When exploring a new city, I don’t want to waste any time. Show me the cutest coffee shops and the best dinner spots. I want to know which parks are great for picnics and a long list of the must-see attractions. If we’re being honest, Yelp just doesn’t cut it for me. I want something more focused toward my age group. I’m looking for an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, a meal that shocks my taste buds, and at a reasonable price that allows me to consider ordering another round of drinks.
I recently went to Chicago for the first time and would dare to claim I hit the jackpot. By using my usual “travel tricks” I arrived at the airport with my iPhone notes filled with several spots I was dying to check out. All of them found with a little (or a lot) of help from Instagram. By using the app wisely, you can find amazing spots to check out no matter where your destination is.
1—Find local bloggers. Local bloggers are always hungry for the next It spot, and will always be sure to sniff it out first. They can typically be found frequenting at any and every Instagram-worthy restaurant, so don’t forget to pack your Polaroid camera and your Ray-Bans. Start your google search with “Chicago fashion bloggers,” and pick a few that appeal to your style. Don’t hesitate to scroll down for miles, they’ve probably ventured quite a bit.
2—Stalk foodie Instagrams. For this trip, I typed “Chicago foodie” into Instagram’s search bar and was definitely not disappointed. This led me to the majority of restaurants I tried, and boy, were they good. Popular foodie Instagrams have a great variation of restaurants which is much needed when you are dining with a large group or your family that’s all ages. Once your group has decided on a cuisine, simply stalk a place that looks delish and grab a cab!
3—Scope out the location on Instagram. Let’s say you find a brunch spot on Yelp that has 4/5 stars. Not entirely convinced? Find the restaurant’s geotag on Instagram to see what everyone is posting. Perhaps their signature dish is to die for, and those posting can vouch for it. Scrolling through these pictures always gives you a good taste of what to expect, as well as great suggestions for what to order.
4—Ask and you shall receive. Always, always, always call your location! That gorgeous rooftop bar might not open until 5 p.m, or is booked that evening for an event. Your brunch spot might typically have an hour wait on Sundays, but perhaps they let you call ahead and put your name down. You never know. The hunt for great spots doesn’t stop when you’ve arrived—it has only begun. Grill your server about her or his favorite spots, and maybe you’ll find a great hole in the wall. As we all know, Chicago is known for their deep dish pizza. And after our chatty breakfast waiter told us we were wasting our time if we didn’t have dinner at Lou Malnati’s, that’s precisely what we did. Definitely worth the massive food baby I developed after scarfing down slice after slice.
Last but not least, don’t forget your essentials. My personal favorite is this leather wallet from Rebecca Minkoff. It’s a wallet, phone case, and a portable charger all in one. Talk about a travel must-have.
So now that I’ve shared my secrets, you share yours! Comment below!