How Chicago stacks up against other US cities

The beanTravel+Leisure just released their 2009 results of America’s favorite cities. Chicago didn’t come out on top but it did pretty damn well, as it should! I love living in Sydney but Chicago will always be home to me. I simply love it! It’s worth a visit for the hot dogs and pizza alone :). Anyways, here’s what the readers said about Chicago.

The good things about Chicago:

CULTURE – Chicago ranked 2nd for theater, 3rd for museums and 4th for classical music. Not too shabby!

SHOPPING – 2nd for luxury stores and 3rd for independent boutiques

NIGHTLIFE – We’re 5th for cocktail hour and 6th for both the singles bar scene and live music

FOOD – We do love to eat in the Windy City! We’re 2nd for big name restaurants, 3rd for ethnic food and 4th for neighbourhood joints.

QUALITY OF LIFE – Chicago outdid the whole country to get 1st place for its skyline. We also got 3rd for public transport and 6th for public parks.

TOURISM – Chicago scored no 1 for business hotels, 3rd for luxury hotels and 5th for boutique hotels. Readers consider Chicago 6th best for a wild weekend and 8th for cultural getaway.

The not so good things about Chicago

WEATHER – Chicago scored dead last for weather. Anyone who’s been there in the middle of winter will agree with this opinion.

AIRPORTS – O’Hare (and to a lesser extent Midway) is notorious for delays, mostly due to the weather. Our airports scored 29th for timeliness and our transport to/from airports was 23rd.

TOURISM – Related to the crappy winter weather and resulting flight delays, readers weren’t too keen on visiting Chicago at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

The big conclusion

Chicago rocks. You’ve heard me say it and now Travel+Leisure readers have confirmed it. You should probably avoid Chicago in the winter months, but otherwise it’s a diverse, fun, approachable city. So when are you coming for a visit?

You can read the full report on how Chicago did in the 2009 Travel+Leisure Favorite Cities surveys here.

Top 10 things I miss about living in the US

It’s raining. I test drove a Jeep. Feeling nostalgic. In need of “why I miss US” top 10 list. Here we go…

10. Choices in everything (more than two airlines, phone carriers, you name it).

9. Cheap stuff: clothes, cars, food. iPhones.

8. Customer service.

7. No caps on Internet usage.

6. Access to Hulu and the like.

5. Close proximity to everything (other than Australia).

4. American food: Hot dogs, hamburgers, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, burritos, milk shakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls.

3. Polish food: triple smoked sausage, bigos, pierogi, plesniak.

2. My friends.

1. My family (including kitty and puppy).

If there was a direct flight from Sydney to Chicago, I would be so much happier… you have no idea. I’m so envious of Aussie friends who say things like “I’m going to see my folks this weekend,” or when I see a US friend post something on Facebook like “Going to see OKGo at Empty Bottle.” It’s those little things that others take for granted that I would kill to be able to do…

Not that I’m complaining about my life in Sydney. It’s great! But it’s not unusual that I wake up in the middle of the night with tears in my eyes, wishing I could walk downstairs, find my dog and cat snoring by the fireplace and curl up with them. Or come home after work to find my mom’s famous chicken soup waiting on the table. Or go for a ride with my dad on his Honda cruiser. Or have an all-night Firefly marathon with my sister.

It’s not true what they say. You can go home again. And I really want to.