Positioned on the shores of magnificent Lake Michigan, Chicago is like the New York City of the Midwest. Those who find themselves in Chicago for a travel nurse assignment will be dazzled with all the city has to offer when it comes to art, entertainment, sports, dining and so much more. Some of the country’s most iconic skyscrapers line the lakefront, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. Surrounding the ground floors of these architectural masterpieces is a bustling downtown scene just bubbling with international flair and big-city adventure, as well as a ton of polite Midwesterners. Here’s our guide to help you get acquainted with The Windy City.
Let’s face it, if you’re going on a travel nurse assignment in Chicago, you need to try the city’s most famous food – deep dish pizza. Now, there are literally thousands of restaurants offering deep dish pizza in Chicago, and you could spend all day arguing over which one is best. There are so many pizzerias offering five-star fare, it’s hard to settle on a favorite. One of your best bets, however, is Giordano’s. They offer multiple locations, and each one has a warm and inviting hardwood décor that’ll comfort you the moment you walk in the door. If you aren’t familiar with the term “cheese-pull,” just ask your server to explain it. If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll want to relearn this term again and again.
Sometimes you want more than just a meal… you want an experience. And The Signature Room at the 95th offers just that. Located on the 95th floor of the infamous John Hancock Center building, the restaurant offers diners a spectacular view of the city, especially at night. A popular site for marriage proposals and other special occasions, The Signature Room at the 95th has received numerous accolades since its opening in 1993, including “Most Romantic Restaurant” and “Best View,” as well as a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award of Excellence recognition every year since 1994. Arrive for your reservation early so you can check out their equally famous bar just upstairs on the 96th floor.
Why settle for just a hot cup of joe when you can enjoy it with a totally tubular 80s vibe? The Wormhole Coffee is casual yet kitschy, offering caffeinated selections with names like The Chronic, Honey Bear, Cool But Rude and Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa. Bring your laptop or cellphone to relax on a couch while you enjoy the 80s posters, classic Nintendo games and comic books and even a life-size Delorean. The Wormhole is an excellent place for people-watching and just chilling in general. In addition to its totally rad coffees and teas, this unique café also serves a variety of tasty treats in case you get the munchies.
If you’re a both a travel nurse and a beer aficionado, you’ll want to make a pitstop at Monk’s Pub. Located in Chicago’s infamous Loop, this pub offers one of the best beer selections in Chicago, with 150-200 options available at any given time. Sixteen taps that change daily offer a different draft beer selection every time you visit. The Midwest is famous for its bar food, and the selection at Monk’s Pub is no exception. Their burgers are the talk of the town, but they also offer mouthwatering appetizers like chicken wing dip, loaded tater tots, and a homemade chili that will ruin you for any other recipe. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most beloved museums in the country, if not the world. It’s located right on Lake Michigan near many other tourist favorites, so it’s especially convenient for a day of sightseeing. Some of its most well-known works include Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Two Sisters. You’ll also find masterpieces by Edward Hopper, Vincent Van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Any Warhol, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many others. Spend the day exploring on your own or take a tour and be guided through cityscapes, impressionism, animals, African diaspora, fashion, pop art, mythology and more.
New York City has The Empire State Building, and Chicago has the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, formerly the John Hancock Observatory. You’ll marvel at the 360 degree view of the city from the 94th floor that captures the lakefront shoreline, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, the world-famous Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, and so much more. A variety of interactive touch screens and educational exhibits let you learn about points of interest throughout the city. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you’ll want to try “The Tilt,” which provides the most fearless visitors an extra thrill with an added 30-degree tilt out and downward toward the view 1,000 feet below.
There’s probably no image photographed more in Chicago than the city’s infamous Cloud Gate sculpture, otherwise known as “The Bean.” The seamless, mirrored, kidney-bean-shaped work of art is a wonder to simply observe, but it also helps you create some extremely creative photography. Walk all the way around and even underneath Cloud Gate to capture reflections of the sky, the cityscape, fellow sightseers or even yourself at interesting angles with various levels of distorted perspective. The park also features an ice-skating rink during winter, an excellent view of the city’s skyscrapers, and is home to Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a bandshell and itself a work of art, designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry.
Travel nurses on assignment in Chicago won’t want to miss a trip to the top of tallest building in Western Hemisphere! Skydeck Chicago – The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) provides a 360-degree view that lets you see up to 50 miles and four states on a clear day. But when it comes to photography that will make your social media feed the center of attention, you’ll need to step out onto “The Ledge.” These clear glass balconies extend 4.3 feet outside the building to create a thrilling experience and some truly awe-inspiring photos. Using just the right angles, you can create the illusion of your subjects floating peacefully adrift 1,353 feet above the Windy City. What’s not to “like?”