What It’s Like To Visit Chicago Right Now

When will this all be over and when will travel be safe again? These are questions that are top of mind for many of us as we navigate a new normal, which includes ever-changing quarantine and health guidelines for work and play. International borders continue to be closed and the pandemic has made traveling problematic, however, one thing is for certain: Americans are still traveling; we’re just doing it within our own orbit, hopefully adhering to safety protocols. And, if you’re from the Midwest, chances are, you’ll want to journey to Chicago, home of deep dish pizza, multiple parks, an expansive lake front, and impressive architecture.

There’s something resilient and hopeful about exploring in our own back yard, seeing places we might have previously overlooked and are now considering with a fresh perspective and sense of adventure. Of course, you’ll have to do your due diligence and learn what the current safety measures are as well as what’s open or closed, but, in the end, it’s worth a little research to be able to gain meaningful experiences in this dynamic city.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go kayaking down the Chicago River, for example. Or maybe you’ve pondered picnicking in Lincoln Park. Has biking along the 18.5-mile-long Lakefront Trail or The 606 been on your must-do list?

Art lovers may have dreamed of exploring Pilsen’s Mexican-American culture through the neighborhood’s food, music, and outdoor mural art. Or, perhaps, you’re itching to see the new Monet and Chicago exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (from now until January 18). The point is, there’s much to see and do, even now during this challenging time when we need to approach travel cautiously.

Where to Stay:

Cubist-inspired, The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, the flagship property for the brand, is well-located in the River North neighborhood, near Navy Pier, the Chicago River, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the lake front. Enjoy a massage at Spa Boutique and a meal at I|O Godfrey rooftop lounge.

Downtown Chicago’s Hotel Julian is situated within walking distance to Millennium Park in the Loop neighborhood. You’ll have easy access to the Lake Michigan shoreline and Grant Park. See the Cloud Gate—also known as “The Bean”—sculpture, the Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, and the BP Pedestrian Bridge. Be sure to make reservations and dine at the hotel’s About Last Knife Restaurant, a modern gastro pub and steak bar with beautiful lighting, spaced out seating, and street views.

The Langham Chicago is a luxurious haven, with plush accommodations and water views. You’ll enjoy sipping in-room espresso while watching boats cruise down the Chicago River, in the heart of the city. Indulge in world-class dining at Travelle at The Langham, where seasonal delights pepper the menu. Well-designed rooms and suites are complete with signature amenities and little pink stickers that prove everything has been cleaned and sanitized just for your arrival. Book a relaxing massage or facial treatment at Chuan Spa and take a dip in the 67-foot swimming pool.

Safety Protocols:

Chicago hotels adhere to exacting health and safety protocols to keep guests and staff safe. As of October 1, Chicago is currently in phase IV for reopening businesses in a staggered approach.

Face masks are required in hotels and in all public spaces and you’ll need to stand at least six feet apart from others where possible.

Daily housekeeping has been eliminated to decrease contact between staff and guests. Increased sanitation and cleaning guidelines have been implemented.

Restaurants and bars are open with a reduced capacity and you’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time. Most menus are single-use or offered online only. You’ll need to wear a mask when walking around the restaurant and when not eating or drinking.

Valet parking, for many hotels, has been canceled. (The Langham Hotel does offer valet parking.)

You’ll notice an increase in safety protocol signage, encouraging guests to wear masks, stay six feet apart, and wash and sanitize hands.

Hotels take staff temperatures on a regular basis and monitor the health of their employees.

Hand sanitizing stations have been placed in high-traffic areas of the hotels.

Socially distant, or completely virtual, check-in procedures are the norm.

What to Pack:

Make sure you pack a mask and wear it when you’re indoors—The Barrier Method makes travel-friendly stylish face coverings that are anti-microbial.

Consider using an eco-friendly backpack and rolling case luggage set from Solo New York, made from recycled and biodegradable materials.

If you’re feeling extra cautious about dining out in hotels, bring along Muniq travel packs and make a healthy shake in your room. Muniq supports the Black community, often underrepresented in the health and wellness space.

Bring along a reusable water bottle like the Nalgene Sustain, made from 50% recycled materials—the equivalent of eight recycled single-use plastic bottles.

Title Nine makes versatile clothing that you can move in, which will keep you warm and comfortable when you’re out and about wandering Chicago.

Finally, while hand sanitizing stations are located throughout public spaces in Chicago hotels, you’ll want to be sure to have some with you that is at least 60% alcohol for when proper hand washing with soap isn’t accessible.

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