Chicago is a hot bed for summer loving — and here’s where you’re going to find it
I have been to Chicago exactly once in my life, and that was in 2008 when Obama was elected President. The guy I was dating at the time, Tim, was on Barack’s (because we’re like this, first name basis and all) advance staff. Needless to say, I stood in Millennium Park watching history happen, and then went out to a bar I’ll never remember with he and his co-workers to celebrate. Needless to say, I am not the authority when it comes to meeting men in Chi-Town, as I already had my man when I visited. However, Carolyn, the creator of Bonne Caroline, Bonne Gamine happens to live in the fair Illinois city. She is the authority, and a rampantly successful dater. So take her advice — and go get ‘em, tigers (or should I say Cubs)?
1. Paris Club/Citizen Bar/Sunda/etc. (Near North neighborhood) : This neighborhood is home to the young professional. Young, usually attractive (I hang out there, haha) and willing to spend some money to have a good time. If your date takes you here, he has pretty good taste. He’s not too pretentious but definitely considers himself to be trendy. Look for rooftop lounges at Paris Club and Epic on Hubbard Street or dine al fresco at Sunda New Asian on Illinois. Do some people watching and pick up a good-looking guy of your own! Cee-Lo even performed at Paris Club’s rooftop lounge, Studio Paris, a couple of weeks ago. Now that would have been a cool time to hook up.
2. Lollapalooza/North Coast Music Fest/Pitchfork-Chicago is home to some epic music festivals. Lollapalooza is the obvious one but the North Coast Music Festival and Pitchfork are picking up steam (and high-quality acts like Fleet Foxes-Pitchfork and David Guetta-North Coast). If you want to find your music man, look no further than one of these weekend music fests. It’s generally a young crowd, willing to bump into each other. Have no fear to feel your way around a man’s chest and into his heart while you’re moving from stage to stage! If you don’t have $$$ to spend at one of the 3-day weekend music festivals, just head on over to Millennium Park every Monday night for their free summer concert series. I caught Glen Hansard on a warm summer night just a couple of weeks ago! There are plenty of men who go after work to relax and have a few beers. Bring a girlfriend and make sure to spread out your blanket next to the hottest guys.
3. Museums (MCA, Planetarium, Art Institute, Aquarium): Looking for an arty intellectual type? There are PLENTY of those to go around in Chicago. And summer gives you the perfect time to find them!
Tuesdays on the Terrace at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Planetarium’s Adler After Dark
Chicago Art Institute After Dark
Jazzin at the Shedd Aquarium
4. North Street Beach: This is the best stretch of Lake Michigan for city dwellers to hit the sand and check out Chicagoans sans their usual layers of clothing. Muscled men and bikini-clad women spend their summer days running/cycling/skating(?) on the bike path that follows the entire lake front. Grab your towel and some SPF to catch your hottie on the move. Find one you like? The path gets busy. “Accidentally” bump into him on purpose and he could become your next summer love.
5. Big Star Mexican restaurants may not be the place you think of first when you want to meet a man. But Big Star has the ULTIMATE patio and it’s in the center of Hipster-ville, Wicker Park. If you think hipsters might suck at making Mexican food, think again. This place is the ultimate for gourmet tacos and an extensive beer/alcohol list. Catch a group of guys together while you’re wearing your fedora and ironic T-shirt and you might just make them swoon.
6. Rooftop at the Wit-If you’re going for a night that’s a cut above the rest, you’ll find it here. Literally, it is above the city of Chicago on the top of the Wit hotel. The drinks are great, the crowd is beautiful, and the music will have you dancing all night. Men in suits are the order of the day. I would say late 20s, early 30s, or maybe even the occassional silver fox. Guests from the hotel have first dibs to the roof so find a guy in the lobby and convince him that the sky’s the limit if he buys you a drink upstairs (but not in a prostitute sort of way)!
7. Summer sports leagues- If you’re more of a sporty girl whose idea of fun in the sun involves more action and less laying around, there are sporting leagues all over the city. A friend of mine joined a league with people from her building. They play volleyball once a week and this way, she works on her fitness while also mingling with some of the good-looking bachelors from her building. A team win could lead to post-game drinks and then…?
8. The Pony Inn - While this isn’t the most obvious choice, I swear to God that this Roscoe Village sports bar has been the starting spot for at least two relationships that I know of. There are no expectations when you walk into this place. Staffed by a charmingly rogue Brit, Robbie, the Pony Inn is a simple spot to catch a Cubs game, grab a burger, and down a few beers. It’s definitely fun all year round but summer is best due to their outdoor patio. And maybe some of The Pony’s magic will rub off on your love life just like it has for 2 of my friends!
Honorable mentions: The Whistler (Logan Square), Motel Bar (Near North), Wrigleyville post Cubs game (any bar along Clark Street).