Millennium Park merriment

This Chicago hotel is a legendary launch pad for downtown fun

Downtown Chicago skyline
Downtown Chicago skyline

If chic accommodations, historical surroundings, and a sophisticated crowd sound enticing for a weekend getaway, Palmer House Hilton is the perfect destination for a Chicago adventure. Whether it’s your first time exploring the Windy City or a repeat visit, this luxury hotel, which opened on September 26, 1871, is always just right.

Be prepared for your jaw to drop walking into the opulent Art Deco lobby, no matter how many times you have been there. Look up and take in the Tiffany 24-karate gold chandeliers and bronze “winged angels” (the largest Tiffany ever made). Business travelers and hotel guests rub elbows over cocktails and small bites on the long bar just outside of the Palmer’s Lockwood Restaurant while conference and event attendees walk up the grand staircase to the Empire Dining Room or on their way to meeting rooms on the Third Floor Salon.

Outside Palmer House Hilton
Outside Palmer House Hilton

Guest rooms and suites at spacious, stylish, and well-maintained. The executive level, with key-only access and a private check-in, is the place to splurge a little. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, hors d’oeurves, and cocktails from their full bar.

If you’re in the mood for something a little heartier, The Lockwood Restaurant & Bar offers incredible farmhouse-style American cuisine. Lockwood showcases prime local ingredients with special treats like their Hamilton-inspired curtain call three-course menu, a power lunch for local businessmen, signature butters inspired by flavors of the moment, butcher block steaks, their crave-able cheese curds, and the original chocolate fudge Brownie.

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park
Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

There’s plenty to see and do in and around the Palmer House. Reflection selfies in Cloud Gate, the impressive 110-ton Anish Kapoor sculpture, are an absolute must. In fact, spruce up your Instagram feed all over Millennium Park before hitting The Art Institute of Chicago to see iconic paintings like Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” Van Gough’s “Bedroom in Aries,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”

The Architectural Boat Tour of Chicago is a must. Voted one of the top ten tours in the U.S. by Trip Advisor, it’s the best way to get the 411 on the history of Chicago in a 90-minute boat ride along the Chicago River. If you’re hungry for lunch to try some deep-dished pizza at Giordano’s Famous Chicago Style Pizza or something lighter at Wood in Northalsted.

Outside Giordano’s Famous Chicago Style Pizza
Giordano’s Famous Chicago Style Pizza

Be sure to make enough time to hit the gym before a big night out in Northalsted, which is roughly a fifteen-minute cab ride from the Palmer House. The Health Club at the Palmer House offers three floors of fitness equipment, Preva by Pre-Cor cardio machines, a pool, and a variety of classes to work off that pepperoni. Finish with a spa treatment at Palmer House Spa but be prepared – the massages are firm and functional.

You might want to take a disco nap before hitting the bars. Pregame at Minibar or Cellblock for a little leather then hit Berlin, Hydrate, Roscoe’s, and/or Sidetrack. Be sure to get a little rest, though tomorrow is another day and there’s plenty to see and do in the bustling Windy City. With the Palmer House Hilton as your launch pad, you’re bound to take in the perfect blend of gay life, adventure, and relaxation in the great city of Chicago.

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