoes or cross country skis at Northerly Island (1521 S. Linn White Dr.). Go after a fresh snow fall, rentals are only $5 and parking is only $2. Low price for some winter action and a gorgeous view of the city skyline. Open select weekends until February 16
If you wish you were in Hawaii:
- Order yourself a Mai Tai or choose from a wide assortment of Tiki cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash (435 N. Clark). Inspired by WWII Morse code signaling “V for victory,” the historical Tiki cocktails welcomed home Allied soldiers, and now they can welcome you too, out of the frosty winter weather. To find the clandestine entrance, wrap around to the back of the building, down an alley and through a blue door. Open till 3 a.m. on Saturdays, you can get tropical all night long
If you wish you were in Memphis:
- Jive to live music at B.L.U.E.S. (2519 N. Halsted) featuring blues acts nearly every night of the week. Typical cover is $5-10 – not bad for live music in the city! Bonus points if you get to know the band
If you wish you were in Cuba:
- “Taste the Forbidden” at 90 Miles, (2540 W. Armitage and 3101 N. Clybourn) the best Cuban café in the city. Great atmosphere and super friendly service enhance your experience, and the menu is fantastic – my favorites include Rabo Encendido (oxtail) and Ropa Vieja (slow-cooked shredded beef). Check their website for daily specials such as live flamenco and pig roasts (and every day is BYOB)
If you wish you were in France:
- Travel to the southern Rhone valley through a tasting of the region’s Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre wines. Visit the WineBar at Plum Market Old Town (1233 N. Wells) on Thursday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m. for a French wine tour tasting – tickets $20
What are your favorite hidden vacation spots in Chicago?