Chicago’s central location makes it a prime spot for road trips, and you needn’t travel far, since the large city offers ample opportunities for exploring. We spoke to Kristen Klus, chef concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, to find out where to go to see the city’s best green spaces, architecture and more.
TRIP 1: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago to the North Shore
Distance: 34 miles
This drive is less about the destination and more about getting there. The road trip north on Lake Shore Drive, one of the most scenic roads in the city, showcases both the natural beauty of the area and nostalgic old-time Chicago. You will see beautiful Lake Michigan and a surprising number of beaches along the way. When leaving the hotel, turn left onto Michigan Avenue, immediately getting into the right lane to access the “Outer Drive” (Lake Shore Drive). Stay on Lake Shore Drive until it ends and take the road as it winds through the beautiful architecture of the North Shore.
Where to stop off: A visit to the beaches is a must. Montrose Beach has the easiest parking access. Snap photos of the skyline or have a beverage at the simple outdoor beach café. Then continue on, going past the Ba’hai temple — one of only seven in the world — in Wilmette. If you’re a movie buff, add a detour to see the red-brick Home Alone house in Winnetka.
Where to eat: Stop at Edzo’s Burger Shop in Evanston. It’s an old-fashioned burger and shake shop near Northwestern University’s campus.
Best view: Don’t miss the beach coast, either at Montrose or Hollywood Beach.
Best landmark: Make a quick detour off of Lake Shore Drive to go past Wrigley Field, one of the city’s most beloved landmarks. Exit at Irving Park Road and take that to Clark Street and turn left. Wrigley is four blocks down on the left. After driving by the ball field’s iconic red sign, hang a quick left onto Addison Street and take that back to inner Lake Shore Drive. Turn left again to head back toward Irving Park and return to the original route.
TRIP 2: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago to the South Shore
Distance: 18 miles
To see Chicago’s world-class architecture, hop in the car for a drive along the city’s southbound lake coast. From the hotel, turn right onto Michigan Avenue. Drive down Michigan — also called the Magnificent Mile, the city’s best upscale shopping strip — until you hit Ohio Street and then make a left. Next, hang right on Fairbanks Court and follow that across the river until the road turns into Columbus Avenue. Continue on Columbus all the way to Roosevelt Road, where you’ll turn left to enter Lake Shore Drive and travel southbound. Along the way, you’ll pass by Buckingham Fountain — one of the largest fountains in the world — and get an eyeful of the beautiful coastline.
Where to stop off: Promontory Point in Burnham Park, a man-made peninsula that juts out into the water and allows for spectacular views of the city
Where to eat: There isn’t a great grab-and-go option along this route, so have a hearty meal at the hotel’s seasonal modern American restaurant Allium before setting out.
Best view: Promontory Point or a stop on McFetridge Drive on the Museum Campus
Best landmark: Buckingham Fountain
TRIP 3: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago to Wrigley Field
Distance: 9 miles
Chicago is home to some of the country’s best skyscrapers in (Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, Trump Tower), but don’t let them overshadow its fantastic parks. This trip will send you on a leisurely drive through some of the best green outdoor space in the city. From the hotel, make a left on Michigan Avenue and keep left for the ramp to go north along Lake Shore Drive. Turn left at LaSalle Drive to ride through Lincoln Park and then go right onto Clark Street to visit Wrigley Field. When it’s time to head back, take Addison Street to Lake Shore Drive and continue south until you hit the hotel.
Where to stop off: On Wednesdays and Saturdays, stop at Green City Market, an outdoor farmers market that’s a favorite of Chicago’s top chefs. And on the off days, grab a Chicago-style hot dog with a side of sass at the Weiner Circle in Lincoln Park.
Best view: During the southbound drive on Lake Shore, admire the city skyline.
Best landmarks: Lincoln Park Zoo — one of the last remaining free zoos in the country — and Wrigley Field
Experience these road trips in a Porsche when you stay at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago between June 14 and July 12, 2014 — take one of four Porsche vehicles out for a two-hour spin during the Chicago stop of Porsche Destination Drives.
Photos Courtesy of mind frieze and Four Seasons