Hotspots in Chicago, IL

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach offers a lot of outdoor exercise options, especially during the summer months. Run, bike or skate along the lake shore path. Or grab some pals and play volleyball on one of over 50 courts. With the recent addition of the North Avenue Beach House there are also outdoor showers and bike, chair and volleyball equipment rentals available.

Chopin Dog Park

The views are the reason to head to this dog park. If you're not in the mood to sit and watch your dog run around in a fenced in dog park, you can take him or her for the stroll of his/her life through the gorgeous 8-acres of Chopin Park.

This is one of the many parks founded in 1934 by the parks district. As it is situated in the Old Portage Park District, a heavily Polish area, it was named after Polish-born French composer Chopin.

AM Air Service Helicopter Rides

When your heart races and danger is in the air, everything, including your significant other, feels more exciting. One of the most thrilling activities to do in Chicago  is taking a helicopter ride. As the helicopter shakes and spins effortlessly in the air, you'll grab your partner's hand and see the city as you've never seen it before, returning to land with a better appreciation for your home and your love.

AM Air Service offers a variety of helicopter tours. Their downtown one will show you the United Center, US Cellular Field, Willis Tower (formerly named the Sears Tower), Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the John Hancock Building, Wrigley Field and the Chicago skyline up close and personal. The flight experience is approximately 45 minutes.  Night flights of the city lights available for a small additional surcharge.

The helicopters take off from Schaumburg airport and all major credit cards are accepted.

Maude's Liquor Bar

This charming Parisian-style cocktail bar is a sleek and sexy Chicago hot spot with some serious historical roots. Case in point, Maude's has cocktail recipes that date back to the 19th century. Maude's has an old-fashioned flair to match, with intimate, low-level lighting and a romantic ambiance. Maude's also serves coastal French cuisine until midnight to compliment their impeccable drink selection. The dishes are served as small plates that are meant to be shared - that is, if you're willing. Don't leave without trying the mussels, they're one of the most popular items on the menu.

Point Reyes Whale Watching

Grab your coat and some stable walking shoes for some of the best views of Gray Whales in the Bay Area. San Francisco is known for its fog during the summer, but during the winter, the clear views at Point Reyes around Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse are hot spots for whale watching. You’ll need to watch your step, but the views make it worth the anxiety of the cliffs you’ll have to walk along. The roads are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays as the shuttle is in service during the winter months, and shuttle tickets must be purchased at the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach. Also note that the trails to Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse are not wheelchair accessible.

Comfort Me Boutique

Founded by a local mother and her two twenty-something daughters, Comfort Me is a welcome departure from the average boutique. What sets Comfort Me apart? The mom-and-daughter trio emphasize a low-key, relaxing shopping experience infused with their passion for fashion, appropriately summed up by their tagline, "... experience the true meaning of retail therapy". In addition to a warm and welcoming ambiance, Comfort Me offers a range of flattering on-trend pieces for every age set. Bonus: they feature local Chicago designers when possible. Whether you're searching for the perfect gift for your stylish BFF or something special for yourself, you'll find what you're looking for at this Lincoln Park gem. 

Soggy Paws Self Washing

Your dog is getting a little smelly, but you keep postponing giving him that bath because it is just such a messy process. Especially during those frigid winter months, who wants to do all that splashing in the bathroom? Well, thanks to Soggy Paws bathing your dog no longer needs to mess up your home thanks to their self-wash facilities. And if you're feeling lazy, you can even have one their staff members do the washing.

The $18 fee for self-wash includes a calming mist, a foaming facial, an optional conditioner, use of combs, brushes and a clean aprons, towels, and wash cloths. You can even spritz your dog with a little mouthwash. Your dog will walk out clean and happy, and so will you. Doggy Paws is especially convenient when you're coming home from Montrose Dog Beach or

Hollywood Blvd. Cinema

Move over stale popcorn and flat pop, Chicagoland's first full service, fully integrated restaurant bar and movie theater puts all those other theater concession stands to shame. Located just 30 minutes outside of metropolitan Chicago, Hollywood Blvd. Cinema offers a loaded lobby bar (complete with signature cocktails and frozen house specialities) and a full menu that you can peruse while sitting in one of the theater's deluxe high-back leather chairs. The lobby opens up to two hours before showtime.

Throughout the film a wait staff appears seemingly out of thin air to take your food and drink orders. No need for a cup holder, each seating area comes equipped with a tabletop to house your dinner and drinks. Ticket prices are relative to standard movie theater prices and plus you receive a buy-one-get one ticket coupon valid for your next visit with each ticket purchased.

Three Dog Bakery

When your dog has a special day, whether it's his birthday, or just the first day of above 30 weather in months, Three Dog Bakery is the destination for the two of you. The staff will fuss over your dog, spoiling him with treats, and making him feel truly welcome.

For your pet's birthday, you can go all out with a mini doggie birthday cake. For seasonal special occasions, like Easter or Christmas, you can choose from dozens of adorable cookie designs in the case. These also make doggie birthday party favors that will make you the rockstar of your dog run.

Customers of Three Dog Bakery love that they can trust the ingredients in the Three Dog Bakery goodies. They add no salt, sugar, chemicals, artificial preservatives or animal fat to any of their products.

Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago's beloved (free) zoo in the sprawling Lincoln Park neighborhood hosts this magical festival of lights each year. There are also holiday crafts and visits with Santa for the kiddos and hot spiced wine for the grownups. As a bonus, Zoolights remembers the reason for the season and collects warm coats for those in need in boxes spaced throughout the zoo.