When I see the tourists rushing around Chicago, I have to stop and smile. I love the idea of people visiting my city and exploring it the same way I do. I even find myself stopping every now and then to offer them a few helpful tips, and I love telling people what to do and where to go in the hopes that they'll see my Chicago the way I do.
So many people come to the area for the amazing shopping, but far too many of these people only hit the “Magnificent Mile” on N. Michigan Avenue. When I want to avoid the crowds, I head over to the Ukrainian Village. Located just a short walk from downtown, this is one of the hippest shopping areas in the city. Anyone who lives for vintage clothing should hit up Very Best Vintage or Penelope's, and those looking for ecofriendly pieces will love the designs at the Green Boutique. The Magnificent Mile certainly is magnificent, but there are many other hotspots in the city like the shops in the Ukrainian Village.
New York City might be home to the actual Broadway show, but Chicago residents know that our Broadway is a wonderful experience! Broadway in Chicago is home to five great theaters, and it brings in some of the best traveling shows in the world. Millions of people hit these shows every year, and with new shows always turning up, you never know what you might see. This is a great way to spend an evening amongst family, friends, or even just by yourself to truly take in a wonderful play.
Don't forget about the incredibly delicious deep-dish pizza. Ike Sewell came to the city and opened the Pizzeria Uno years ago, and the restaurant still uses his top-secret recipe. While Pizzeria Uno is better known now as a nation wide chain, it was the first restaurant in Chicago that popularized deep-dish pizza. Once you take a bite of the rich, cheesy, Chicago-style pizza from Uno, you'll never want to eat a thin crust pizza again!
Taking in the Chicago skyline and the spectacular architecture is thrilling. So many of the buildings are rich in history, whether they survived the infamous Great Chicago Fire or were part of the city that was rebuilt in the late 1800s. Many of the hotels in Chicago are part of this history, and I’ve found gogobot is the best site to research where to stay in Chicago. If choosing a spot filled with history is not your main interest, there are numerous other places you can find in the heart of downtown with views of the city that are also close to the action.
I want my Chicago to be your Chicago. Come for our famous deep-dish pizza, and stay for the amazing shopping opportunities, gorgeous skyline and powerful theater shows and plays.
Now, I'd like to introduce you to my hometown:
Nestled between the Ohio River and the mighty Mississippi River, in Alexander County, southernmost tip of Illinois, is my town. Tamms, Illinois, with a population of 750, is the little village where we have lived since 1981 and raised our children. We have no stoplights, no superstores and only one restaurant, still this small town is a great place to live.
Where everybody knows your name.
I love the atmosphere of my home town. Tamms has a rural feel to it; in fact, my home on the edge of the city limits is surrounded by cornfields. We're small town America here. Life is lived at a slower pace. We have a bank, a post office, a convenience store / gas station, a small variety store, two funeral homes and Tom's Place which features home-style cooking. Basically, the town is closed up for the night by 7 p.m.
My town boasts five churches (three right in the village boundaries) and the only tavern closed months ago due to a lack of business.Tamms has two parks, one with a shelter for town barbecues and church picnics. The other park is newer and has softball fields, playground equipment and an awesome walking trail. There are war memorials and an historic train depot that has been renovated and has become our Village Hall.
Close to many scenic attractions.
What I love most about Tamms is the easy proximity to many parks and recreational areas to offer. My husband and I love to go on road trips visiting parks and historical sites. Many are within a hundred mile radius of our home.
If you're interested in history, Columbus Belmont Park in Columbus, Kentucky, is only 45 miles away. It features gorgeous views of the Mississippi River and has a small Civil War museum. Travel 39 miles to Metropolis and see Fort Massac on the Ohio River and tour the stockade. Less than 20 miles travel will take you to historical sites such as Thebes, Cairo, and Jonesboro.
If you are a peace lover, you could travel to Bald Knob Hill through a winding road featuring orchards and wineries and see the Cross of Peace standing majestically on the highest peak shining its light for miles.
Hikers love to visit Ferne Clyffe State Park in Goreville or Giant City State Park in Makanda. Garden of the Gods in Golconda has some incredible views. The Shawnee Forest covers many miles of Southern Illinois. The Cache River wetlands and the Oakwood Bottoms are home to this area as well. Nature enthusiasts can find an abundance of flora and fauna to view. Horseshoe Lake and many goose-hunting camps offer hunters a great place to try their luck.
Shoppers and antique enthusiasts alike can also enjoy our little piece of Southern Illinois. Carbondale, IL, Cape Girardeau, MO, and Paducah, KY, are all less than an hour's drive and feature malls, antique shops, flea markets and little hole-in-the wall shops where you might find a treasure!
Come visit Southern Illinois and see why I love where I live!
Thanks to Kendra Thornton for sharing tips to ensure a fabulous visit to Chicago. Kendra Thornton appears as a travel expert on television stations across the country to offer travel tips and deals to millions of people every year. She makes regular appearances on ABC, NBC and CW stations in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. She has also made special guest appearances on The Nate Show, Fine Living Network and The Tyra Banks Show.