Chicago Fashion Fest 2012

Paris. New York. Milan. Chicago? There are many things Chicago is known for, unfortunately, a booming fashion scene is not one of them. What many don’t know is that the Chicago fashion industry is picking up. Insert our latest exploration, the Annual Chicago Fashion Fest. Starting in humble beginnings at the bar Moonshine, also located on West Division, the festival is now branching out to its own outdoor area next to bar and grill The Anthem who also sponsor the event. Now going on its 4th year, the fest has grown and spread its opportunities to many fashion and fashion related workers in the city. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer marched out to the event with 4-Star’s photographer Christopher Thompson as well as that day’s travel companion, former model, and good friend, Ashlee Robinson.

While 4-Star explored the fest and all its workings, we got a chance to view the event’s fashion show and had a chance to pick up some of the hottest trends for the fall.

1. Add a pop of color!

This fall is all about mixing colors. A pop of bright color with a dark color can really add to an outfit. Adding maybe some lime green to your look can redefine the little black dress making it more modern. Even patterns like plaid can be added with fun colors like purple to take it from stuffy to funky.

2. Cut It Out.

A clip here, a snip there and you can forget all your cares…of being fashionable for the fall. But don’t go cutting the midriff out of your old dress, subtle cut-outs are the way for a tasteful ensemble. This style usually comes in the form of bared shoulders, tiny slits at the waist, or as the “wow” effect at the back of a shirt.

3. Collar necklaces make a “statement.”

Chunky necklaces can add “oomph” to any outfit and can instantly attract attention to an outfit without trying too hard. Styles like teardrop stones and layered chains are the favorites for fall.

courtesy of James Jeans Blog

4. Guys…spread your jeans.

A lot of guys think their style is limited, not having as many accessories or outfit options as the ladies. Don’t worry guys, jeans will save your style. Guys are really making a statement with different denim looks for the fall. Whether their faded, bleached, cut up or even pop colors like teal or green…jeans are a man’s way of getting noticed.

5. Neutrals and Navy.

I have been seeing neutrals paired with navy practically everywhere! When looking for something to pair with the color nude, navy is this season’s winning combination. You can pair a nice nude pair of shoes with a navy dress or maybe your style’s more nautical with with a nice navy and cream striped shirt? Neutrals and navy give a touch of sophistication to your wardrobe.

After the fashion show we made our way to some of the local clothing stores who occupied booths to display their designs. Le Thrift, a local consignment shop, offers previously owned but well taken care of garments and focuses on an overall vintage style of clothing. Not only can you buy designers like Coach, Chanel, Gucci and others for a steal, you can take your own gently used valuables, because you know you’ll never fit those Prada strappy sandals again, and trade them in for cash.

We continued our rounds and eventually made our way to the So Ness Boutique booth run by young stylist Vanessa Betance and her mother. For the hottest in edgy accessories and clothing you can’t go wrong here. Could she interest you in a spiked cuff bracelet? Or maybe you’d like to go bold with a spiked nail ring? Then So Ness Boutique is sure to make you look fierce.

One of the standout booths Elevenzees, offered a more zen-like approach to style. Offering enchanting jewelry designs and natural oils, Elevenzees gave a calming demeanor. But don’t let the bluegrass roots fool you, the store flaunts many a spicy number for brides-to-be.  I especially enjoyed speaking to Elevenzees spokesperson, Patty Johnson, about some of the ways they cater to different clientele from ladies planning a “girl’s night out” to the bridal industry. They don’t just sell clothing they also have an entertainment space in the downstairs area of the store. Here, they offer different event options that best suit the host including snacks and bubbly. If this wasn’t enough, they even have free monthly yoga and spiritual enlightenment events. I’ve never seen one store do so much!

 

My style assistant Ashlee and I didn’t just search the racks we got to meet, gab, and question some of the shop owners, the question we asked, what style tips do you have to give the Chicago fashion beat? Sarah Sabastian, of Jojo and Sofia emphatically believes you should “show personality through accessories!” For the ladies she says “necklaces are a way to be bold with out overdoing your outfit.” And for the fellas she thought sporting necktie clips can take you from guy to gentlemen status in no time flat. “It’s a fun and easy way for classing up a man’s look.”

Alicia Rogers of CocoNutU, says “less is sometimes more.” “Choose one thing to focus on,” she says, “You don’t need big earrings and a glittery necklace. Choose one piece as a statement of your outfit so an onlookers eye knows where to focus.”

But the general consensus on advice on style is to be original. We got a chance to meet up with Duble “R” Da Great, from the Hustle My Flow article, once again at the King Lizzy booth. Their belief “whatever you see in the magazines, do the opposite.” According to the King Lizzy philosophy “if everyone’s going right, you go left” and this state of mind seems to work for their team as they gear up for their September 12th relaunching of their clothing and sneaker store. Boasting brand new designers and an interactive experience you can be sure that 4-Star will be there to cover it!

As we departed from the fest we stopped across the street at Noir, who weren’t officially apart of the festivities but kept their doors open to its stylish patrons. Inside their walls are filled with cool, campy duds that sport a retro feel. While perusing the brightly colored racks my fellow fashionista Ashlee R. couldn’t help but laugh and muse on why everyone should want to dress like this to which she added, “yea instead of wearing pink lace leggings.” Oh 79th street girls, will you ever learn?

All and all Chicago Fashion Fest was small in stature but huge in potential. I look forward to Chicago growing in fashion notoriety in the next five years but we as Chicagoans need to get out and support these stores!

Did you like the article? Want to know more about Chicago Fashion Fest? Want to see all the exclusive pictures from the event? Then drop us a line at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com and visit or facebook page at www.facebook.com/4StarExplorer and don’t forget to like us!

Support our local business!!!! These stores are 4-Star approved!!!!

CocoNut U
Hand Crafted Jewelry
etsy.com/CocoNutU
coconut57@gmail.com

Elevenzees
1901 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
http://www.elevenzees.com

JoJo & Sofia
http://www.jojoandsofia.com
jojoandsofia@gmail.com

King Lizzy
2540 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
http://www.kinglizzy.com

Le Thrift
1754 West Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
http://www.lethrift.com

Noir
1726 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
http://www.noirclothing.com

So Ness Boutique
http://www.sonessboutique.bigcartel.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SoNessBoutique

Notable Fashion Fest Booths Which Were Not Mentioned

Lauren Cheri
Fashion Illustrator
http://www.facebook.com/Lauren.Cheri.Designs
LaurenCheri@yahoo.com

Gabrielle Zwick Designs
http://www.gabriellezwick.com

Viva La Femme
2048 North Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Also…
C DALSTEDT
DALIA ACEVEDO
MAISON DE LACOUR
M.GO FASHION CO
SMASH TALENT
SMART CHIC
SOUTH LOOP

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Navigating Chicago Part 1: *My Hero Zero, Zero*

Though I consider myself a native Chicagoan, living near the South-side since birth, there’s a secret this self-acclaimed explorer has been carrying around for some time now…I never learned directions. It’s true! For shame! When most urbanites were sent off into the world with a bus card, maybe a map, and the simple directions “find your way back in two hours,” I was unfortunately born to an overattentive mother who wouldn’t let me walk up the block let alone ride a bus. I was thus denied this rite of passage and some twenty odd years later, I was finally getting rid of my “exploring training wheels.” I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer set out find an easy and helpful way to navigate the city. But where to start? Chicago is so vast….bring in my hero zero, zero.

A little history first. Chicago is set up on a grid system that is, streets run like longitude and latitude lines on a map. Some run up and down, some run left to right. In Chicago, major streets are counted at every four blocks or half mile. In the heart of this grid system lies Madison and State, the zero point of Chicago, where all city block measuring is started. Madison running East and West, while State runs North and South.

So what exactly does all that mumbo jumbo mean…is exactly what I was thinking as I was reviewing maps. Which brings me to “helpful tip” number one for navigating Chicago, Do Your Homework. Work with mapping websites, I suggest Google Maps. They have a helpful app that is a lifesaver if you’re ever lost. They even have a walking GPS! Giving you turn by turn walking directions for what I term, us directionally challenged individuals. After perusing some of the major downtown streets I came up with an acronym system to group some of the streets together that almost guaranteed my memorization. I started with State-Wabash-Michigan giving it the oh, so appropriate “Sexy-Wet-Men.” Now I don’t know how your mind works but nothing is more unforgettable than a soaking wet man fresh out of the shower. Now if you’re a fella and that wordplay is something you’d like to keep far from your mind I came up with “Soliders-Win-Merits” for all you Call of Duty fans.

Next was Madison-Washington-Randolph given the phrase “My-Wild-Rabbit.” Then there’s State-Dearborn-Clark-LaSalle with the phrase “Silly-Dogs-Cuddle-Lovingly” and lastly there were the parallel streets Madison-Monore-Adams-Jackson paired with the saying “My-Mom-Answers-John

Once my research was over I was ready to pack up and explore but like the catchy Expedia handle “helpful tip number two” suggests you should Never Roam Alone. If you’re a newbie to downtown directions I would suggest sticking with the buddy system, at least until you have a working knowledge of where you are while near the Loop. Not only is it easy to get turned around in the swell of a crowd but not to mention the safety precautions. With this in mind I called on 4-Star’s interim photographer, Chris Thompson to act as my inside man.

After riding the Red Line up to Monroe we stopped and had a small “awe-filled” moment as we took in the hustle and bustle that is downtown Chicago. The plan? Walk around the Madison and State parameter while collecting useful insights to help the GPS junkies out there LEARN the streets, not just mapquest ’em.

While walking with Chris I learned that there is a “100 block series” measurement system that lets a traveler know their location in relation to another street. For example, If I were waiting for Chris at Millennium Park on Michigan and he was located on Madison and State getting ready to travel towards me, I would in fact be 200 blocks East of State Street or simply I’d be two blocks over to his right. I can feel some of the seasoned Chicago explorers’ blasé stares in my general direction but what is your long forgotten history is my latest revelation.

There is an exception to this, some streets which is the case with the above picture of Garland are counted as half of a city block and thus do not fit into the 100 block series count. Garland Court is in fact placed between Wabash and Michigan but these half blocks, places, and courts are mostly used as alleyways for local businesses.

Continuing my journey, I did whatever I do when taken to a new or scary place that I’m not sure I’ll return from, make mental note of my surroundings. For example, while walking towards “The Lake” or going East on Madison one of the first things I noticed once I got to Wabash was a high hanging Tilted Kit restaurant sign. So, “helpful tip” number three, Peep Your Surroundings urges you to do just that.

After taking Madison, over to Michigan and then eventually walking down to Randolph I tried to think like the average lost out-of-towner. Who is the first person I’d go to in crisis? As I made my way on Randolph past the Chicago Cultural Center, yet another visual landmark, I happened to see a group of Chicago’s finest and slightly less finer police officers and security guards. Of course, as luck would have it I happened to ask the most stubborn security officer of the group. After some time I got him to reluctantly answer some questions on what to do if you ever get lost.

His advice was to seek out policemen, bus drivers, and taxi drivers for directions. “Helpful tip” number four Uniforms Friendly! is a proclamation of our fine fitted workers of the city.These people are put in these position to be able to work with the public. Quite frankly, it’s their jobs to know these streets. And even if you catch a traffic control attendant or the Starbucks guy you’ll get a reasonably helpful and friendly response.

Another oasis for the lost explorer is one of the many Metra Information Centers. Every bus or train at the very least has a mapping system chart with the different city routes carved out. Some of these train and bus stations even have attendants or officers stationed on them which again, these friendly uniforms offer a guide to a helpful direction. Beneath the Chicago Cultural Center, holds one such information center. Boasting one of the more extravagant information centers than most in the city, the Chicago Cultural Center’s Metra Information Center holds six different restaurants and stores for the weary traveler needing to replenish their supplies and achy soles.

While looking around the underground safe haven I noticed a compass Chicago Pedway Symbol and decided to research some facts on this passageway. Constructed since the 50s this underground walkway system is connected to over 40 downtown area blocks, specifically occupying the central business district. It connects to many shopping areas, restaurants, city buildings, as well as different CTA (Chicago Transit Authority works with bus services) and Metra (works with train services for those who don’t know). This tunnel system is a godsend to a lost explorer seeing as many times it can lead you straightway to the business or building you are looking for. So “helpful tip” number five encourages you to Look for the North Star. These compass star designed symbols can be an explorer’s salvation, so keep an eye out for these. And remember a lot of local stores and restaurants are connected to them as well like this picture of the pedway sign on the side of the State street shopping center Block 37.

Wrapping up the trip and all its grandeur would be a cathartic experience for anyone so of course, me being me, I had to go and ruin it by putting myself through what I can guarantee is one of the most terrifying things a person can do; walking blind and being lead by someone around the downtown area. Considered crazy by most, extreme by some, but for us at 4-Star Explorer it’s just a day at the office.  Trust me, there is a method to the madness. I had Chris blindly lead me to different streets in the area to quiz me on identifying the intersection, giving the correct “100 block series count” from Madison or State, and lastly knowing the proper direction of either East/West of State or North/South of Madison.

Once the first of my quizzes was administered after being told I could open my eyes I looked around and noticed we were near the business district. I made my way to the nearest intersection which read Dearborn and Adams. From there I was able to determine that the location was 200 blocks south of Madison and 100 blocks west of State…and of course I was correct. Riding high off my first win I felt a little more comfortable as I closed my eyes again and was spun unceremoniously around then lead to the next challenge. Once again I was told to open my eyes and after peering around the area I noticed the Wabash and Adams sign to which I gave the correct answer of being 1 block east of State and 2 blocks south of Madison. After urging Chris to give me something more challenging and not located on Adams…he spun me around and off we went. After what felt like hours and what must have been countless confused stares I was told to open my eyes and was instantly met with the familiar musings of Millennium Park . I looked up and found the intersection of Madison and Michigan. Being stationed on Madison we were on the Zero Point and thus only 200 blocks east of State.

Soaking in the glory of all three quizzes I inquired on the proper address formation of our last intersection. I was confused because though we were on Michigan the address said 200 E. Madison. Chris filled me in on why that’s the case. When you are at intersecting streets the dominant street, or the street that naturally runs in the direction you are traveling, gets the placing. For example, if you were located on the intersection of LaSalle and Randolph the address would read 300 W. Randolph because Randolph naturally runs East and West whereas LaSalle runs North and South. But LaSalle isn’t completely forgotten with the “300” letting travelers know it is 3 blocks from State.

Well in a day filled with triumphs and terrors (the whole time I had my eyes closed I just knew I was gonna hit a curb and face plant so hard for the whole world to see) I can definitely say it was a trip I’ll never forget and cherish as the first of many Navigating Chicago series. Here’s some of my favorite pictures from our outing, we got a lot of great shots!

Wanna see all of the 70 photos we took on our Navigating Chicago Part 1 Trip? Any suggestions on what we should explore next? Drop us a line at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com or go to our Facebook page facebook.com/4StarExplorer to see extra pictures or leave notes, don’t forget to like us!

Don’t Knock the Hustle! Hustle*My*Flow Music Showcase

Now as Chicago residents-especially if you’re from either of the South and West sides- you’ve been exposed to some sort of hustle. Whether it be the famous “bucket boys” beating their plastic percussion beats or multitude of “hood vendors” selling anything from candy to cold water on hot days. Or maybe its the Shea Butter man who sells his wares faithfully on the corner of 79th and State. Regardless of the scheme we’ve all been aware of the grinding tendencies of the urban underground. Imagine my excitement when I got a message from comedian/actor Real Shannon D about a place that hosts the ultimate hustle. Rappers and singers from all around the Chicago-area gather in one place to not peddle dime-store products but to distribute their lyrics and skills at Club Jags monthly event Hustle My Flow. Shannon D, who plays host to this frequent event, assures me the event goes hard. The event which is often standing room only let’s artists sign up to perform at 9pm and come 10:30 its showtime! And the last artist to perform is sort of the headliner of the event. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer came out to witness these performers do their thing.

Once I arrived at the location of event I thought I was lost being that the structure of the bar looked very modest. After a short time I ran into Real Shannon D and he was instantly warm and welcoming in demeanor. I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the event before it started.

Vonnie Coleman of 4-Star and event host Real Shannon D

4-Star: How long has the event been going on?

Real Shannon D: The show has been going on about once a month for about ten months now.

4-Star: How long have you hosted?

Real Shannon D: This is my second time hosting so about a month now. I’ve hosted a lot of shows like this before and once I voiced my opinions they liked me. They brought me on the team and now I’m doing a little bit more behind the scenes.

4-Star: Give me a breakdown of the event.

Real Shannon D: It’s a hip-hop showcase. Artists come in between 9 and 10 o’clock to sign up. The DJ begins spinning about 9:30. We give as many artists as we can a 5-minute slot. Each show we have a featured artist and after the featured artist performs we announce the new featured artist for the next event. Whoever is picked to be the featured artist gets a V.I.P. table and gets more time to perform than the other acts.

Ah…what the allure of V.I.P. won’t make some people do. Once my travel companion, Kalise Anderson, and I entered the event I got a chance to get some shots of the performance space.The showcase is actually held in the rear room of the bar and though small it still seemed spacious and tastefully decorated. The registered spin doctor DJ Batman stood reserved as he culminated and transformed songs blending them one into another. As I sat waiting I noticed that I was only one of a few patrons of the event. The host assured me they always got a packed house. I worried if the also vastly popular music event Lollapalooza had not conflicted with the attendance.I also noticed that the dress code was very casual as I sat with high heels and cocktail dress (which is not my preferred attire mind you, I’ve very much a jeans and blazer girl)

Rap Mouth the Genius and manager Lynda Payne

Rap Mouth the Genius Performs

Once the audience swelled and the performers began I noticed the different talent level. The first few acts were very underground….I mean extremely underground….I mean basement party level. And I love my city but some of the artists were very “bounce and break yo back-ish” if that makes any sense. And while that level of music talent is very nostalgic most of us have outgrown it and I for one am not here for it. But every cloud has a silver lining, every rose has its thorn and any other nonsensical idiom you can come up with and for me, there was a rapper who stood above the rest. Local artist, Rap Mouth The Genius, was the standout performer for me. He took me back to a time when a rapper’s words outshone their beats. When there was no gimmicks required but just raw talent and flow. He even killed it A Capella and had the crowd hanging on his words.

Duble “R” Da Great performs as the featured artist of the month

Also very much the crowd-pleaser was the event’s featured artist, Duble “R” Da Great, self-proclaimed greatest Puerto Rican Rapper in the Chi. His set was very rousing and energetic as he took his shirt off eliciting a boisterous reaction from the crowd. But I just couldn’t hold back my surprise at the mention of what he reported was his latest hit to drop a lovely song entitled “Cock You Down.” While the crowd waited between sets I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a great Chicago urban fashion designer Rowan Richards who is owner of the King Lizzy t-shirt and sneaker line and subsequently sponsor of both Duble R Da Great and the Hustle My Flow event.

Rapper, Duble “R” Da Great, and King Lizzy owner Rowan Richards

So what’s the rundown of this event?

-Very casual dress

-Affordable only $5 each event

-You might want to bring something to do because with the Open Mic layout of the event you may be waiting some time before people sign up to perform and start the show. May I suggest beating that Temple Run score?

-Great for true hip-hop heads. DJ Batman does a good job of playing to old and newer music lovers.

-Local Chicago artists should take advantage of this chance to hone their skills in front of an audience without being harshly critiqued.

-Be wary, you have no control over the amount of talent that evening. You might hear the next great hip-hop emcee or….you may get your next headache.

 

Does this sound like an event to remember or forget? I’ll let you be the judge but what I can definitively say, this event is great for city dwellers not interested in the nightlife scene but looking for a low cost, chill night out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jagiellonia “Club Jags”
3634 West Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

 

Support Our Local Talent!!! These People are 4-Star Approved:

Real Shannon D
Comedienne/Actor/Event Host
@RealShannonD via Twitter

Rap Mouth The Great
@RapMouthFlow via Twitter

Rowan Richards of King Lizzy Apparel
rrichards@kinglizzy.com
http://www.kinglizzy.com

 

Did you like the article? Any suggestions? Email us at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/4StarExplorer

Just a reminder folks that tomorrow, August 16th, WE’RE BACK!!! 4-Star has come off it’s break, got a little sun, and is back and ready as ever to explore our great city! We’ve got exciting new articles and events for you all to peruse so get your backpacks on and join us to explore the best in urban Chicago. We’ve got pictures up on our facebook page already of the latest event we reviewed and tomorrow you can read the full article, where else other than 4-Star Explorer. Thanks so much for the wonderful birthday wishes! It was truly a blessing.

courtesy of Big Cartoon Database Online

Blessings,

Shavon “Vonnie” Coleman

The Big E-I-C

(Editor-in-Chief)

4-Star Explorer

Now Hear This…Around here you may not know it but majority of the pieces posted are conceptualized and written by our big E-i-C (that’s Editor-in-Chief) Vonnie Coleman. We hope you’ve enjoyed a few of the articles we’ve posted so far. We are dedicated to exploring all that the city of Chicago has to offer for the urban population. But everyone deserves a break at times and nothing can be truer as the E-i-C prepares to celebrate her 25th birthday on August 7th!!! Please continue to send your well-wishes and greetings. While our hardworking Editor is enjoying her special day and subsequent vacation we ask that you remain patient as there will be no posting during that time. We will make a boisterous return Thursday August 16th with a new article! So take this time to do a little exploring of your own and email us those ideas at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com. Wherever you wanna go, we’ll follow. Thanks for all the support and stay tuned explorers!

courtesy of FantasyStock on deviantART

Ten Things to Do in Chicago-Before You Die

Around here at 4-Star this particular blogger will be coming to her 25th birthday soon. With the concept of mortality (not to mention that eligible dating prospects are just about as shallow as a kiddy pool, the fact that everyday my breasts droop down lower towards the Earth, and constant nagging from my Nana about just when I think I’m going to get married and have some children) ever looming over my head I threw around the idea of creating a Bucket List. I got to thinking if the idea of someone who has only been on the planet for a quarter of a century making a bucket list isn’t too preposterous then, why can’t a city have one? Bring in 4-Star’s Ten Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die List.

10. Take It In Deep

courtesy of smartertravel.com

 Whether it’s Giordano’s or maybe Lou Malnati’s is more your drift it is essential to pay homage to one of the official native Chicagoan dishes, deep dish pizza, which is one of the many things we do better than New York. For an added challenge try to make it over to Burt’s Place, located between Lincoln and Capulina. Owned by Burt Katz, who pretty much pioneered awesome Chicago pizza making, try to make it before the 73 year-old closes up for good and this miraculous heavenly slice of decadence is lost to you forever.

9. View from the Top

What is often written off as a silly thing for tourists to gawk at and marvel over, it is 4-Star’s opinion that you just ain’t Chicagoan until you’ve been to the top. So skip, hop or shimmy yourself down to the Sears, I mean…Willis Tower (But seriously, what decent urbanite calls it Willis?) give the stewardess a smile and head on up to the 103rd floor of this almost 40 year-old prominent monument. Just don’t tap dance on the reinforced glass…

8. Don’t Hate the Player…Well Try Not to Hate the Game Either

With a bone crushing football team, a star-studded basketball team, count em’-two division leading baseball teams, two hockey teams, and one fiery soccer team; it’s pretty safe to say that Chicago’s got game. Aim to be a part of one of those history-making moments that have made Chicago’s various sports teams famous. Because nothing says team spirit like rooting on Brian Urlacher in the freezing cold. Go Bears!

7. The City That Time Forgot

Museums are a fun way for visitor and city dweller alike to take in a little bit of knowledge about the place they stay. Many Chicagoans walk around everyday completely clueless on just how influential the city has been. We suggest you visit the Chicago History Museum and capture some of those proud moments in Chicago history. Al Capone, the Great Chicago Fire, and let’s not forget the great institution that was Mike Ditka. All forgotten gems brought back to life through the various exhibits found in our prestigious museum.

6. Keep Both Hands on the Handlebars

courtesy of chicagonakedride.org

Don’t be sheepish. Chicago’s annual Naked Bike Race is one of the only times it’s o.k. to stare. Since 2004, this world event has been cruising around clothing-free on 1025 West Randolph annually. Whether you dare to bare or decide this is purely a spectator’s sport, you can relax, there’s no private pictures allowed. You can bike, skateboard, or roller blade and don’t worry we won’t judge your secret Lance Armstrong obsession.

5. Savor the “Taste”

Weighing in as the nation’s largest food festival Chicago shows what it does best during the Taste of Chicago. You simply haven’t lived if you haven’t gone to this famous event and risked heat exhaustion and indigestion by sampling from over 35 citywide culinary vendors. Make sure you check out 4-Star’s article on this year’s 2012 Taste of Chicago.

4. For Christ Sakes Get the Kid a Hotdog!!!

Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare in your rabid behind mind come into a vicinity of Chicago and not try one of our famous Chicago-style hotdogs. Ingredients so good they need their own song: one beef hotdog, onions, relish, pickles, tomatoes, peppers on a poppy seed bun. And please out-of-towners…don’t ask for ketchup.

3. Our City Has PRIDE

courtesy of chicago report online

Be you queer or ally there’s something for everyone to see and enjoy at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade. Chicago is lucky enough to have one of the most “gay-friendly” communities in the nation. Boystown has been set up as a LGBT cornerstone in the city for years and welcomes residents of all colors and creeds into its welcoming arms as long as you are one for acceptance. I went, I saw, I partied and this single straight girl danced her life away!

2. Where Everyone Knows Your Name…

This past party girl can personally attest to the nightlife mecca that is Rush and Division. These famous intersecting lanes are visited by young party-goers and seasoned nightlife patrons alike. We guarantee you’ll have some of the best times you’ll never remember with bars like Original Mother’s which had so much sound blasting greatness that they had to extend it to their more chill bar Mother’s Too.  How about some booze from Bootleggers? And there’s plenty of shenanigans at She-nannigans House of Beer, oh what with the personal lighted stage equipped with stripper poles that have been used by many a drunk girl and bride-to-be alike. And don’t get caught sleeping in Detention, the school girl clad go-go dancers will not be pleased. With the strip of over 10 bars occupying the street there are plenty of memories that can become secrets that only you and your friends take to the grave.

1. Pick Your Spot and Stand on It

courtesy of chicago detours online

Whether it’s from one of the city’s many beaches, looking on from a neighboring suburb or my personal favorite while riding down Lake Shore Drive, the Chicago Skyline is what makes our city reign supreme. There have been many buildings that have joined the picturesque snapshot over the years but it’s something relaxing and life affirming  about seeing that beautiful landscape all lit up at night.

 

Anything that should have made the list that we forgot? Any special places you’ve been that you want to share? Let us know! Email us at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com. Follow us on Twitter @4StarExplorer and like us at Facebook.com/4StarExplorer