Chicago Design destinations?

I’m about to embark on a trip to the US to visit some relatives - I hail from there originally but have grown up in Australia I haven’t seen to much of the states, so plan to use the trip to acquaint myself with some sights and culture. Currently the plan is to hit NYC, Chicago, and New Orleans, + relatives in Virginia (near Richmond).

What I’m looking for: Are any must see “design destinations” in those areas? I’ve already flagged Millennium Park in Chicago + MOMA in New York, but other than that I really have no idea what to look for? I know there are a lot of great consultancies but would one visit these places? It’d be good to do something other than just the standard museums and architectural sites…

Any tips would be much appreciated!

(posted this in off-topic as well, wasn’t sure which board to go with…)

It has been eons since I’ve been there, but there are a series of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park. The last time I lived there (20 yrs ago!) they had tours…so, no clue if that is still going on. Oak Park is a bit west of downtown.

There is of course all the museums in Chicago. Art Museum, Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Natural History…all world class museums and worth checking out. The architecture of the city is second to none (for a modern city) and it is worth it to take a boat tour on the Chicago river (just keep your fingers crossed that Dave Matthews isn’t in town).

to go along with the FLW recommendation, there are a lot of Mies van der Rohe designs in Chicago, including the Lakeshore Dr. apartment buildings, and several on the IIT campus.

I don’t know if design firms like to give tours, but off the top of my head, there’s Beyond Design, Streng, and Teams.

If you like architecture, the river tour is a must.

See if you can get a tour of IIT.

Of the museums, MCA is my favorite, ymmv. The Art Institute is the standard.

The Museum of Science and Industry is a $20 cab ride (one way) from the loop.

Lunch at XoCo.

Dinner at Frontera or Sunda.

Italian on Taylor St (Davanti over Francesca’s).

Hipsters in Logan’s Square.

Cubs. Not the Sox.

Luminaire for trendy furniture.

The Merchandise Mart for contract furniture.

Armitage and Halsted for trendy shopping.

Can’t think of a single consultancy that would give a tour.

But only for the stadium. If you want to watch baseball being played, you go to watch the Sox.



You are revealing your lack of indie cred…it’s Logan Square.


Au contraire mon frere.

My lack of typo discipline only reinforces my anti-establishment cred.

Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Either way, Logan’s Square, Logan’s Run, your life ends at 30.

Wow, nice!

As a resident of Logan Square, on and off, since 2007, I’m obligated to come to its defense… but it’s all true.

Once you turn 30, an ironically tatooed mob of underemployed millennials track you down and firebomb your brownstone with mason jar molotav cocktails! They then plant an urban garden in the ashes. I only have a couple years left before they come for me.
But seriously folks, it’s a great place!

As far as Chicago design destinations:

The Guerilla Truck Show is in June, usually coordinates with NeoCon in the Merchandise Mart.

I would recommend taking a ride on the Brown Line EL all the way through the loop and up north, get a nice window seat. You get a great show of being right in the middle of downtown, the river and it takes you through an elevated view of some cool neighborhoods.

There are several design shop/studios in the Fulton Market area. This list isn’t terrific, I know there are more.

Stop into some in restaurants to get a taste of what they’re doing with their interior design and service design. There are a few very well considered places just in just Logan Square: Fat Rice, Longman & Eagle, Lula Cafe. Worth stopping in for at least a cocktail or two.

Very touristy, but still good is the Signature Room in the Handcock building. It’s a bar/restaurant on the 90th floor or something like that. Magnificent view of the city, the lake and far into the horizon. Remember, the Midwest is flat so you can see very very far.

If the weather is nice, stop by a beach in Lincoln Park. Not designy, but it’s very cool to be on a sandy beach and looking out into a fresh water lake that goes on forever, then turn around and see skyscrapers right behind you.

These all seem like super suggestions peeps. I’ll take notes for when I make the trip in August!



Oh, and don’t forget to rent a Segway and ride it along the beach :slight_smile:

I don’t know if they are still doing this or not, but I remember when I was there visiting my Mom back when my daughter was still in a stroller (6-7 yrs ago), I badly wanted to ride one…but that was more b/c I was tired of pushing a stroller :slight_smile:

Frontera was horrible last time I was there, I’d skip it.

Really? That’s too bad.

What was the problem? I’d hate to take them off of my favorites list.

Frontera has a mini location in Terminal 1 of Ohare that’s got it going on.

Well the wait was expected, we knew that was just part of the “experience”, the cool tequila bar helps the wait. I just remember ordering their taco sampler, figured I’d get a nice range of interesting flavors and they were just all lack luster. bland, soggy. meh. then finding out it was $20 or whatever for 3 tiny tacos…I’d rather eat a La Pasadita. I have a good friend that would swear by that place and he said he had similar experiences the last two times he went. Not sure whats going on there.

Actually, there is a great fancy pants Mexican restaurant in Oak Park called New Rebozo that is amazing, so if you’re going there for some FLW, stop in and say hi to Paco, he’s a trip.

Too bad about the so-so tacos. Sometimes the key to a restaurant is ordering the right thing. But I would expect Frontera to excel at everything.

I don’t get to Oak Park that often. Pretty much only when I go to Loyola hospital. I was there a lot earlier this year but that trial is essentially over. I love the Jerusalem Cafe for lunch. Great falafel.

Go to Wicker Park (for real hipsters and to look at tourist looking at hipsters)

Wicker Park/ Logan Square:
Big Star (pseudo- mexican food)
Violet Hour (across street from big star, door is under a single yellow bulb)
Brown Sack (sandwiches)
The Owl
Logan Theater

General North Side:
Beauty Bar (bar)
Bourgeois Pig (food?)
Cycle Smithy (bike shop, with really cool bikes not for sale)
if you do like bikes TATI cycles; small, hidden, expensive.

LOOP north to gold coast:
Inteligensia coffee
Wright Auction house (
Luminaire (it’s a furniture $$$$tore)
Orange skin (just a $$tore)
the Design Within Reach on Ohio st. (super cool space)
art institute
INTUIT art gallery
supposedly there is a design museum in Chicago and it is something around $40 to get into… never been.
Oak Street Beach (or better yet if you like cycling rent a bike and ride the whole path, a lot of neat art along it)
Publican/publican quality meats
Girl and the Goat
Little Goat
The Feild Museum

Shedd Aquarium
Adler planetarium is neat too.

Museum of science and industry

Not in the City:

Ba’hi World Center, Wilmette
Frank Lloyd Wright area in Oak Park
Farnsworth house in Plano (it’s a hike but you already got over here so)

When you are on the road hit up places that are cool, like the Falling water house, or whatever is near you.

If you are going near the Cubs stadium check out Dimo’s Pizza. Mac and Cheese pizza is the best.

wtf does that mean, some how I f*cked up by ordering off their menu? its not like I ordered a cheeseburger.

now you made me go back and look at the menu…

STREET FOOD TRIO: Two pieces each: potosinas (fresh cheese, avocado, crema, Tamazula), empanadas (mushrooms, ham hocks, three chile salsa, queso añejo), sopes (shredded beef, roasted tomato, green chile). $19.75

it sucked.