Chicago: The Old, The Bold, and The Grand

Hugging the west shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago embodies stark dichotomies. Its story remains a tale of two cities, but a welcomed twist is now charting thrilling, novel possibilities. For decades, the Windy City has reeled in a gritty reputation of violence, drugs and penury. The days when it dominated the headlines with its crime rates, however, seem to belong to an old calendar.

In 2017, Chicago welcomed a record number of 54 million tourists, a tally that has edged upward for the last couple of years. Unfolding in full swing, the exhilarating renaissance that is sweeping Chicago rests on features that are predictably old and, at the same time, excitingly new. For years, Chicago’s architecture has been lovely, its cuisine delectable, its museums renowned, its culture rich. Today, larger and larger crowds are rediscovering them in a manner that appears to suggest genuine appreciation.

SWISSGEAR 6572Limited Edition Hardside Spinner

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Before You Head To Chicago

The most populous metropolis in the Midwestern United States, Chicago enjoys a propitious location. Several major interstate roads snake in and out of the region, while O’Hare International often dominates the rankings for the busiest airports in the world. Whether you drive or fly, going to Chicago should be a smooth ride. Arriving, ready to tackle the whims of the season, though, requires some thoughtful preparation. Albeit warm, spring often unleash pouring rainfalls and summer sizzle in humidity. Fall provide a quick transition, where hot and cold compete, before winter barrage frigid temperatures.

In other words, dress for the weather, and bring a couple of outfits to comply with any unexpected meteorological shifts, which is easier said than done. Packing is often the most arduous and least enjoyable part of any vacation when it entails putting together and schlepping extra ensembles. The SWISSGEAR 6572 limited collection of hardside spinner luggage can ease the process. Rendered in jet black or pearly white, the cases range in dimensions from a carry-on friendly 19’’ to 23’’ and 27’’ full size cases. Regardless of the size, each case boasts a fully lined interior, split in two by a divider panel with a mesh pocket. Tie-down straps keep your garments in place, while a zippered pouch can accommodate both toiletries and small accessories. Built with a sturdy polycarbonate shell, the baggage is surprisingly lightweight and extremely mobile thanks to its eight multi-directional wheels.

While the 6572 edition has plenty to offer, if you need some additional space, packing cubes have you covered. Varying in sizes, the SWISSGEAR 7669 cubes can tame the mess inside your luggage, upgrading and downsizing it at the same time. Once in your hotel room, do not take your possessions out – simply line the packing cubes in the drawers to keep them all organized and tidy. Now, you are all set to venture out and explore Chicago.

Classic Chicago Lives In Old Town

Bursting with history, Old Town emerged from the ambers of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and consolidated into a tight-knit community during World War II. Today, it is a charming enclave in the northside of Chicago that flaunts lavish Victorian-style homes, old-school pubs and tiny boutiques. It is a hip hub with a vibrant culture that reaches an artistic zenith every summer during the Old Town Art Fair.

Strolling through Old Town calls for a sophisticated style that mirrors the flair of the locals. But do not fret – a classic statement piece will do the trick. Ticking with that subtle refinement of a true Chicagoan is the SWISSGEAR Legacy Watch collection. Hand-assembled in the historic town of Delemont, Switzerland, all five of the timepieces brim with craftsmanship. Opt for the model with the large white dial and the chestnut brown strap. Beneath its horological excellence rests a classic yet rugged character that perfectly matches Old Town’s.


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Modern Heart of Glistening Steel and Glass

Even if you are in Chicago for a mere day, hop on a boat cruise down the Chicago River, which meanders through the heart of the city to reveal breathtaking vistas of the cityscape. Then, head toward the iconic “The Bean” in Millennium Park. Unveiled in 2006, the sculpture, whose official title is Cloud Gate, has become a tourist staple – do not miss taking a selfie with the giant orb, which reflects its surroundings with crystal clarity. After you take in Chicago’s skyscraper downtown from the ground, consider seeing it from a bird’s-eye view. The Willis Tower is only 20 short minutes away from “The Bean,” but its famed Skydeck rises some 103 floors in the air to afford views that stretch beyond the city. If you are feeling exceptionally bold, try the TILT at the former John Hancock Observatory. It is undeniably one of Chicago’s most fascinating thrill rides – except you remain still while the deck slants from the 94th floor toward the ground. The views, however, are worth the unnerving feeling of free falling.

Downtown Chicago boasts exalting attractions. An unorganized visitor can easily lose track of time, lingering for too long at one place and squandering precious minutes to wander around other venues. To make sure you see it all, strap a SWISSGEAR Legacy watch with stainless steel bracelet on your wrist. Just a peek at the all-black piece and you will know when to move on to the next locale, all the while channeling the tough steely core of Chicago with a watch that was made to endure and entice.

Museums, Museums and More Museums

No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to the city’s Museum Campus that covers a peninsula on Lake Michigan. The Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium unveil the secrets of natural history, the deep ocean as well as the outer space. With dozens of exhibits to delve into, the trio is not the sole opportunity to jog your mind. Throughout the city, a slew of institutions offer an immersive and interactive excursion across time and terrains, cultures and countries. To stay in the here and now, do not stroll the cavernous museum halls without a SWISSGEAR Legacy timepiece. The model with black-and-cream dial and light-cream strap exudes that subtle sophistication and unquestionable style that any museum maven would appreciate.


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From Hot Dogs to Caviar

Make sure to leave some time to sample Chicago’s eclectic cuisine that perfectly captures the city’s personality – superb yet unpretentious, worldly yet tough. To savor some excellent Chicago-style hot dogs, head to Portillo’s. Yes, it is a regional chain, but its fare is delectably homey. Another staple that ought not to be missed is deep dish pizza. A baked, thick concoction of cheese and tomatoes, it is Chicago’s iconic answer to New York’s paper-thin pizza. Pequod’s in Lincoln Park offers the most delicious deep dish you will find. The city’s traditional fare is finger-licking good, but its fine offerings are a class of its own. Alinea is renowned for its New American menus, the highly artistic creations of Chef Grant Achatz and his talented team that draw international patrons.

Chicago might not top your list of must-visit destinations – and this warrants a change. The Windy City is a gem of attractions and activities that will leave you earning to return. No matter what month of the year you venture to Chicago, it is always ready to welcome you. SWISSGEAR is eager to help you get ready for a Chicagoan adventure of a lifetime.